An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Don't sweat it

  • Published
  • By Command Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Hickey
  • 451st AEW Command Chief
I've never considered myself a "fitness fanatic," but it amazes me sometimes when I hear Airmen sweating the physical fitness test. It seems crazy to me that after several years under the new format people still need to "prepare" for their test even though the requirements are very well defined.

The basics of the test are the waist measurement, push-ups, crunches, and the run...very simple. It seems reasonable to expect that our Airmen would have incorporated proper diet and these basic exercises into their normal routine as part of their daily lives by now.

It hasn't happened yet, though, and it is pretty confusing to me why people would prefer to argue about the validity of the exercises or squabble about the waist measurements. These items are Air Force standards and we are required per AFI 36-2618 to comply with them... it is part of our profession. Put simply, these standards are a condition of employment.

Like I said, I'm no fitness fanatic. But in 28+ years I have never sweated a PT test. Sure I've worked on my run times and pushed up my own exercise program as my test date drew near. That wasn't to pass the test though, only to improve my score (in hopes that I'd be able to score 100%). Because of this, I'm confident I could "pass" the test at any time during the year with no advance warning.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to brag here (haven't aced it yet) and I definitely don't have any kind of secrets you haven't heard before. I've just made the decision to make proper diet and fitness a part of my life and I don't have to sweat the standards.

Some may still want to argue that the waist measurement is not fair and that they can't get a good score due to their body frame size. I'll agree that I've seen half a dozen people over the course of my career that fell into this category. However, all but one of them buckled down and met the standard when they quit arguing about it and just decided to "get it done."

There are no shortcuts or magic solutions to meeting the waist measurement. Eating a healthy diet and aerobic exercise are the only effective ways to reduce visceral fat. Truth be told, everyone I have ever known who has embraced these simple concepts, has reduced their waistline to the point that the measurement is no longer an important factor in their fitness test.

If you want some really good reads on what I'm talking about above, check out these two books: "In Defense of Food," by Michael Pollan and "Younger Next Year" by Chris Crowley. Pollan's book offers great insight into proper diet and explains the health benefits of getting away from a western diet. It's not a diet book, it's a general health book. Crowley's book talks not only about a healthy diet, but stresses the importance of exercise...especially in your later years.

Unlike the waist measurement, there really is an easy fix for scoring well on pushups, crunches, and the run. Just do these exercises as part of your weekly routines. If you don't like these exercises and you have other physical activities that you think are better, fine. You need to still do the testable items...then break into your preferred exercise program.

Please don't fall into the trap of thinking that running, crunches and pushups are bad for you and that you can focus on them just before the test...that's how people get hurt. You need to do them consistently throughout the year. Simple as that.

So if you haven't made proper diet and all of the fitness test components a part of your weekly routine, please give it a shot for a year. I'm confident that if you try this, you'll never sweat the PT test and you'll lead a healthier life.