The Secrets to Passing Military Fitness Tests

Learn the minimum standards for passing the Armed Forces' physical tests, and get tips from former Navy Lieutenant Stew Smith to improve your performance.

Navy Push-Ups

Do you have what it takes to become a Marine? If you can't do a Pull-Up, guess what? You do not. Each military branch subjects its recruits to a physical test, which they must pass before entering basic training. How do you stack up against the minimum requirements (below)? Not cutting it? Former Navy SEAL Lieutenant Stew Smith offers tips to help you make the grade.

Pull-Ups (Marines)

Minimum to pass
Men: 3
Women: 15-second Flexed-Arm Hang

Gold standard
Men: 20+
Women: 70 seconds

Lt. Smith Says: "Start training with ladders to build your stamina. Do sets of one, then two, then three, all the way up to 10 Pull-Ups, then go back down again. Treat Pull-Ups like a heavy weightlifting exercise. If you do them more than three times per week, you'll start seeing negative results."

Quick Trick: "People with bigger lats tend to do better with a wider grip, while bigger-armed folks do better with a closer grip."

Push-Ups (Navy 2-Minute Test)

Minimum to pass
Men: 42
Women: 19

Gold standard
Men: 92+
Women: 51+

Lt. Smith Says: "See how many Push-Ups you can do in one set. Multiply that number by five, so if you do 50 Push-Ups at once, aim for 250 total per workout. If you can't do Push-Ups for two straight minutes, do as many reps as you can, then hold a Plank for the rest of the time."

Quick Trick: "Sliding your hands in or out a few inches toward the end of the test can help you gut out  some extra reps."

Sit-Ups (Army 2-Minute Test)

Minimum to pass
Men and women: 53

Gold standard
Men and women: 78+

Lt. Smith Says: "Train with sets of time, not reps. If your goal is 100 Sit-Ups in two minutes, practice doing 25 reps in 30-second sets.You'll be able to rely on muscle memory during the test. Top out at 200 Sit-Ups per workout. Performing Planks can help if you're feeling lower back pain."

Quick Trick: "The Sit-Up test is all about pace, so don't start fast. It's like sprinting the first quarter-mile of a 2-mile run."

1.5-Mile Run (Air Force)

Minimum to pass
Men: 13:36
Women: 16:22

Gold standard
Men: 9:12 or less
Women: 10:23 or less

Lt. Smith Says: "Learn to pace yourself. Start training by running 10 quarter miles at goal pace, with a minute rest between. If you progress to where you can guess your pace without looking at a watch, you're doing good. In four weeks, you should be  able to run a full mile at your target pace."

Quick Trick: "Don't huff and puff through runs. Inhale for three steps, then exhale through the next three. Repeat."

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