Military fitness tests are tests used by the United States armed forces to assess the physical fitness of individuals in the military.
Military fitness tests are used by the armed forces to monitor the physical fitness of their forces and ensure a minimum level of fitness for all individuals in the military. Each branch of the military has its own set of requirements for the test, and each has a separate set of passing scores. Passing scores are different for men and women, and are broken down by age group. For example, a 50 year-old woman would need to do fewer sit-ups to receive a passing score than a 20-year-old man.
Each of the branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) has a slightly different set of requirements for their military fitness test. Special elite units such as the Army Rangers or the Navy Seals often have higher threshold criteria required to pass. Typically, if an individual does not pass the fitness test, he or she is required to do additional physical training and may not be eligible for promotion.
Some branches require additional sections for their fitness tests. The Navy requires a 1,476-ft. (450-m) swim in addition to curl-ups, pull-ups, and a 1.5-mi. (3.3-km) run. In some cases, a timed period on a stationary bike or elliptical machine during which a minimum number of calories must be burned can be substituted for the run portion of a test.
The purpose of military fitness tests is to determine the fitness level of individuals in the military. When used by nonmilitary individuals, the tests have two main purposes. The first is to determine fitness level in a way that allows the individual to compare him or herself to the members of the military. The second use of a military fitness test by nonmilitary individuals is as a goal. Passing a military fitness test requires a moderate-to-high level of physical fitness. Having a goal of passing such a test gives the individual a specific and concrete goal to work towards.
Military fitness tests are very strenuous. It is extremely important that individuals do not undertake a military fitness test if they are not in good physical health or do not have a high level of fitness. Anyone considering attempting a military fitness test should first consult a physician. Beginning a strenuous exercise regime can increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke, especially in individuals with a sedentary lifestyle. Beginning a new fitness regimen slowly and incrementally increasing the duration or strenuousness of the physical activity over time can reduce these risks.
Military fitness tests require a variety of different athletic activities. Many of these have their own risks. These include risks of strains and sprains, especially of the ankle and knee during the running portions of the tests. As with all strenuous physical activity, there is a risk of dehydration if adequate fluid consumption is not maintained for the duration of the test.
Military fitness tests have a variety of benefits. They allow individuals to compare their fitness level to the fitness levels of individuals in the armed forces. Military fitness tests also provide a concrete fitness goal. Having a concrete goal can make it easier to maintain an exercise regime over time.
Anyone who can successfully complete a military fitness test is in excellent shape. Being fit and exercising regularly has a wide variety of health benefits. Regular exercise has been found to decrease the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. It has even been found to reduce the risk of some cancers and decrease the likelihood that an individual develops dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, later in life.
Preparation for a military fitness test is similar to preparation for any very strenuous athletic activity. It is important to stretch all major muscle groups prior to beginning the test, to help reduce the risk of strains and sprains. The individual should make sure to have plenty of water to drink prior to the test.
When training for a military fitness test, it is recommended that the individual begin by doing a few of each required activity, and slowly build up stamina over time. It is generally more effective to work a little on each activity, instead of focusing on one activity at a time. For example, it would be more effective to run a short distance and do some pull-ups and some sit-ups each day, instead of just running or just doing pull-ups.
Aftercare for a military fitness test is similar to that for any other strenuous workout. The individual should cool down slowly and make sure to stretch every major muscle group. It is important to make sure to drink enough fluids after extreme exertion such as when completing a military fitness test. Water is excellent for hydration. Commercial products such as Gatorade contain electrolytes that can help restore balance to the body by replacing electrolytes lost through sweat. Energy drinks and drinks with added sugars should be avoided.
Only a specially trained member of the armed forces can officially administer a military fitness test. However, because the guidelines for passing are made available to the public by the various branches of the military, individuals can unofficially administer the tests to themselves and compare their results to the scores required to pass the test in the military.
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Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, 1750 E Northrop Blvd., Ste. 200, Chandler, AZ, 91403, (800) 446-2322, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.afaa.com .
Tish Davidson, AM