Army Physical Fitness Test

What are the Physical Requirements to Join Army?

All soldiers in the Active Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve must take the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) regardless of their age. The APFT is a three-event physical performance test used to assess muscular endurance and cardio respiratory (CR) fitness. It is a simple way to measure a soldier’s ability to effectively move his body by using his major muscle groups and CR system. Performance on the APFT is strongly linked to the soldier’s fitness level and his ability to do fitness-related tasks. An APFT with alternate test events is given to soldiers with permanent profiles and with temporary profiles greater than three months’ duration.

The APFT is a three event Physical Performance Test used to assess Endurance. The three events are:

  • Sit-ups
  • Push-ups
  • 2-mile run

It is a simple way to measure a soldier’s ability to move his body by using a few major muscle groups and cardiorespiratory system. The intent of the APFT in the Physical Fitness Program is to provide a baseline assessment regardless of MOS or duty.

Test Sequence

The test sequence is the push-up, sit-up, and 2-mile run (or alternate, aerobic event). The order of events cannot be changed. There are no exceptions to this sequence. Soldiers are allowed no less than 10 minutes, but ideally no more than 20 minutes, to recover between each event. Under no circumstances is the Army Physical Fitness Test valid if a soldier cannot begin and end all three events in two hours or less.

PUSH-UPS (2 minutes)

Army Physical Fitness Test - PUSH-UPS
Army Physical Fitness Test-PUSH-UPS (2 minutes)

Proper hand placement can determine how well you perform. Place your hands at just below shoulder height and just greater than shoulder width apart, with fingers pointing at the 11 o’clock (left hand) and the 1 o’clock (right hand) positions. Your upper arms (above the elbows) should create a 45-degree angle with your torso when in the “down” position. Practice push-ups every other day using a variety of set and repetition numbers, but push your ability to do push-ups and you will improve your push-ups.

SIT-UPS (2 minutes)

Pace yourself. Many people fail sit-ups because they start out too fast and fail to match their performance in the first 30 seconds in the rest of the event. Set a goal pace of (approximately) 20 sit-ups in 30 seconds. That will give you 40 sit-ups in one minute and 80 sit-ups in two minutes, for an above-average score. This can be done with practice three to four days a week in timed 30-second and one-minute sets.

Two-Mile Run

Army Physical Fitness Test - two mile run
Army Physical Fitness Test-Two-Mile Run

You have to practice running to run a two-mile run faster. Plan to run four to five days a week. Alternate with fast run intervals of 1/4 to 1/2 mile distances at above pace speed, as this will help you to develop “muscle memory” for your pace. Build up to running two to three miles of distance a day, four to five days a week in order to master the two-mile timed run. Learn to do a two-mile run after days you do upper-body work (push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups) so you get used to the transitions of the actual test.

If you can’t complete the two-mile run due to medical reasons, army physical fitness test regulation allow alternate aerobic events. There aren’t any substitutes for the sit-ups and push-ups.

To evaluate their physical fitness and the effectiveness of their physical fitness training programs, all military personnel are tested biannually using the APFT. However, soldiers may be evaluated more frequently than biannually.

Test Results

The soldier’s fitness performance for each Army Physical examination Test event is determined by converting the raw score for each event to a point score. Point scores can be found on the Standards page for each event (See Above).

Scoring Categories

There are two APFT categories of testing for all military personnel: Initial Entry Training (IET) and the Army Standard.

IET Standard

The APFT standard for basic training is a minimum of 50 points per event and no less than 150 points overall by the end of basic training. Graduation requirements for AIT and One Station Unit Training (OSUT) require 60 points per event.

Army Standard

All other Army personnel (active and reserve) who are non-IET soldiers must attain the minimum Army standard of at least 60 points per event. To get credit for a record APFT, a medically profiled soldier must, as a minimum,complete the 2-mile run or one of the alternate aerobic events.

Properly Interpreted, Performance on the APFT Shows the Following:

  • Each soldier’s level of physical fitness
  • The entire unit’s level of physical fitness
  • Deficiencies in physical fitness.
  • Soldiers who need special attention

In an effort to help soldiers achieve the minimum goals of the Army Physical Fitness Test, the Army Field Manual (FM 21-20) Physical Fitness Training, describes drills and exercises that should be carried out regularly to meet the required standards for the APFT:

  • APFT Calestinics Exercises
  • APFT Conditioning Drills
  • APFT Guerilla Exercises
  • APFT Obstacle Courses
  • APFT Rifle Drills
  • APFT Log Drills
  • APFT Aquatic Exercise

If you want to maximize your score on the Army PFT you will need to commit to a regular workout routine. The following are techniques and information that will help to meet the APFT required standards:

  • Muscular Strength and Endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Nutrition

One Final Tip : Transition from the upper body calisthenics part of the Army physical fitness test makes running the two-mile timed run more difficult. Use the “rest time” in between events to stretch your upper body prior to running in order to get your best performance on the fitness test.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad