Ok, so the term “Boot Camp” is now used for a variety of non-military exercise routines at your local gyms or former warehouses converted into trendy CrossFit fitness meccas. The appeal of the workouts come from the association with an actual Boot Camp, a proverbial test of fitness, health and sheer wheel that almost all military recruits go through prior to becoming members of the military.

It is that test of will, endurance and fitness that has such an appeal among the public who sign up for those Boot Camp classes. While celebrating Memorial Day yesterday, we wanted to see how an actual military Boot Camp functions, what exercises are used, and what level of fitness must a recruit be at in order to get through the gauntlet of the US Military’s grueling physical and mental test.

Prior to going through Boot Camp, the US Military branches administer what is called the Personal Fitness Test, or PFT for short.

In order to prepare for the test, every recruit has to master the Pull-Up, The Push-Up, the Sit-Up and endurance running, primarily in form of the 1.5 to 5 mile run.


If you can do 49 push-ups in 2 minutes, 6 pull-ups, 59 sit-ups in 2 minutes, you may be on your way to admittance to Ranger school. Keep in mind, you’ll also have to complete a 2 mile run in 15:12, a 5 mile run in under 40:00, a 16 mile hike in full gear (65 lbs) and a 15 meter swim with gear.


To be admitted into the Navy’s Boot Camp, and stay in the Navy, you’ll have to pass a bi-annual test consisting of push-ups, sit-ups and a timed 1.5 mile run. The run can be substituted with a 500 meter swim.

Air Force

Want to get into the Air Force? You’ll have to brush up on your push-ups, sit-ups and a timed 2 mile run. A similar test to the Navy’s fitness test featuring push-ups, sit-ups and a timed 1.5 mile run is administered once a year for all personnel.


The Marines are tested on flexibility, strength and endurance with a test featuring push-ups, sit-ups and a timed 3 mile run. Male Marines are tested on the “dead hang” pull-up, requring that the arm be totally extended, while female Marines are tested on the “flex arm hang,” allowing to maintain a slight bend at the elbow. The test is also administered every six months.

Coast Guard

The US Coast Guard abides by the Navy PFT, with additional swimming and diving tests.

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