U.S. Army Soldiers conduct their two-mile run during the Army Physical Fitness Test

Meeting Fitness Standards

Physical fitness is a big part of life in the military. It’s required. To make sure our military force is mission ready, each service member — regardless of age, grade or duty assignment — is regularly tested. While there are some exceptions to the rule, you’ll have to prove your physical fitness on a regular basis.

Contact a Military OneSource Health and Wellness Coach online for help getting fit — or call 800-342-9647 and a Military OneSource consultant will register you and schedule your first session with a health and wellness coach. You can meet your coach by telephone, online chat or video chat. Otherwise, take the following steps to stay fit — and avoid any unpleasant surprises.

What to expect

Each service branch requires its own unique fitness test, but generally they include:

  • Push-ups, between one and two minutes, timed
  • Sit-ups, one and two minutes, timed
  • A 1.5-, two- or three-mile timed run
  • Other fitness requirements such as pull-ups, flexed-arm hang and lifts

How to prepare yourself in advance

Be ready to perform. Here’s how to prepare:

Improve your endurance. Take advantage of your installation’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, fitness centers and swimming pools.

Have a fitness plan. Put your training plan in place at least six weeks before the test. Track your progress in writing. Note where you need to improve. Have a backup plan for temporary interruptions.

Train with a buddy. The support and encouragement are priceless.

Pre-test yourself. Do it weekly. Time yourself on each of the events in the test. Work hard on improving your score.

Cut down on fast food. Or you’ll wish you did. Stay hydrated. Get good sleep.

Test day: what to expect

Doing the right things before the test will make a big difference. Follow these tips:

Don’t test on sore muscles. Relax up to two days before the test. Or up to five days if you're older than 40.

Drink and eat right the night before. Drink plenty of water. Eat fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.

Just one light meal on the day of your test. If you need immediate energy, eat an apple, banana or carrots.

Dress right. Wear a T-shirt, shorts and running shoes.

Get the hydration right. Drink two to three cups of water two to three hours before the test. Then:

  • Drink one cup of water just before the test.
  • Drink small amounts of water slowly during breaks.
  • After the test drink two to three cups of water in the first two hours.

Warm up. Do a lighter version of each exercise, such as jogging before running.

Cool down. After the test, cool-down exercises help your heart and breathing return to their resting rates.

Understanding your results

Your raw score for each event will be converted to a point value according to your age. To pass the test, your new score will need to exceed a predetermined number. If you have to retake the test, reassess your training and work your way back into top condition.