The PFT Bible: The Most Common Fitness Test in the World

Pfc. Brandon Tressler, scout sniper screener candidate from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, conducts a max set of sit-ups- after completing a 1.5 mile ruck run at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 20, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Kirstin Merrimarahajara)
Pfc. Brandon Tressler, scout sniper screener candidate from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, conducts a max set of sit-ups- after completing a 1.5 mile ruck run at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 20, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Kirstin Merrimarahajara)

The most common fitness test used is one you can find in a majority of the military branches and most law enforcement departments. The Standard Physical Fitness Test (PFT) is pushups, situps, sit and reach, and 1.5 mile run.

Here are just a few of the groups who use this test as not only an entrance test to be hired but also a maintenance test performed every six months in order to remain employed:

Navy — Pushups 2:00, Situps, 2:00, 1.5 mile run Air Force — Pushups 1:00, Situps 1:00, 1.5 mile run Army — Pushups 2:00, Situps 1:00, 2 mile run (add .5 miles = same way to train) Coast Guard — Pushups 1:00, Situps 1:00, 1.5 mile run

Many Law Enforcement Agencies use this test as well for a fitness assessment entrance exam such as Maryland State Police, Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, New York, Alaska, Iowa, North Dakota, Utah, New Mexico, Maine, Montana, Alabama and other federal, state, and local police departments.

The PFT Bible: Physical Fitness Test Exercises (Tips and Sample Workouts):

Running –1.5 mile run

  • Pace, breathing, arm swing, stride – Learn to regulate your breathing by timing INHALES for 2–3 steps and EXHALES for 2–3 steps in a regular breathing rhythm to keep heart rate lower and running faster in the last ¼ mile.
  • Arm swing and stride – arms should be slightly bent but relaxed and swing in a straight line not crossing your body. Stride and foot strike should be efficient enough so you are not running on your toes or too long where you land on your heels. Foot strike should be closer to the balls of the feet but not flat footed.
  • Injury prevention /​ stretch properly – Warm up well and stretch by jogging or jumping jacks and a few squats. Learn how to pace your 1.5 mile run by breaking the run down into ¼ and ½ mile interval workouts like this:
  • Repeat 6–8 times Run ¼ mile at goal pace (ie if your goal is to run a 10:30 1.5 mile run then your ¼ mile should be at 1:45 each lap of the quarter mile. Rest with 100m walk Add in squats or lunges to build endurance in legs as well as jumping skills.

Sit and reach — Not many people fail this test. Basically, it is a toe touch test. If you can sit on the floor with your knees straight in front of you and touch your toes — you pass. However a few people do not pass this one. It does require to add a stretching routine into your life daily to help pass this test. A good stretching plan only takes 5–10 minutes of your life and can be split up through the day even. If your hamstrings and lower back are somewhat flexible you can pass this test.

Pushups — The pushup is the most commonly used exercise in military, law enforcement, and fire fighter training programs. Learning how to ace a fitness test is required for most groups BUT being able to do multiple sets of countless pushups is usually required in most indoctrination training programs (Boot Camps, Basic Training, Military and Law Enforcement and Fire Fighting Academies). Here are some tips for the exercise that has been around for 1000’s of years.

  • Proper hand placement – Keep hands just greater than shoulder width apart and placed lower than your shoulders as if you were doing a bench press. This will place an equal amount of force on the chest, shoulders and triceps.
  • Up /​ Down movement – Pushups in this test is a 1–2 minute sprint. Building your endurance to do non-​​stop pushups for one minute is not as difficult as it may first appear. To score your best, you should focus on doing pushups as fast as you can, however exert on the UP motion and relax your arms when coming DOWN. Let gravity take you down.

These workouts are used to build a foundation for your pushup scores by using super set or pyramid workouts like the ones below:

Sample Super Set Repeat 5–10 times Pushups – 10 Situps – 10–20 on pace with goal 1 minute test

Pushup Pyramid — Do 1 pushup and build up to 25 pushups and back down to 1 in as little time as possible. If you need to, “rest” by doing a timed set of situps of 15–30 situps.

Situps — This exercise requires some stomach and lower back strength as well as hip flexor /​ psoas strength and flexibility.

  • This is a pacing exercise as with running. If your goal is 50–60 in 1 minute, you have to build up to withstand a pace of up to 1 situp per second for 60 seconds.
  • Touch elbows to knees /​ shoulders to floor – This is a full repetition for the situp and the best way to master this is to exert on the UP movement and relax on DOWN and let gravity take you to the floor. Just as with the pushup test.
  • Paced Sets – Focus on learning the pace to reach your goal. If you goal is 50 situps in 1 minute, then get 25 in 30 seconds, 12–13 in 15 seconds and develop your situp workouts with timed sets throughout your workout.
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