Army Ranger PFT

An Army Ranger candidate trains to overcome fear of heights and water.
A U.S. Army Ranger student climbs the 60-foot tower that leads to the Slide for Life, a 100-meter zip line, at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Patrick A. Albright/Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Public Affairs)

As with any of the Special Operations units in the U.S. military, it takes endurance, stamina, intelligence and mental toughness to become a Ranger. The Army Rangers require their candidates to score the following before attending Ranger School.

The most important pre-training exercise to do before Ranger School is walking fast in your boots with 50 pounds of weight on your back. You will do this daily at Ranger School. Running at least five miles 3-4 times a week and swimming in uniform 2-3 times a week is recommended as well. Gain 5-10 pounds before going so you have a little to lose when you are consuming fewer calories a day.

Ranger PFT Minimum Scores
Push-ups in 2:00 49 in 2:00
Sit-ups in 2:00 59
Pull-ups 6
Two-mile run 15:12
Five-mile run 40:00
16-mile hike w/65-pound pack 5 hours, 20 minutes
15-meter swim with gear Pass/fail

Once selected, candidates attend three phases of Ranger School: the Benning Phase, the Mountain Phase and the Florida Phase.

The Benning Phase

The Benning Phase is executed in two parts and lasts 20 days. As with most Special Operations units, the first phase is very physical.

To be competitive in any of these physical tests, Ranger students must not strive for the minimum standards listed above and instead maximize their personal physical effort and strive for the following recommended scores:

Ranger PFT Recommended Scores
Push-ups in 2:00 80
Sit-ups in 2:00 80
Pull-ups 12
Two-mile run Sub 13:00
Five-mile run 35:00
16-mile hike w/65-pound pack 4-5 hours
15-meter swim with gear Pass/fail

The second part of the first phase has obstacle courses and long ruck (full-gear) marches as a major part of the physical fitness requirements. However, the fundamentals of patrolling and small-unit tactics are the focus of this part of the Benning Phase. These graded field exercises include ambush and reconnaissance patrols, close quarters combat, airborne operations and air assault operations. The Ranger student then must demonstrate his expertise through a series of cadre and student-led tactical patrol operations.

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Mountain Phase 

The Mountain Phase lasts 20 days and nights and teaches students to operate in small units while sustaining themselves and their subordinates in the adverse conditions of the mountains. The rugged terrain, hunger and sleep deprivation are the biggest causes of emotional stress that students encounter. Students will eat, sleep and operate in these conditions for three weeks, usually eating no more than 1-2 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) a day.

Florida Phase

The third phase, or Florida Phase, teaches small boat operations, ship-to-shore operations, stream-crossing techniques and skills needed to survive and operate in a jungle and swamp environment. This phase lasts 16 days and nights and tests the patrolling and leadership techniques of every Ranger.

Ranger School is grueling because of the long hours of walking with your gear, sleeping in the field and eating 1-2 meals less a day than normal. Many students lose 20-30 pounds in the 56-day school. But the school teaches the Ranger he can overcome insurmountable challenges while under simulated combat conditions. Ranger School has honed the professional skills and techniques necessary to conduct small-unit operations. And of course, Rangers can wear the well-deserved Ranger Tab on their shoulder.

More Army Special Forces articles:

Many of my favorite PT programs to train for the Army PFT can be found in these links:

Other Army Fitness Articles:

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Learn more about available Special Operations opportunities.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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