How to Build Speed and Power for PT Tests

A soldier bear crawls during a battalion fitness competition.
A soldier of 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, bear crawls during a battalion fitness competition at Fort Stewart, Georgia, Aug. 16, 2018. (Sgt. Brian Johnston/U.S. Army photo)

How do you max your PT test scores? A mix of weights; calisthenics; shorter, faster running and swimming will do the trick. Here is a classic version of placing time limits to events and doing fast, high-quality reps, runs and swims.

The following calisthenics exercises are to be done quickly with minimum rest in between. The added stair crawls or bear crawls add to a complete core challenge during this 30-minute workout that involves doing as many rounds as you can:

PT workout:

  • Warmup with short run/PT pyramid 1-10
  • Run 25 meters, one push-up
  • Run 25 meters, two push-ups 
  • Run 25 meters, three push-ups ... Keep going to 10 while doing stretches throughout warmup.

Repeat for 30 minutes.

  • Push-ups 25
  • Sit-ups 25
  • Dips 20
  • Stair crawl up/down or 25 meters bear crawls
  • Pull-ups max

Run repeats:

Repeat for 30 minutes.

  • Run a quarter-mile faster than goal pace.
  • Run a half-mile easy but strive to see how close you can get to goal mile pace for longer, timed runs (3-4 miles).

Swim (optional if needed to master a swimming test, too)

Repeat for 30 minutes.

  • 100 meters fast as you can
  • 100 meters easy (steady pace)
  • Rest with one-minute tread (no hands)

Enjoy. This workout, which develops speed and power, is as hard as you put out on these circuits.

Keep track of how many sets you can get done in 30 minutes. Do this once a week for a four- to six-week cycle and see whether you can improve your set count per time. Then take a PT test and see how it translates.

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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