Military Muscle: Are You in Fighting Shape?
Veteran’s day is coming and is a time to thank the men and women in uniform who are serving or have served in one of the Armed Forces as well as admire the dedication that it takes to stay in fighting condition.
Have you ever wondered if you are physically fit enough to cut it in the Marines, Army, Navy, or Air Force? Each branch of service has its own standards that every member must meet or exceed on an annual or semi-annual basis.
Every service member performs a physical fitness test and some branches perform multiple forms of fitness testing. Below are the different tests broken down by service with the minimum and maximum scores on each test for you to see where you measure up.
Keep in mind that these are only tests of strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness. There are many different physical training events that service members participate in on a weekly basis.
Some of these forms of PT include obstacle course negotiation, martial arts training, conditioning hikes, and more. Just because you may be able to max out a test for a given branch of service doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to keep up with the best of the best in each branch. However maxing out any of these individual tests is a great place to start.
Air Force Basic Military Test Standards
Our nation has the largest Air Force in the world and it takes a lot of fit men and women to operate and maintain all of those aircraft. To become an American airmen you must complete a Basic Military Test (BMT) that is made up of a one minute max effort push-up event, one minute max effort sit-up event and a timed 1.5 mile run.
In addition you must keep your waist circumference below 39 inches.
- Minimum*: 45
- Maximum: over 65
- Minimum*: 50
1.5 mile run
- Maximum: 8:55
*Minimum for graduating Basic Training
Navy Physical Readiness Test – Navy PRT
Think you have what it takes to serve in America’s fleet of surface and subsurface war ships? Serving as a sailor in our nation’s military requires each individual sailor to perform a physical readiness test (PRT for short) consisting of a two minute timed push-up event, two minute curl-up event, and a 1.5 mile run.
Once sailors finish Basic Training they have the option of choosing to swim 500 yards or 450 meters over the run. The major change from Air Force standards is now the push-up and curl-up/sit-up events are two minutes instead of one.
- Minimum: 42
- Maximum: 92
- Minimum: 50
- Maximum: 109
1.5 mile run
- Minimum: 12:30
- Maximum: 8:15
Navy SEAL Physical Readiness Test
The above standards apply to all Sailors.
Have you ever wondered what the standard is to be considered for the SEALs? The men in Naval Special Warfare are some of the toughest dudes on the planet. There is a higher standard of course.
The SEAL PRT that screens candidates for BUDs is composed of the same three events above only with the addition of Pull-ups and a 500 yard swim utilizing the combat swimmer stroke or breast stroke. To be considered competitive you would have to meet the following numbers on each event.
1.5 mile run
- 9-10 minutes*
500 yard swim
- 8 minutes
*run is in combat boots and trousers
Army Physical Fitness Test – PFT
The Army is the largest branch of the military and has a variety of different missions that soldiers must be fit to accomplish. To make it as a soldier in the U.S. Army you must complete a PFT that consists of a two minute push-up test, two minute sit-up test, and a two mile timed run. The major difference in standards above is the increase in distance of the running event.
- Minimum: 42
- Minimum: 53
2 mile run
- Minimum: 15:54
- Maximum: 13:00
To qualify for Ranger School things get even tougher. The first two events in the PFT, the push-ups and sit-ups, are the same but now the run is FIVE miles and pull-ups are added as well. All events are pass/fail for this particular test.
- Over 49
- Over 6
- Over 59
5 mile run
- Under 40:00
Marines Combat Fitness Test – CFT
The Marine Corps is the smallest branch of the Armed forces and is known as America’s force in readiness. Every Marine has two tests that they must pass a PFT and a Combat Fitness Test or CFT.
The PFT consists of Pull-ups, two minutes of maximum crunches, and a three mile run. The CFT also has three events.
The first is called the “movement to contact” which is a 880 yard run in boots and utility pants, the second is a maximum effort ammo can lift (shoulder to overhead press) in two minutes. The last event is known as the “movement under fire” which is a shuttle run containing two different types of crawls, a buddy drag and carry with a Marine of the same approximate bodyweight, ammo can carry and grenade throw.
- Minimum: 3
- Maximum: 20
- Minimum: 50
- Maximum: 100
3 mile run
- Minimum: 28:00
- Maximum: 18:00
Movement to Contact (880 run)
- Minimum: 4:13
- Maximum: 2:45
Ammo Can Lift (30lbs)
- Minimum: 33
- Maximum: 91
Maneuver Under Fire
- Minimum: 3:58
- Maximum: 3:01
Here is a video to help visualize the maneuver under fire event:
If you are considering joining the military there are a few things you should do to make sure that you are prepared physically for your service.
It’s clear when you look over the different fitness tests for each branch that there is an emphasis on being able to competently move your own bodyweight either through running or calisthenics. To be successful in the military mastering your own body is a must.
You have to be strong relative to your own bodyweight. This means that bodyweight training should always be present in your training program. If you can bench press a house but can’t do a single pull-up you need to start working on your relative strength.
Cardio is not going away. Most of us gravitate toward lifting weights and neglect any type of cardiovascular training whether it is running, swimming or any other form of endurance training. If you are planning on joining you must become comfortable with running. Take some time to learn proper running form and technique.
Depending on the branch you can get away with one or two runs a week but, if you want to max out any of these tests, it is going to take some consistency in your training to get there. Build up your weekly mileage gradually to avoid stress fractures and over training. Once you reach your goal mileage with each run start working on increasing the speed of your pace from week to week.
Each service has height and weight standards that each member must meet in addition to physical fitness. This means that if you need to gain or lose weight, nutrition is going to be the most influential piece that allows you to meet those standards. Even if you meet the height and weight standards for your branch of service and you are just looking to max out your PT test you should make sure that you are getting adequate nutrition to fuel your training.
Lastly, these standards all measure the physical performance necessary to serve in the military but, you cannot forget about mental toughness. You must have a strong mind to be successful in reaching the top levels of performance in the military.
There will be times where you will have little food and sleep and be exposed to the elements and your attitude will determine the success of your mission. So work on having a strong mind AND a strong body if you are planning on going into the military.
If you just wanted to see how you measure up compared to the top performers in every branch, how did you do? Was it easier or harder than you thought? Take the time this Veteran’s Day to say thank you to someone you know that has served or is serving in the military. If you have already served or are currently serving in the military, Thank You.