What is an Army Physical Fitness Test?

D. Messmer
D. Messmer
The army uses a physical fitness test to evaluate the strength of its soldiers.
The army uses a physical fitness test to evaluate the strength of its soldiers.

An army physical fitness test is a set of exercises that an army uses to evaluate the strength and cardiovascular endurance of its soldiers. For the Unites States Army, the three exercises that comprise the test are push-ups, sit-ups and a timed 2-mile run. The U.S. Army requires that soldiers pass its army physical fitness test twice per year. Each exercise results in a numerical score from 0 to 100, and the soldier must score at least 60 on each exercise in order to pass the test. The U.S. Army physical fitness test is a factor in promotion decisions and is a requirement for passing army basic training, although in that case, the minimum score per exercise is 50.

The sit-up portion of the army physical fitness test does not take gender into account, but the running and push-up exercises do.
The sit-up portion of the army physical fitness test does not take gender into account, but the running and push-up exercises do.

The scoring system for the U.S. Army physical fitness test takes into account the soldier's performance in the exercise, his or her age and his or her gender. The only exception to this is the sit-up test — the scores for this test do not take gender into account. The scoring for each of the exercises varies for different age groups. The scoring standards, which begin with the 17- to 21-year-old age group, steadily increase until the soldier reaches his or her late 20s and early 30s. From that point, the standards gradually decrease as the soldier's age increases.

Marching may be learned during basic training.
Marching may be learned during basic training.

For both the push-up and the sit-up, the score is based on the number of repetitions of the exercise that the soldier is able to perform while maintaining proper form throughout the exercise. For the push-up, the soldier begins with the hands on the ground, the body in a straight line and the feet either together or up to 12 inches apart. In order to complete a single repetition, the soldier must lower the chest toward the floor until the upper arms are parallel to the floor. At this point, he or she must push the body back into the starting position, with the arms locked. The soldier has two minutes to complete as many push-ups as possible.

The sit-up requires the athlete to lie on his or her back with the knees bent at a 90-degree angle. The heel must remain on the floor at all times, and another person is allowed to brace the soldier's feet using only his or her hands. The soldier's hands must be interlaced behind the soldier's head. In order to complete a successful sit-up, the soldier must raise his or her body toward the vertical position, and the body must come to the full vertical position with the neck above the spine for the sit-up to count. The soldier has two minutes to complete as many repetitions as possible.

The 2-mile run is a timed event that requires the soldier to run the full distance within a certain amount of time. The soldier must complete the run completely under his or her own power. Walking is permitted but not encouraged, and it is very difficult for a soldier to complete the run in the proper amount of time if he or she walks for any significant portion of the run.

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    • The army uses a physical fitness test to evaluate the strength of its soldiers.
      The army uses a physical fitness test to evaluate the strength of its soldiers.
    • The sit-up portion of the army physical fitness test does not take gender into account, but the running and push-up exercises do.
      The sit-up portion of the army physical fitness test does not take gender into account, but the running and push-up exercises do.
    • Marching may be learned during basic training.
      Marching may be learned during basic training.