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How to Maintain APFT Form All Year

Tips and strategies to keep your focus on fitness each week
Photo by MSG Mark Bell; Illustrations by Kyle Hilton
Photo by MSG Mark Bell; Illustrations by Kyle Hilton

Whether you think the APFT is the best measure of overall fitness or not, the simple fact is that it’s a straightforward test—and it’s never a surprise. The standards are published, and so is your test date on the unit yearly trainingcalendar. By incorporating as little as one hour of focused training each week of the year, you can stay ready to pass the APFT on your given date.

THE STANDARD

Always train each exercise to standard so you’re ready to test—regardless of the grader. For scoring standards, see DA Form 705. For APFT instructions, go to ArmyPRT.com/APFT/index.shtml.

THE SCHEDULE

 

TRAIN UP

1. PUSH-UP: PROTRACTED PUSH-UPS

While push-ups primarily test the chest and triceps, focusing more on the core and scapula will make you much stronger from head to toe.

DESCRIPTION: Scapular protraction occurs when the shoulder blades are actively separated, creating a solid platform on which to push. In addition, keep your tailbone tucked, your abs drawn to your spine and your legs tight. This maintains a rigid position during extension, as opposed to sagging. Sets: 3–5. Reps: Perform as many push-ups as you can in 30 seconds. Over time, build to 60 seconds.

TIP: Hold the top of the push-up. Extend fully to push your shoulder blades apart for a three-count before the next rep.

2. SIT-UP: HOLLOW HOLD

This position strengthens the transverse abdominis, which resides underneath those six-pack muscles.

DESCRIPTION: Begin on your back with legs bent. Lift your hips to tuck the tailbone before returning hips to the floor. Raise torso 2–5 inches into a crunch and draw abs toward the spine. Extend legs forward while maintaining this ab engagement. Hold this position while keeping abs, glutes and quads engaged and shoulders relaxed. You should be able to breathe smoothly throughout. Sets: 3–5. Reps: 30–60 seconds.

TIP: Arms can be extended along your sides, out in a T or overhead. The primary focus is to keep your tailbone tucked and abs drawn in tightly. If this hurts your lower back, raise your legs away from the ground and start with sets of 10–15 seconds.

3. 2-MILE RUN: BUILDING YOUR AEROBIC BASE

Without a deep aerobic base, you will always feel like the 2-mile run is taking you to the red zone.

DESCRIPTION: Calculate your maximum heart rate (HR) using the equation 208 - 0.7(age) = max HR. Then calculate 70–80 percent of this number. So, if you’re 23, your target HR is 134–154. Train in that zone, even if it means running slower than normal. This is a long-term strategy to build aerobic fitness—not a last-minute cram session.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

A wise nutritionist once said, “You are what you digest.” Even if you’re following a healthy diet, is your gut able to absorb all the nutrients? Increasing your probiotic intake is one way to help your gut do its job. An easy way to add probiotics to your diet is to include a daily forkful of fermented veggies—like kimchi or sauerkraut—and a cupful of kombucha tea. Look for brands with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving—or try probiotic capsules from brands containing more than 1 billion CFUs.

To see tips and strategies for the three APFT events, visit GX's Push-Up, Sit-Up and 2-Mile Run articles. GX also has tips for test day.

For more fitness articles, go to GXonline.com/fitness