The Reserve Officer Training Corps is a four-year program that allows men and women to complete their basic military training while enrolled in college. While each branch of the service has slightly different performance standards, most require future officers to complete a long distance run, pushups and situps. These exercises are graded so the faster you run and the more reps you complete, the greater your score will be. Accordingly, each workout should be done at a high intensity, striving to beat your performance from the previous workout.
The 1.5-mile or two-mile run is completed in running shoes and either starts, or ends, the Personal Fitness Test, or PFT, that is used to evaluate the physical fitness of ROTC members. While the standards vary based on gender and age, the faster you can run the distance, the better your score will be. Start by running 10 minutes three times a week and gradually increase the duration of each run until you are running for 20 minutes four times a week. If you are running slower than a 10-minute mile at this point, add hill sprints and interval training to increase your speed.
Situps are a time event lasting one minute. Candidates are expected to do more than 50 situps, also called curlups, with maximum points being awarded to those who can complete more than 100. To excel at situps, include them in your daily training program. Complete as many sit-ups as you can in one minute, but start at a slower pace. Most candidates will flunk the test because they start too fast and fatigue before the minute is up. Once you've established your baseline pace, start increasing the pace at each training session, but keep a consistent pace through the full minute.
The required number of pushups that must be completed in one minute during the PFT will vary based on age and gender. However, count on doing dozens of pushups each day during ROTC summer training. Like most other body weight exercises, you can improve maximize your performance by doing several sets of pushups at least five days a week. Start with three sets of pushups with a two-minute period of rest between sets. Stop each set as soon as you start to feel your arms fatigue. After four weeks, add a fourth set. Complete the first two sets with the goal of completing as many pushups as you can in 20 seconds. For the third and fourth sets, use a modified pushup position by putting your knees on the ground and complete as many pushups as you can in 20 seconds.
Putting It All Together
While the ROTC PFT may not seem that challenging at first glance, its difficulty is increased by the fact that the run, situp and pushup tests are completed back to back with little time for rest. You are asked to give a maximum effort in each exercise, which reduces the amount of energy you have to expend on the next portion of the test. In addition, you will most likely be in a fatigued state from lack of sleep and other training stresses. To simulate those conditions in your training, perform each exercise as if you were taking the PFT. Go for a maximum effort, and try to best your scores from the previous week.
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