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What Is a Military Physical Fitness Test?

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  • Written By: David Bishop
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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A military physical fitness test is an evaluation of a soldier's ability to perform strenuous tasks. In the United States military, a soldier must pass a physical training (PT) test to graduate from basic training and then take the test twice each year to ensure he is maintaining his fitness levels. Failure to pass the fitness test can limit a soldier's opportunities for advancement. The U.S. military encourages soldiers to perform a PT regime during their time in the service. Soldiers are also required to conform to body mass index (BMI) standards in addition to the fitness test.

The physical standards for U.S. soldiers have evolved over time and vary based on age, sex, specialization and service branch. Special Forces members and other elite soldiers must maintain higher levels of fitness. An excellent score on a military physical fitness test can improve a soldier's chances of promotion and admission to military schools.

As of 2011, the U.S. Army physical fitness test consists of three elements: push-ups, sit-ups and a 2-mile run. An 18-year old male soldier must be able to perform at least 42 push-ups and 53 sit-ups to qualify for active duty. He must also complete a 2-mile run within 15:54 minutes.

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The U.S. Marine Corps physical fitness test is made up of three parts: pull-ups for men or a flexed arm hang for women, crunches and a 3-mile run. An 18-year old male Marine must finish at least three pull-ups and 50 crunches. An 18-year-old female Marine must be able to hang from a bar for at least 15 seconds. In addition to its regular military physical fitness test, the Marine Corps also has adopted a combat fitness test designed to evaluate a Marine’s stamina in battlefield conditions.

The U.S. Navy’s physical readiness test is similar to that of the Army except with a shorter running element. Navy SEALs must maintain a much higher standard of physical fitness. The SEAL test adds a 500-meter swim and pull-up requirements to the standard push-up, sit-up and running evaluations.

The U.S. Air Force physical test has four parts: push-ups, sit-ups, a 1.5-mile run and pull-ups. A male airman must complete 45 push-ups and 50 sit-ups, and the run must be performed in 11:57 minutes or less to pass basic military training. Pull-ups are not required to pass the fitness test but are necessary to achieve higher fitness standards.

Aspiring soldiers are encouraged to work on physical fitness before reporting to basic training. Training is generally easier for soldiers who are already able to pass the military physical fitness test. Failing the test generally results in a soldier being placed in remedial fitness training until he can perform to the minimum standards of his service branch.

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