The U.S. military requires its service members to be physically fit. That's why it tests each service member, regardless of age, grade or duty assignment, to make sure the force is mission ready.
The Army makes sure its force is combat ready by requiring active duty members to take the physical fitness test twice a year. Reservists test once a year. Exceptions are:
- Pregnant women. They must pass the test within six months of returning to full duty.
- Service members over age 60.
- Service members prohibited by medical profiles.
Service members over age 55 with certain medical profiles may participate in alternative events for the test, including swimming, biking or walking.
Physical fitness test requirements
The requirements for the Army physical fitness test assess the strength and endurance of the upper, middle and lower sections of the body, as well as the cardiovascular system. The test includes:
- Push-ups, two minutes timed
- Sit-ups, two minutes timed
- A two-mile run
Preparing for the physical fitness test
Here are some ways to prepare for the test:
- Take advantage of Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, fitness centers and swimming pools to improve physical endurance.
- Have a physical fitness and training plan in place at least six to eight weeks before the test. Track your progress in writing, noting where you need to improve.
- Develop a backup plan for temporary duty or other interruptions of your program.
- Train with a buddy for support and encouragement.
- Pre-test yourself once a week. Time yourself on each of the events you'll be tested on. Use these results to work on improving your score.
- Cut down on fast food, stay hydrated and get enough sleep.
Morale, Welfare and Recreation on your installation for fun new ways to work out.
These tips can help you prepare for test day:
- Relax up to two days before the test, or up to five days if you're older than 40. Tired, sore muscles will do nothing to improve your score.
- Drink water, eat fruits, vegetables and lean proteins the night before the test.
- Eat one light meal on the day of your test. If you need immediate energy, try an apple, banana or carrots.
- Wear a T-shirt, shorts and running shoes.
- Drink two to three cups of water two to three hours before the test, then another cup just before. Drink small amounts of water slowly during breaks. Drink another two to three cups of water during the first two hours following the test.
- Warm up by doing a lighter version of your exercise activity, such as jogging before running. Afterward, do cool-down exercises so your heart rate and breathing return to their resting rates.
Your raw score for each event will be assigned a point value according to your age. If you have to retake the test, reassess your fitness routine and work your way back into top condition.