Many military members take a day off from training before their scheduled PT Test, take the test the following day and then be done with training. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that method, but if you want to keep training you can try the following options for the day prior and the day of the test:
The week of a PT test can be a mix of reduced volume and intensity in order to be fully prepared to score your best – especially if the PT Test is highly competitive for you to advance your rank or get accepted into a selective program. That approach is different than taking several days off prior to the test which in some cases may not be the best option. The day before the test is an ideal time to do a mobility day.
If you like to train hard, consider a mix of these options for the day of the PT Test options after you take the test, of course:
Take your PT Test but work on weakness after you complete the test. Let’s say your test involves the following events:
Push-ups 2 minutes
Sit-ups or Plank pose 2 minutes
1.5 mile run
If you have a challenge with the calisthenics (strength and endurance) portion of the test, consider doing a PT Pyramid after you have recovered enough from the high intensity effort of the PT Test.
Pull up x1
Push up x 2
Sit-ups x 2 or Plank pose (x2 reps = seconds)
You could also go into the weight room and work the same muscle groups in a different way than the bodyweight exercises of the calisthenics:
Repeat 3 times
Bench Press 5-10
Pull-ups max or pull-downs 10
Bicep or military press 10
Hanging knee-ups 10-20
If you did not do well on the run, you should consider practicing more at your intended goal pace. Try this workout after you have recovered from the PT Test.
Repeat 8 times
Run 400 meters at goal pace
- Sit-ups 1 minute or Plank pose 1-2 minutes (even sets)
One of the favorite workouts that I like to do with my local Special Ops candidates is something I call the Triple - Double. Take the Navy SPECWAR Physical Screening Test (PST) of the following:
Push-ups 2 minutes
Sit-ups 2 minutes
1.5 mile run – rest then repeat in reverse order
Then do the test in reverse after 5-10 minute recovery time, so you are actually doing a double PST. However, the next section is the “work on your weakness” section. Take any of the three events (swim, PT, run) and do either the two options above for the PT and run if those are your weaknesses, or do the following additional swim workout after completing the second 500-yard swim of the reverse PST.
50-50 Workout – This classic conditioning and technique workout does wonders for getting more competitive scores:
Repeat 10 times
Swim 50 meters freestyle fast
Swim 50 meters CSS (side stroke) at goal pace
- minimal rest but rest as needed.
This test and workout day will make any official PST day an “easy day” by itself which is the goal to building confidence as well as smart training and “game day” performance strategies that work best for you. Taking this test several times unofficially on your own will help you realize how to best prepare, pace, and perform when it counts the most.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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