Prior to basic, boot camp or police academy, personnel line up to take their physical fitness tests (PFT). Though each service and agency differs in testing exercises and measuring criteria, most personnel labor over this event for several weeks prior. But for those who properly prepare themselves, the PFT can be just another workout.
Here are the exercises of all the service's PFTs and helpful tips to increase your overall score on test day:
The anxiety felt by most service members is largely due to performing within a time limit. The more your workouts are timed the better you are at "pacing" yourself, thus eliminating most anxiety.
During the pullup and pushup test, you want to perform these as fast as possible while adhering to the proper form and technique. Also, look straight up at the sky in order to use your back muscles more for pullups. Recommended workout - pyramid workout. Start off with just one pullup for the first set, two pullups for the second set and continue up the pyramid by adding one pullupfor every set possible. When you can no longer continue, repeat in reverse order until you are back to just one pullup. (ex. 1,2,3,4,5,6,5,4,3,2,1) Read "Perfecting the Pull-up" for more information.
Placing your hands in the wrong position can seriously effect your maximum score. A perfect location for your hands is just outside shoulder width. This position enables the chest, shoulders and triceps to be equally taxed. Keep hands at shoulder height when in the up position. Your pushups will be weakened if your hands are too low, wide, close or high. Read "Perfect Practice for Perfect Push-ups" for more information.
Try 5 sets of maximum pushups in five 1:00 periods.
This is an exercise you need to pace. Most people burn out in the first 30 seconds with 30 curl-ups accomplished, only able to perform another 20 or so curlups within the next 1:30. By setting a pace at, for instance, 20 situps every 30 seconds, you can turn your score of 50-60 to 80 with very little effort. Read "The Proper Technique for Curl-ups" for more information.
Try timing yourself with 5 sets of 30 seconds, setting your pace to your goal. A good pace is 20 situps in 30 seconds - totaling 80 in two minutes.
For most people the most challenging event of any PFT is by far the run. I receive many requests everyday from military members who are seeking workouts for their 1.5 mile, two or three mile PFT runs (Navy/ Army / Marine Corps respectively). Since all these distances use relatively the same training philosophy - short distance, faster pace - here are a few options to help all Armed Forces members, regardless of service, get a little faster on their runs.
Timed Run - PACE
The most important thing is to not start off too fast. Learn your pace and set your goal by pacing yourself to the finish. For instance, if your goal is to run the 2 mile run in 14:00, you must run a 7:00 mile or a 1:45 - 1/4 mile..
Recommended Workout and Techniques
The Four Mile Track Workout has worked for many military and short distance runners for years. This workout is basically interval training. Interval training means you run at a certain pace for a particular distance then increase the pace for the same distance. The Four Mile Track Workout is broken into 1/4 mile sprints and jogs and 1/8 mile sprints and jogs for a total of four miles. The workout goes as follows:
- 4 Mile Track Work - Jog - 1 mile in 7:00 - 8:00 - Three sets of: - Sprint-1/4 mile in - Jog - 1/4 mile in 1:45 - Six sets of: - Sprint-1/8 mile - Jog - 1/8 mile 1:00
Do this workout without walking to rest. The only rest you will receive is during your slower jogging pace. Try to catch your breath while you jog. Have fun with this one it is tough.
Another good speed workout is called REPEATS. Simply run a certain distance as fast as you can a specified number of times. This time you get to walk to recover and catch your breath before the next sprint.
You can try one of the following distances for a challenging workout:
Mile Repeats - 1 mile x 3-4 (walk 1/4 mile in between) = 3-4 miles 1/2 Mile Repeats - 1/2 mile x 6 (walk 1/4 mile in between) = 3 miles 1/4 Mile Repeats - 1/4 mile repeats x 12 (walk 1/8 mile in between) = 3 miles 1/8 Mile Repeats - 1/8 mile repeat x 16 (walk 100 yds in between) = 2 miles
Finally, if you have not had enough, you can try mixing shorter jogs and sprints together for a longer period of time. This type of training is great for building the speed and endurance needed for any of the PFTs or 5 or 10K races. I call them SPRINT / JOGS. Simply run about 50 yards as fast as you can then jog 50 yards fairly slow in order to catch your breath. I like doing this one where telephone poles line the road so I can just sprint form one telephone pole then jog to the next.
- Sprint / Jogs - 100 yd sprint / 100 yd jog - for 10, 20 , 30 minutes
All of these workouts are fantastic ways to get faster but build the needed endurance which most sprinters lack. Remember to take big deep breaths, relax your upperbody and slightly bend your arms. Do not run flat footed.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.