If you are thinking of joining the United States Military, you will have to take a military fitness test to enter, as well as every six months once you have completed your basic training and are serving in your military job.
There are five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces—the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard—and each have similar but different military PT tests and standards. There are also many ways to join as an officer or enlisted personnel. Below is the list of the regular military fitness tests and the basic requirements for new recruits and officers seeking entrance into the military.
Marine Corps Physical Requirements
The Marines have arguably the most difficult fitness test as it requires Marines to run an additional mile and do pull-ups. The USMC physical fitness test (PFT) requirements include crunches for two minutes, pull-ups to the maximum repetition, and a three-mile run. The Marines' fitness testing is undergoing changes and starting to add push-ups as part of the PFT.
A Marine can opt out of pull-ups and choose push-ups, but they will only receive 70 percent of the maximum score by doing so. For instance, if a new Marine maxes out the pull-ups (23), they will get 100 points. If the Marine maxes out the push-ups (87), the Marine only gets 70 points. The maximum score for the USMC PFT is 300.
Army Physical Requirements
The Army PFT consists of the following exercises: two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups, and a two-mile timed run.
In accordance with AR 350-1, soldiers have to pass the APFT by scoring at least 60 points on each event and an overall score of at least 180 points. Soldiers in Basic Combat Training (BCT) must attain 50 points in each event and an overall score of 150 points. The maximum score a Soldier can attain on the APFT is 300 points.
Navy Physical Requirements
The Navy allows its active duty sailors to choose between the 1.5-mile run or 500-yard (450-meter) swim in the Navy Physical Readiness Test. However, if you are attending boot camp, the Naval Academy, or any Navy ROTC program, you must run—the swim is not an option until you have graduated from your basic training or officer training program. The Navy Physical Fitness Test consists of two-minute push-ups, two-minute sit-ups, and a 1.5-mile run or 500-yard (450-meter) swim.
Air Force Physical Requirements
The Air Force Physical Fitness Test—which the service overhauled in 2013—requires the following exercises: push-ups for one minute, sit-ups for one minute, and a 1.5-mile timed run. Though the Air Force calls their abdominal exercise "sit-ups," they are actually crunches, if you define sit-ups as placing inter-locked hands behind your head. The Air Force sit-up is the same exercise as the Navy crunch.
Coast Guard Physical Requirements
The Coast Guard Fitness Assessment requires the member to be tested in the following events: one minute of push-ups, one minute of curl-ups or sit-ups, and a 1.5-mile run. The one-minute test is one of the differences, but the option to do curl-ups (crunches) versus sit-ups (with hands cupped behind the ears) is the other difference in exercises being tested in the Coast Guard.
Service Academy Fitness Assessment (CFA)
The Service Academies of the Air Force (USAFA), Navy (USNA), Army (USMA), and the Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) use the Candidate Fitness Assessment as their entrance exam. The test is very different from any of the active duty military physical fitness tests and consists of the following:
- Kneeling basketball throw
- Cadence pull-ups
- 120-foot shuttle-run
- Crunches for one minute
- Push-ups for one minute
- One-mile run
The major difference between this fitness test and other PRTs in the military is the use of the shuttle run and the kneeling basketball throw. The good news for the multiple service academy applicant is that you only have to take the test once for any of the academies that use this test.
The service academies are highly competitive and it behooves the applicant to score the maximum possible on these tests.
Sit-Ups, Curl-Ups, and Crunches Differences
The services all use the terms sit-ups and crunches, but while they are similar core testing exercises, they often are different in how they are performed and counted. The sit-ups require the Army soldier to lock the hands behind the head and sit up to bring the elbows to touch the knees of bent legs. The crunch requires the sailor or airman to cross the arms over the chest and sit up to touch the elbows to the legs (between knees and thighs). Curl-ups are synonymous with crunches. The Coast Guard sit-up option requires the hands to be cupped behind the ears instead of interlocked behind the head as in the Army.