Trying to Assess Your Progress? These Challenging Fitness Tests Will Do the Trick

Soldier participates in Army Combat Fitness Test.
Lt. Col. Stephen Miko, 25th Infantry Division G-39, makes his first attempt at the three-repetition maximum deadlift event during a diagnostic Army Combat Fitness Test on Feb. 25, 2020, on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. (Staff Sgt. Alan Brutus/U.S. Army photo)

If you are looking for future workout goals, consider many of our military’s fitness tests. You can go from the basic PT test of push-ups, sit-ups or plank pose, to a one- to two-mile timed run, to the greater variety and intensity featured in the Naval and Air Force Special Warfare entrance fitness exams.

Many branches of service also offer combat fitness tests or human performance tests that better assess the physical attributes required to do physically demanding jobs.

The two fitness tests below are similar in the exercises they offer, but they differ in event order (swimming first or swimming last). That change will require significant alterations of testing and preparation strategies.

Navy Special Warfare/Special Ops Physical Screening Test (PST)

Swim: 500 yards

Push-ups: 2 minutes

Sit-ups : 2 minutes

Pull-ups: max

Run: 1.5 miles

Or Air Force Special Warfare Physical Ability and Stamina Test (PAST)

Pull-ups: max

Sit-ups : 2 minutes

Push-ups: 2 minutes

Run: 1.5 miles

Swim: 2 x 25-meter underwater swim

Swim: 500 meters

If you can crush the above fitness tests and also want to assess strength, power, speed, agility, endurance and muscle stamina, try some or all of the following testing events.

I tend to spread these events out throughout the week, versus doing them all in one day, since the entire PST, PAST or following test below will take 2-3 hours to complete in a single session.

Consider testing strength events in one day. Then do the same for speed and agility tests, cardio and endurance events and find out what your absolute best scores are. On another assessment period, try them all together and see how you do.

Finding your best scores on these events will assess your true abilities better as your performance will decrease when you do these events back to back.

In a separate workout and assessment event later in the day or the week, add in some of the events of the SEAL Human Performance Test (HPT) used by the teams to incorporate all the elements of fitness in addition to the typical PT test of muscle stamina and endurance.

The following tactical fitness test is a challenging measure of power, strength, speed, agility, cardio endurance and muscle stamina:

Standing long jump

Pro-agility test: 5-10-5-yard shuttle run

Body-weight bench: maximum repetitions

25-pound pull-up: maximum repetitions

Deadlift of 1.5 times your body weight: 1 rep (Can you build up to two or more times your weight?)

300-yard shuttle run: 12 x 25-yard runs (sprint nonstop, changing direction every 25 meters)

Run: 3 miles

Swim: 800 meters

Being good at all the above is the new challenge for the tactical athlete, versus focusing only on the few elements of fitness required to master a sport. If any of these assessment events are unfamiliar to you, simply search for them on the internet. They are common tests within sports and athletics.

Another option for testing yourself is to arrange events in the order that you think will help you perform at your best. This is a subtle test of strategy that is obviously important in a tactical setting, but this scheme may not yield the best results, depending on your ability to understand your own capabilities, nutritional dosing and energy systems.

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. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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