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Military Fitness Tests

Military fitness tests have long been something new recruits dread. It conjures thoughts of gruelling challenges and impossible expectations. Through my fitness and athletic career I have trained many military and potential military personnel. It’s always the same, they believe they need the fitness of an elite athlete just to join.

Fitness tests at the entry level are actually quite reasonable. Although in the military you need to possess a high level of physical fitness in order to do your job effectively, a lot of this physical fitness is developed whilst in the service. The military fitness tests are to ensure the recruits are not complete sloths and couch potatoes. 

Here we will take a look at some of the basic, entry level physical fitness assessments for various military forces around the world. I have also included police and fire fighter fitness assessments. Where available I have researched some of the actual physical training undergone once a person is recruited and passed all basic fitness assessments.

At the end of this article I have included a section of my own revisions and recommendations for fitness tests and military conditioning regimes that are more appropriate and specific to the demands of military tasks.

Australian Army Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA)

45 full sit-ups for both males and females

15 push-ups for males and 8 for females

Beep test level 7.5 for both males and females

Australian Navy Physical Fitness Assessment and Recommended Fitness Program

Please note that the 500 metre swim the 2.4km run and beep test are interchangeable. Recruits will generally only perform one of these aerobic tests.

Age Less than 35 years

Male

Number of push-ups = 25

Flexed arm hang = 25 seconds

Number of sit-ups = 25

2.4km run = 13 minutes

500 metre swim = 12.5 minutes

Beep test = 7.4

Female

Number of push-ups = 10

Flexed arm hang = 25 seconds

Number of sit-ups = 25

2.4km run = 15 minutes

500 metre swim = 13.5 minutes

Beep test = 6.9

Age 35 - 44 years

Male

Number of push-ups = 20

Flexed arm hang = 20 seconds

Number of sit-ups = 20

2.4km run = 15 minutes

500 metre swim = 13.5 minutes

Beep test = 6.10

Female

Number of push-ups = 7

Flexed arm hang = 20 seconds

Number of sit-ups = 20

2.4km run = 19 minutes

500 metre swim = 14.5 minutes

Beep test = 6.2

Age 45 - 54 years

Male

Number of push-ups = 6

Flexed arm hang = 15 seconds

Number of sit-ups = 15

2.4km run = 17 minutes

500 metre swim = 14.5 minutes

Beep test = 6.4

Female

Number of push-ups = 3

Flexed arm hang = 15 seconds

Number of sit-ups = 15

2.4km run = 19 minutes

500 metre swim = 15.5 minutes

Beep test = 5.4

Age 55 and Over

Male

Number of push-ups = 6

Flexed arm hang = 10 seconds

Number of sit-ups = 10

2.4km run = 19 minutes

500 metre swim = 15.5 minutes

Beep test = 5.9

Female

Number of push-ups = 3

Flexed arm hang = 10 seconds

Number of sit-ups = 10

2.4km run = 21 minutes

500 metre swim = 16.5 minutes

Beep test = 5.0

Official Navy Recommended Preparation Fitness Program to Pass Military Fitness Tests

Week One

MONDAY:

Slow run for 30 minutes

WEDNESDAY: 

Sit ups 2 sets of 10 

Push ups 2 sets of 10 (male) 

Push ups 2 sets of 3 (female)

FRIDAY:

Slow run for 30 minutes

Week Two

MONDAY:

Slow run for 45 minutes

And

Sit ups 2 sets of 15 

Push ups 2 sets of 15 (male) 

Push ups 2 sets of 5 (female)

WEDNESDAY:

Slow run for 45 minutes

Week Three

MONDAY:

Medium paced run for 45 minutes

And

Sit ups 2 sets of 20 

Push ups 2 sets of 20 (male) 

Push ups 2 sets of 7 (female)

WEDNESDAY:

Medium paced run for 45 minutes

FRIDAY:

Medium paced run for 45 minutes

Week Four

MONDAY:

Sit ups 2 sets of 25 

Push ups 2 sets of 25 (male) 

Push ups 2 sets of 10 (female)

WEDNESDAY:

Medium paced run for 45 minutes

FRIDAY:

Sit ups 2 sets of 25 

Push ups 2 sets of 25 (male) 

Push ups 2 sets of 10 (female)

Military fitness tests

That’s the recommended fitness program for the Australian Navy in order to pass the military tests they have in place. I would recommend a more intense and frequent training regime. The purpose of this page is to demonstrate what is expected in various military tests, it’s not necessarily my personal recommendation.

The Navy recommends that you undertake this program five weeks before attending recruit school so that you get a rest for one week before you arrive.

Official Australian Navy Swim Test

You must pass the swim test to graduate from Recruit School, and you must pass the swim test to proceed to the Safety of Life at Sea Training which is a requirement for the Sea Familiarisation Training conducted between week 4 and 9 of the recruit course.

Recruits are required to wear overalls for the test and swim unaided in any manner. The RAN Swim Test consists of the following: 

3 metre safety jump from a platform 

10 metre underwater swim (body fully submerged under water) 

50 metre swim using survival strokes only (breaststroke, back scull or sidestroke) 

15 minutes treading water in overalls

It is recommended that you undertake swim training before attending recruit school in order to make the tests easier.

Australian Special Forces Direct Recruiting Scheme Military Fitness Tests

Please note that this is entry level only. The Australian special forces require enormous levels of fitness and very intense training. The level of fitness at which a recruit enters the special forces is expected to be many times higher after their initial employment training.

30 push-ups

60 sit-ups

Level 10 on the beep test

US Army Military Fitness Tests

The US Army is very similar to the Australian Army in their fitness testing requirements. They have requirements based on age group and gender for each test.

The three disciplines for US army fitness are…

2 minute push-up test

2 minute sit-up test

2 mile run

I will not include the entire chart here but I will provide a few examples of various age groups for male and female recruits.

Push-ups

MALE AGE 17 – 21

35 push-ups in two minutes

FEMALE AGE 27 – 31

10 push-ups in two minutes

The US army has a chart that determines minimum requirements for recruits and active service members for reassessment. The chart is for minimum requirements only. It goes without saying that soldiers are expected to achieve a higher level than the minimum for all military tests.

Sit-ups

Sit-up requirements are the same for male and female recruits. However the age differences still apply. Here are a few examples.

AGE 37 – 41

29 sit-ups in two minutes

AGE 17 – 21

47 sit-ups in two minutes

Two mile run

The two-mile run is a little more complicated to score. The US Army uses a points system based on the times ran. 

Here are a few examples of expected two-mile run times.

MALE AGE 17 – 21

16:36

FEMALE AGE 22 – 26

20:36

FEMALE AGE 37 – 41

24:06

MALE AGE 27 – 31

17:54

US Marines Military Fitness Tests

The US marines are a tough bunch, however I found that the entry-level fitness requirements are rather low compared to Australian and British special forces. Once the soldier is actively serving that’s a different story. 

Marines are put through the pull-up, sit-up and three mile run tests. For the purposes of this article I will show the highest requirement, which is for a male aged 17 – 26 years.

Pull-ups x 3

Sit-ups x 50

Three mile run in under 28 minutes

French Foreign Legion Military Fitness Tests

The French Foreign Legion is known as a fairly elite fighting force. I personally believe that the Australian and British SAS are a more elite and able force, but I can’t judge accurately as I have not been in either.

The physical fitness requirements and military fitness tests in the Foreign Legion seem to be very similar to most other forces. They place a high emphasis on running as running moderate to long distances is required of any fighting force.

Their primary fitness test is called the “Cooper Test”. This is a 12 minute run where soldiers are required to run as far as possible in 12 minutes. This is conducted around a running track of approximately 400 metres. The general entry requirement is 2800 metres in 12 minutes.

They also have a minimum requirement for strength and strength-endurance. They require 30 push-ups and five pull-ups. 

Another major part of the French Foreign Legion’s fitness regime is rope climbing. They focus a lot on climbing a five-metre rope with and without legs. It is considered assumed fitness to be able to climb a rope proficiently.

My Own Take On Military Fitness Tests and Military Conditioning

In my own opinion most military fitness tests and physical conditioning regimes around the world are not specific enough for the task at hand. Generally I encounter military personnel that I personally train who seem to struggle with the demands of actual military tasks and drills. 

Pull-ups, push-ups and running are a common requirement, which I agree with. However there are so many other requirements that are not being addressed. In any military service the soldier is most efficient when he/she has a high strength to weight ratio. This means a lot of strength for minimum bodyweight. It goes without saying also that a soldier must have the ability to endure long periods of physical exertion with added weight such as packs and weapons and perform many various tasks during this time. 

The following is a revised military fitness testing system that I have designed. I believe this is more accurate and will determine a soldier’s ability to carry out specific military tasks. 

REQUIRED EQUIPMENT

Swimming pool

Kettlebells or dumbbells at 16kg

400 metre running course

Pull-up bars

THE TEST

This is a timed test where recruits are required to perform the entire course within a certain timeframe. I have left this timeframe open because a benchmark has not yet been established.

400 metre run

400 metre swim

Kettlebell thrusters (deep squat with the kettlebell held like a shotput where the person thrusts into a standing position as fast as possible and at the same time thrusts the weight overhead). 20 reps on each side.

50 pull-ups (in as few sets as possible).

2km run

The entire circuit should be performed against the clock.

I also think that recruits should undergo a separate pack march with 25kg added weight for 12km and tread water for 10 minutes in cams. These tests should be separate from the main fitness test.

CONDITIONING REGIME

Military physical conditioning regimes are very much in the past. They focus on a bare minimum. It is my belief that when a soldier is operating at close to their physical threshold they are less able to focus on technical tasks.

The first aspect I believe should be incorporated into military conditioning is contextual fitness. This involves an extremely high intensity fitness session with various intervals in between of performing technical tasks. In a real combat situation the soldier is required to perform these technical tasks with maximum accuracy under adverse circumstances and exhaustion. It makes sense to train for that.

The whole idea of conditioning military personnel is to develop proficiency in as many fitness aspects and skills as possible. Military operations are rather varied and as a result require varied and fast-changing physical demands. 

Military fitness tests are basic and seem to fulfill a need to a certain extent. I do believe this can be improved upon to better serve the varied demands of military service.

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