Does the prospect of taking the Army Physical Fitness Test (AFTP) give you the jitters? Despite these fears however, you may not have much choice but to take it. Soldiers must take this test at least twice a year. Here are some tips that will help you get ready for the AFTP.
- Know the activities. The AFTP is composed of three subdivisions: push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run, in this sequence. Sometimes, an alternate aerobic activity is allowed instead of the two-mile run. Soldiers who are taking the AFTP must perform all three events in the same test period, which should not last more than two hours.
- Know what is being tested. The AFTP aims one's muscular endurance and cardiorespiratory fitness. Endurance refers to a person's capability to maintain prolonged exercise for a certain amount of time. Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to the capacity of a person's circulatory and respiratory systems to produce the necessary energy for sustained physical movements. The push-ups are used to measure the endurance of the chest, shoulder and triceps muscles. The sit-ups measure the endurance of the abdominal and hip-flexor muscles. Both activities are given two minutes each. The two-mile run tests the aerobic fitness and endurance of the leg muscles.
- A matter of points. There is a range of 0-100 points per event. For Initial Entry Training (IET) soldiers, a minimum of 50 points per event and at least 150 points for the whole AFTP are required. Non-IET soldiers (meaning all other Army soldiers) must acquire at least 60 points per event and a total of 180 points.
- Assess yourself. Before you embark on any training for the AFTP, know your strengths and weaknesses physically. Find out where to focus on and where to take it easy. You might be good at sit-ups and push-ups but not at the two-mile run. Remember, each activity focuses on different sets of muscles, so you must learn how to isolate what group of muscles you need to concentrate on for each event.
- Consult your physician. It is also a good idea to consult your physician before you start training. You might have a medical condition that may not be compatible with any physical preparation you might be undertaking. You would not want to injure yourself while getting ready for the test. Do not forget to warm-up before training.
- You are what you eat. Exercise and training are not enough to ensure that you perform at your highest potential during the AFTP. Your diet plays a role, too. Eat three meals a day, and eat healthy. Choose snacks which pile on the energy, but not the unwanted calories. You might want to consult your doctor for a nutritional plan best suited to your physical make-up.
- Set realistic goals. Do not overexert yourself and be sure to have time for rest and relaxation. Make a schedule that is compatible with your work and lifestyle, yet rigid enough to ensure complete preparation for the big day. Good luck!