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How to Dominate your APFT Event

Tips and strategies to steel your body for test day

The weeks leading up to the APFT are often stressful for Soldiers who don’t prepare for the test or who are trying to simply rely on their training to do their best. If you fall into one of those categories, the following tips will help you boost your preparedness and confidence leading up to your test. 


Two weeks before your APFT, do a diagnostic test so you can see where you need fine-tuning. If you keep the APFT standards in mind during this practice test, there should be no surprises on the morning of the real thing. Have a copy of the APFT Scorecard so you can determine your score and set a goal for the test.


1. Push-up: If you burn out before the one-minute mark of your push-up diagnostic, incorporate two-minute sets every other day to develop endurance. On the day in between, incorporate Tabata push-ups (20 seconds of push-ups, 10 seconds of recovery, 8 rounds) to increase your speed of movement.  

2. Sit-up: Divide your diagnostic sit-up score by four and perform that many sit-ups every minute for 4-6 minutes. During the rest time before the next minute begins, stretch your hip flexors using the thigh stretch from the recovery drill in Field Manual 7-22. 

3. 2-mile run: If you are still off target for the run, incorporate 30:60s and 60:120s (sprint 30 seconds, jog 60 seconds or sprint 60 seconds, jog 120 seconds) and a 3-mile run two to three times as time permits before your APFT. Run on alternate days with optional cross-training on a bike or in the pool for 20 minutes.      

4. The day before the test, do only light activity, with an emphasis on stretching. The more open your chest, hip flexors, hamstrings and calves are, the more they'll be ready. 



These two exercises will boost your preparation by requiring you to do more than the APFT push-up and sit-up.


Perform one perfect push-up, and at the top, pull the right knee forward to touch right tricep. Hold this position for 2 counts and then cross it over to left tricep for 2 counts. Repeat with push-up and left leg. Emphasize depth at bottom of the push-up and core engagement/full extension at the top of the exercise. Sets: 2-3. Reps: Perform 10-20 push-ups, incorporating authorized rest position as needed.

Tip: Focus on maintaining a tight body position head to toe in order to train your core to remain active throughout your set.  



Execute standard sit-up holding a 10-20 pound weight across your chest. Relax shoulders and perform at a rate that allows you to engage your abs throughout the range of motion. Sets: 2-3. Reps: Start with 15 and build to 30.  

Tip: Focus on moving straight up and down, engaging abdominals evenly.



After you finish your sets of criss-cross push-ups, perform a one-minute max effort set of standard push-ups and record how many reps you complete. Follow a similar plan after you finish your weighted sit-ups: Perform standard sit-ups for one minute at max effort, focusing on fast reps. Combining perfect form with quick reps while you’re fatigued will help you get ready for your APFT. Don’t perform this challenge within 48 hours of your test.


Heading into your APFT, your goal is to be hydrated, fueled and feeling light. The day before the test, limit consumption of coffee, caffeinated and sugary beverages, and eliminate them entirely after noon—switch to water. Keep proteins light—think grilled meats versus heavy burgers or fried options. Choose sweet potatoes, oatmeal and bananas for carbs. A light breakfast of yogurt and fruit, or peanut butter and a banana will give you energy without weighing you down.

To see tips and strategies for the APFT's three events, visit GX's Push-Up, Sit-Up and 2-Mile Run links. For more fitness articles, go to