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Strategies to Prepare Your Body for a PT Test

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For military personnel, the physical fitness (PT) test measures strength, physical capabilities, and endurance. The most common one is a three-pronged version where personnel must complete a certain number of push-ups and sit-ups in a one-minute period, along with a two-mile run in a prescribed amount of time. The number of push-ups/sit-ups and the two-mile cutoff times are determined by gender and age. Regardless of where you fall on the age/gender spectrum, here are four ways to prepare for your body for a PT test.

Be progressive.

Having a progressive training program is the key to passing any of the three tests, but especially the two-mile run, says Tyler Wilkins, a performance specialist at EXOS. Rather than just attempting to run two miles as fast as possible, break the distance down into a program of interval sprints and rest. You could sprint for a quarter-mile (one loop of a track) and walk for the remainder of a two-minute period. Do that four times and you’ve accomplished an eight-minute mile. If that’s too challenging at first, try to do a 10-minute mile.

Do interval push-ups.

Interval training isn't just for running. If your goal is to do 60 push-ups in a minute and you can only do 35 at the moment, it’s tempting to just keep repeating the process, building endurance. That might work, but it would be more efficient to break up the time into intervals. Do 10 push-ups, followed by 10 seconds of rest, and repeat five times for a total of 60 push-ups. Gradually decrease the rest until you’re doing 60 push-ups continually within a minute. The same process applies to sit-ups. “Don’t just do the test, that’s easy but actually less efficient,” Wilkins says. “Instead, force you body to adapt with the changing demands.”

Taper your training pre-PT test.

If the PT test is on a Friday, don’t push yourself on Wednesday or Thursday. Consider taking those days off. “You have to be well-rested and ready to go,” Wilkins says. “Recovery is imperative.”

Have a proper mindset.

Having the proper intention is the key to achieving any goal. Such motivation shouldn't be difficult given the importance of the PT test. “You need to pass to make rank or keep or increase your pay,” Wilkins says. “You have to maintain that mindset—there’s a reason you’re doing this.”


Looking to gain more knowledge on how to improve your performance as a tactical athlete? Check out our Tactical Education courses offered at EXOS facilities and on-site to your unit.

About The Author

Pete Williams – Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.

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Tags: Mindset, Military, Running, Focus

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