To ensure that soldiers, sailors and marines meet minimum physical fitness standards, the military uses a physical fitness test -- commonly referred to as a PFT -- to test strength, cardiorespiratory fitness and overall ability. The test consists of three components. These comprise timed pushups and situps, followed by a timed 2-mile run. To improve your PFT score, pursue appropriate training.
A 20-Minute Circuit
Circuit training entails a collection of exercises, with each performed for a specific number of repetitions or time. For a physical training workout, you can create a 20-minute circuit. Start with one minute each of pushups, squats and pullups, followed with three minutes of running. Add another minute each of shoulder presses, lunges and biceps curls. Run for another three minutes, add a minute each of leg extensions and leg curls, before finishing with two minutes apiece of situps and crunches.
Metabolic conditioning workouts work to improve your overall cardio endurance for the running portion of the PFT. Your options include cycling, indoor rowing, swimming or running. Use a stationary bike in a local gym or fitness club or spend 20 to 30 minutes with the middle of the workout devoted to peak resistance and effort. An indoor rowing machine provides a total body cardio workout that improves aerobic and anaerobic conditioning for an improved PFT. And interval running workouts can be used to train for a specific time in the PFT.
CrossFit's 'Murph' Workout
The CrossFit program uses functional exercises and minimal equipment. The workouts focus on high-intensity, total body movements. Performing CrossFit workouts exposes you to a mixture of weight training, gymnastics exercises and metabolic conditioning. For example, the “Murph” workout calls for running one mile followed with 100 pullups, 200 pushups and 300 squats, with another mile run at the end. This type of training is ideal for military physical training.
Strength training promotes strong muscles and bones along with joint flexibility. For a member of the armed forces, strength training improves the ability to score well on the PFT. A sample workout includes five rounds of maximum repetitions on pullups followed by five repetitions on the bench press with the weight set at 50 percent to 75 percent of the one-rep maximum. Additional strength training exercises include Olympic lifts, kettlebell training, squats, lunges, deadlifts and shoulder presses.