Which Service has the Easiest PT Test?

Let’s say you are a 22 year old male in the military and you’re not great at PT. Which branch of the service would give you the easiest chance at passing the PT test? Let’s compare each branch and see what it would take to complete the bare minimum.

US Army

Standards are found here. To pass you would need:

  • 2 mile run in 16:36 (16 minutes, 36 seconds)
  • 40 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • 50 situps in 2 minutes
  • 22% body fat

US Air Force

Standards are found here.To pass the Air Force PT test you would at least need:

  • 1.5 mile run in 13:36 (13 minutes, 36 seconds)
  • 33 push-ups in 1 minute
  • 42 sit-ups in 1 minute
  • 39 inch or less waist

Note: The numbers above are bare minimum for each event and would actually be considered a failure. You need to do better in at least one of the other categories to pass the test.

US Navy

Standards are found here.

  • 1.5 miles run in 13:30 (can be run on treadmill) or at commander’s discretion: 500 yd swim in 13:00, eliptical for 14 minutes, or stationary bike for 14 minutes
  • 37 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • 46 sit-ups in 2 minutes
  • 23% body fat

US Marines

Standards are found here.

For the Physical Fitness Test portion:

  • 3 mile run in 28:00 minutes
  • 3 pull-ups
  • 50 sit-ups

Note: Like the Air Force, you must do better than the minimum in at least one of the events to pass the entire test, as it works on a point system and the minimum for each area is not sufficient.

For the Combat Fitness Test portion:

  • Run 880 yard Movement to Contact course in 4:13
  • Lift 30 pound ammunition can from shoulder height to overhead 33 times within 2 minutes
  • Complete 300 yard Maneuver Under Fire shuttle run course in 3:58

Result:  US Navy has the Easiest PT Test

Comparing everything together, the Navy has the easiest PT test, due to the lower requirements, and range of options available to complete the run portion (treadmill, bike, swim, etc).

Run Times

We can compare the run times as a one mile pace:

Service One Mile Pace
Army 8:18
Air Force 9:04
Navy 9:00
Marines 9:20

The Air Force has the slowest one mile pace. But while the Navy is just four seconds faster, they can run their test on a treadmill. This gives you a significant advantage, allowing you to simply stay on the treadmill at a set pace rather than pace yourself on a track through the entire test.

The Marines have the hardest test, having to keep a 9:20 pace for three miles!

Easiest run time: Navy

Push-Ups

Service Push-Ups
Army 40
Air Force 33
Navy 37
Marines n/a

The Army requires the least amount of push-ups for any service.

Sit-Ups

Service Sit-Ups
Army 50
Air Force 42
Navy 46
Marines 50

The Air Force requires the least amount of sit-ups. The Navy is not far behind.

How the PT Test Impacts Promotion

While this review of service PT tests showed that Air Force and Navy tests were the easiest, it is important to note how each branch factors these tests into promotions.

From my experience, the Army and Marines place high importance on PT performance. So if you got the minimum scores listed above, you would be looked at poorly on a performance report.

However, Air Force and Navy are typically pass/fail with their PT tests. As long as you are passing the test, your supervisor will be happy. You can still get a glowing performance report if everything else with your work is stellar.

How PT is Integrated into Daily Work

Another factor to consider with these tests is how often you can work out as part of your normal duty day. Army and Marines will provide more time during work hours to run and stay fit. They will have more challenging programs which will likely keep you in shape.

The Air Force has improved in this area, and some squadrons have good PT programs. But you can not expect a Navy or Air Force unit to keep you in top shape like a Marines unit would. You will have to do more on your own to stay in shape.

Keep the big picture in mind when choosing which service to join, and which PT test seems the easiest!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Smith June 1, 2017 at 11:38 am

You compared the push-ups and sit-ups without considering that there are differen’t time limits. Doing 42 situps (Air Force) in one minute doesn’t compare to doing 46 (Navy) in 2 minutes.

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Terry October 12, 2017 at 1:13 pm

I agree but when I was in the Army it seemed like most folks maxed out 40 sit ups before the 1 min mark anyways and beyond that it really was trivial to squeeze in an extra few sit ups every 15 seconds or so. Sounds like the Air Force has the “Smartest” PT test(s).

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Mark Relihan September 13, 2017 at 9:02 am

You mixed up Army and Air Force push-ups. Army is 40 not 33

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Terry October 12, 2017 at 1:17 pm

HOOORAH! The Army requires the MOST amount of push-ups for any service!

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Casey October 13, 2017 at 6:52 am

Good point! I fixed the error.

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