This is the time of year when people quit or forget about their New Year’s resolutions. If this is you, have you given any thought about how to get back on track? In this post, I’ll outline the simple four step method I used to improve my PT score by more than 100 points in 3 months. Anyone can use this method to set and reach their physical training goals.
Being physically fit is a Soldier’s basic responsibility. However, as a Platoon Leader I struggle with Soldiers who are not able to pass their Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). To pass the APFT, Soldiers must score a minimum of 180 points in 2 minutes of Push-ups, 2 minutes of Sit-ups, and a 2 Mile Run with 60 points in each event. The test is designed to measure Soldiers’ physical readiness in both strength and cardio.
I can empathize with the Soldiers who cannot pass the APFT. I struggled to pass for the first several months after joining the Army. My first 2 Mile Run took me 28 minutes and 32 seconds. Embarrassing to say the least.
As a future leader, I knew I had to get fit and lead my troops from the front. I had to not only pass the APFT, but excel and become an example. Below are the four steps I used to improve my score by 100 points in 3 months. I am currently using this method to max my score with 300 points.
First: Identify the Standard You Need (Want) to Meet
I needed to earn a 270 to be an officer and properly lead my Soldiers. That breaks down to 90 points in each event. I looked at the standards and identified the minimum numbers I needed to earn 270 Points.
- Push-ups: 68
- Sit-ups: 73
- 2 Mile Run: 14:12
Second: Identify the Steps to Reach Your Goal
These numbers may seem out of reach to someone who is barely passing, but they are attainable. Break that larger goal into smaller more achievable steps. I created a list of steps in my task organizer. Here is a screenshot of my plan.
Third: Identify/Plan a Training Program
Next, find a plan to meet the goal. There are a ton of free and paid apps for your smart phone that can help. I settled on three apps and one solid method to keep my training focused.
- Gorilla Workout: Body-weight training. This app focuses on progressive sets. Each day training gets a little more difficult, but by changing workouts and muscle groups each day you will keep your muscles growing. This is a great program for beginners who don’t know anything about working out. Each exercise has a thorough explanation and video instructions.
- Gorilla Weight Lifting: Similar to Gorilla Fitness with the addition of free-weights. After body-weight training, you’ll need the extra challenge.
- Strava/Nike Running: I enjoy using both these running apps. They allow you to track runs via GPS or by imputing treadmill data. They also have a social element where you can challenge your friends.
- 30/60s: I trained runners as a high school track coach using High Intensity Interval Training (HITT). Of the programs I used, 30/60s had the greatest impact. Select a time to train: something like 15 minutes.
- Start with an all out sprint for 30 seconds.
- Walk for the next 60 seconds to catch your breath.
- Repeat this cycle until your time is up.
- You can make this more difficult by running 60/120s. It will hurt in the beginning, but once you get your body working hard you’ll see the results in just a few weeks.
Fourth: Stick With It & See Results
This last step is the most difficult. Connect your goals to your current habits. Commit to training and make it part of your daily routine. Track your progress using a journal or spreadsheet. See how far you come and inspire yourself to stay on track.
If you are struggling with fitness or passing the APFT, the steps above will help you increase your PT Score in 3 months if you train consistently. Now go out and reach your goals.
What steps have you taken to reach your fitness goals?