Recruits for each of the military services must take a physical fitness test before enlisting. Service members must also undergo periodic physical fitness tests. Passing these tests is more than simply enlisting; they’re designed to assess physical condition and capability to perform required duties. Doing well is also an indicator of good health. As with any test, you can mprove your test performance with knowledge and preparation.
The U.S. Army and the Marine Corps have the most demanding entrance physical fitness tests of all the services, so I will discuss them
The US Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) tests muscular strength, endurance, and cardiovascular respiratory fitness. Each is essential for soldiers to be able to successfully perform the missions required of them. The APFT is required of all soldiers seeking to enlist in the active army, the Army National Guard, or Army Reserve.
The APFT has three parts, designed to test the endurance, strength, and movement ability of three main muscle groups of the body. They include:
Pushups – indicate chest, shoulder, and triceps muscle strength. Required to do as many as possible in two minutes.
Situps – test endurance of abdominal and hip-flexor muscles. Must perform as many as possible in two minutes.
Two-mile Run – tests cardiorespiratory (aerobic) endurance as well as endurance of leg muscles. Recruits are required to complete the two miles as quickly as possible.
Alternate testing – Individuals with physical limitations that make it impossible to perform the full three-event APFT, can be required to perform alternate aerobic tasks. These tasks are 800-yard swim, 6.2 –mile stationary bicycle ergometer test, 6.2-mile bicycle test on one-speed bike, and 2.5-mile walk test. These events are all pass-fail, requiring applicants to complete them within a certain time.
For information on how the APFT is scored, check army.mil.
U.S. Marine Corps – Every member of the US Marine Corps is required to engage in an effective physical conditioning program (PCP) on a continuing basis.
Marines must take the PCP semi-annually. There are three events.
Pull-ups (males) – To test arm strength; recruits are required to do three pull-ups.
Flexed Arm (females) – This is the alternative to the pull-up required of female Marines, and individuals must be able to perform this exercise for 15 seconds.
Crunches – Designed to test the strength and endurance of the abdominal muscles. Depending on age, individuals are required to do from 40 to 50.
Three-Mile Run – A test of cardiovascular and leg muscle endurance, the 3-mile run must be completed in 28 to 36 minutes depending on age and gender.
Test Preparation – You get better at exercises by doing them. Doing the selected exercises every other day for a couple of months will prepare you to ace them. According to the guest writer for this article and a US Marine, “When I entered the military back in the early 60s, I first applied to the Marine Corps, but even then, their PT test was a lot harder than the army test, so of course, I ended up wearing army green. They’re not nearly as hard today as they were back then, but neither is high school PT.”