A PT Program for the Naval Academy’s Summer Seminar

Stew Smith USNA PT
Stew Smith leads PT at the USNA's Summer Seminar Program. (YouTube)

Every year, I have the honor to fill a guest PT instructor spot at the Naval Academy Summer Seminar Program.

Due to COVID restrictions, we had to do it virtually again this year, but we livestreamed the workout so everyone could join.

Check it out.

However, if you prefer the text version and want to work on events that you will be tested in somewhere along the journey of getting to and through the Naval Academy, here is what we did.


  • 100-meter run or 20 jumping jacks or jump rope, 10 push-ups, 10 squats
  • 200-meter run or 20 jumping jacks or jump rope, 20 push-ups, 20 squats
  • 300-meter run or 20 jumping jacks or jump rope, 30 push-ups, 30 squats
  • Light stretching throughout each set, focusing on arms and legs.

Core Exercises

Sit-ups and plank pose will be tested as part of the Candidate Fitness Assessment for admission to the Naval Academy.

The CFA consists of the following exercises:

  • Kneeling basketball throw
  • Pull-ups
  • Shuttle run: 120 feet (4 x 30-foot runs as fast as you can)
  • Crunches two minutes
  • Push-ups two minutes
  • One-mile timed run


Crunches are still tested on the CFA, and sit-ups will be tested on the Navy SEAL/EOD/Diver PST if you're interested in that career path.

Once you get into the Naval Academy, you will be tested with the plank pose for time and cadence push-ups (up and down in two seconds). (Note: The cadence push-up is for the Naval Academy only and not a Navy-wide test.)

  • Crunches: Focus on a pace of 20 repetitions in 30 seconds
  • Flutter-kicks 20
  • Crunches 20 in 30 seconds
  • Leg levers 20
  • Crunches 20 in 30 seconds
  • Scissors 20
  • Crunches 20 in 30 seconds

Stretch stomach

The reason why we focus on a pace for crunches and sit-ups is to prepare for a two-minute test. You need to learn to maintain a sustainable pace, because most people fail this test by starting off too fast in the first 30 seconds and then failing to match their performance in the next 1:30.

By focusing on a pace of 20-25 per 30 seconds, you can find yourself in the 80-100 repetition range in a two-minute test. The extra hip flexor exercises are a fun addition to the workout to give it more of a Grinder PT feel.

Add PT Reset Exercises to balance out front-side pushing and core/hip flexor work. These exercises should be part of transitions or cooldown periods.

PT reset:

Death By Push-Ups! Plank and Push-Ups (New USNA and Navy Test)

Stay in a push-up "up" position or plank pose for 10 minutes. Do not drop your knee, but you can shake out an arm when in a side plank position. Every minute, do a step of the push-up pyramid, decreasing by one each minute on the minute.

The workout looks like this:

  • Minute 1: 10 push-ups. Stay in a plank pose for the remainder of one minute.
  • Minute 2: Nine push-ups.
  • Continue in "up" push-up position or plank pose nonstop for 10 minutes, increasing the push-up repetitions by one each minute:
  • Minute 3: Eight push-ups
  • Minute 4: Seven push-ups. Keep going to minute 10 and one push-up. That equals 55 pushups and 10 minutes of plank. We call it Death by Push-Ups, but it is more Death by Plank.

Advanced level athletes can try 10 push-ups every minute on the minute for 100 total reps if you prefer.


  • 30 push-ups, 30 squats, 300-meter run or one minute of jumping jacks
  • 20 push-ups, 20 squats, 200-meter run or 40 seconds of jumping jacks
  • 10 push-ups, 10 squats, 100-meter run or 20 seconds of jumping jacks
  • Light stretches throughout each set.

Other Activities When You Have the Equipment Available

Because of limits on facilities and equipment for our group PT, we did not do a few exercises that you also should prepare to master to prepare yourself for military service.

Try adding these exercises and mix them into a variety of calisthenics workouts that will help you prepare for any military physical fitness test.

Repeat three times.

  • Pull-ups max or flexed arm hang: max time (see Getting Your First Pull-up article)
  • Shuttle run: 120-foot sprints (4 x 30 feet)
  • Basketball throw: Three times. Stretch between throws. If you are not a throwing athlete (baseball, football QB, water polo, etc.), you will need to practice throwing daily for just a few minutes. Spend about five minutes warming up with some standing throws against a wall. Then do only three hard throws. You will find the more you throw, the worse you will perform, so limit yourself to 2-3 hard throws a day.
  • Running: One mile. Master your goal pace (do 4 x 400-meter runs to learn your pace), but you will need to build up to maintaining that pace for the 1.5-mile runs required when you are in the Navy.

Start preparing today for these events and you will be glad you did, as any of these left to chance will bite you when you take your first test. Avoid failing and having to go into the remedial training program by preparing now and practicing some actual tests beforehand for best results.

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 stew@stewsmith.com.

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