How To Improve Army APFT Score FAST!

Improve Army APFT Score Fast!

2 minutes of push-ups, 2 minutes of sit-ups, and a 2 mile run. So you’re looking to improve Army APFT score huh? Have you been training and training and hit a wall when it comes to either the push-ups, sit-ups, or run portion of the test. Well you’ve come to the right place. As someone who scored a 300 on their APFT at Basic, I can tell you what I did to improve my score. Did I have the highest PT score? No, but I can give you some pointers that helped me and that I use to this day. We’ll break down each portion of the test although for most of you, you will probably be looking to improve your run time.


The best way to improve on your pushups is to do them daily and record the number of push-ups you perform each day. While you may hit a wall and get the same number for a week or so, you will eventually break this plateau. Remember that improving at something is not always a perfectly upward sloping line. There will be highs and lows but as long as the end goal is better than where you started then you’ve achieved something. The problem is that people get frustrated when they plateau and do the worst thing you can do in life…give up. The only thing in life you should give up on is a shitty relationship but hey it might be a lesson learned.

You will hear some guys tell you to keep your hands really far apart because it decreases the range of motion or it makes it look like your doing a full rep to the grader blah blah blah. I highly advise not doing this as it works a smaller muscle in your shoulder rather than the larger muscle in your chest. What I do advise though is starting with your hands shoulder width apart and slowly moving them outwards. The key to doing well on push-ups is being able to last the entire 2 minutes and being able to rest in the flexed position and then proceeding to bang out some more push-ups. If you can’t hold the front leaning rest position for 2 minutes then you are certainly doomed on push-ups. If this is the case, practice going 1-2 minutes at a time in the front leaning rest position and once you get good at it then try adding a 10-25lb plate on your back. You will notice that this will also greatly help your sit-up performance.

Key Pointers

  1. Make sure you can hold the front leaning rest position for at least 2 minutes
  2. Be able to rest with your back flexed and then come back to the front leaning rest position before doing more push-ups
  3. Make sure you come all the way up as some graders are very strict
  4. Don’t depend on or hope for lenient graders
  5. Make each rep count; you don’t want to waste energy doing 10 crappy push-ups only for the grader to not count them
  6. Remember you only need your elbows to be at a 90 degree angle for the push-up to count, don’t waste any more energy then you need by going down too far
  7. Do a couple sets every night and keep track of the number of push-ups you get in 2 minutes, 1 minute, etc. I recommend doing a 2 minute, 1 minute, 30 second drill with a couple minutes rest in between
  8. Once you reach failure, continue pushing from your knees
  9. If possible, practice doing push-ups with your hands elevated using something like the perfect push-up. Great for developing your chest by allowing you a further range of motion which will make normal push-ups seem a lot easier

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army apft situpsThe sit-up portion of the exam I found to be harder than push-ups. The number needed to max is pretty high and you need to be pretty quick to achieve it. APFT sit-ups is not only a test of your core, but a test of your hip flexors as well. If you are currently not able to complete two minutes of sit-ups then I would first focus on pacing yourself so that you are able to last the two minutes. Remember you must be making a continuous effort to sit-up and the only authorized rest position is the up position. Hand position is a personal preference but don’t forget to keep your fingers interlaced the entire time. Another key point to remember is that you only to go so far up as that the base of your neck passes the base of your spine. You don’t need to go any further than this as it only wastes time. Also be sure to not hit your elbows against your knees as you sit up because you will be disqualified.

I found the best way to practice sit-ups is to actually have a partner hold your feet for you. Remember they are only allowed to hold your feet with their hands and not their knees. I recommend practicing this way also. Do not practice doing your push-ups with your partner standing on your toes or holding down your feet with their knees. It makes it easier to do push-ups but when test day comes you will underperform as they are only allowed to use their hands. When you don’t have a partner, you can try finding something to slide your feet under like a dresser or bed frame but I found it easier to grab a 45lb plate at the gym and placing it on your feet. As an additional challenge, try doing a few sets of sit-ups while holding a 10-25lb plate behind your head

Key Pointers

  1. Make sure you are able to last the entire 2 minutes and if not, pace yourself accordingly
  2. Once you are able to last 2 minutes without stopping then try doing them slightly faster so you can do more in less time
  3. Don’t sit up further than you need to. All you need is for the base of your neck to pass the base of your spine
  4. Don’t fall back further than you need to. All you need is for your shoulder blades to come in contact with the ground, not your entire shoulder
  5. As you get tired, try lifting up your toes so that you incorporate more of your hip flexor muscles and ease the tension of your abs and lower back
  6. Have your spotter hold your ankles and not your toes
  7. Keep your fingers interlaced the entire time and do not hit your elbows against your knees
  8. Breathe in on the way down and breathe out as your sit up and continue breathing the entire time. You need oxygen to get to your muscles which results in you not getting tired so quickly
  9. As you get fatigue try throwing yourself down and bouncing back up with momentum. Only save this for the end though as it takes a little bit longer to complete each rep
  10. Do a couple sets every night and keep track of the number of push-ups you get in 2 minutes, 1 minute, etc. I recommend doing a 2 minute, 1 minute, 30 second drill with a couple minutes rest in between

improve army apft score

2 Mile Run

army apft runProbably the most difficult portion of the APFT is the 2 mile run. Most people struggle with this as they go from not running in months to trying to run 2 miles with pace. The keyword here is ‘pace’. It is not difficult to run 2 miles at a 9 or 10 minute pace, but it is hard to do it at a 7-8 minute pace. So how do you improve your 2 mile run time? By running of course. But don’t just go out there and start training as if your going to be a running a marathon. You need to make sure you incorporate speed work into your workout routine as well. I would suggest trying to run 4-5 times a week. You need to incorporate longer distance running and speed work into your program. A typical week for someone looking to run a 14 minute 2 mile would look something like this

  • Monday: Speed Work – Hit your local track for 4-5 800 meter repeats. Aim for 3 minutes per repeat
  • Tuesday: Long Run – Run 3 miles at an 8-9 minute pace
  • Wednesday: Active Recovery – Stretch
  • Thursday: Speed Work – Find a big hill and sprint up and jog back down for anywhere between 15-25 minutes. Perceived Effort should be about 7/10 to start and end up at about 9-9.5/10 when you finish. If you don’t have any hills or would prefer to run at a track then do 8 400 meter repeats. Run each repeat in about 84-86 seconds
  • Friday: Long Run – Run 4 miles at a 9 minute pace
  • Saturday: Active Recovery – Stretch
  • Sunday: Optional Run Day – If you are feeling good and have no aches and pains from the prior weeks training sessions, then feel free to either add an additional long run or speed day in

Of course this training plan can be adjusted for your abilities. Just remember that being healthy is always more important than additional training. If you wake up sore on a day you need to train then that is no excuse to miss training however if you pull a muscle or have excessive joint pain then either taking a day off or seeking the help of a medical professional is advised. Check out our article on Foam Rolling which can help work out those knots as well. Be sure to have a good pair of running shoes too. We created a list of our top 10 inexpensive running shoes here. You will also need a good sports watch and or a smartphone to track distance unless you are at the track. You don’t need anything crazy expensive either.

improve army apft score

What other tips do you have for improving your APFT Score?