The Air Force fitness test (PT test) has four main components. First, there is the abdominal measurement. Basically, for males under 30 years of age, a waist less than 35 inches is considered the healthiest and will earn you the most number of points on your test. For every half-inch above 35, you lose points and must make them up on the remaining components.
Which brings us to push-ups. Push-ups have never been an issue for me, and I have never failed the push-ups portion of my fitness test. For my age group, the minimum is 33 in one minute or less. Not a big deal.
Sit-ups are a different story. Until last year, I had never failed the sit-ups portion of my test. Unfortunately, just before I deployed, I missed my minimum requirement of 42 in one minute or less by four, achieving 38. You wouldn’t typically think of 38 sit-ups as being a negative thing, but the Air Force requires that you meet not only the overall minimum score for all components combined (75 out of 100), but you must also pass all individual components by meeting their respective minimums. In other words, even if you achieve an 85 out of 100 on the overall test, but fail sit-ups, you still fail the entire test. Fair? The jury is still out on that one. Needless to say, since I failed last year, it wasn’t the best of times for me.
This year, though, seems to be a different story. I had another fitness test today, and just like years past, I still get nervous, even if I know I will be fine. It’s just something that has always bothered me and I’m not sure why. After completing my abdominal measurement, I looked at the scoring charts and realized I needed 41 push-ups and 50 sit-ups in order to pass. I would have calculated in the 1.5 mile run, but I was exempt from completing it today due to a recurring shoulder injury that seems to be iffy at the moment. Anyway, my nerves started acting up again after seeing this, because I’ve never had to achieve such high numbers in these components before. I usually hold back on my push-ups and sit-ups to save energy for the run, which is always the last component, but this time I had no excuse and no reason to hold back – I had to go for it if I wanted to pass.
I eventually made it to the testing area. After waiting for a good 15 minutes, the instructors showed up and the test began. We did push-ups first, and I was in the third group, so I had a while to wait. When it was my turn, I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know my own confidence level, and I didn’t know if I felt good enough to knock out 41 push-ups. You see, that’s the thing – you can train every single day, but sometimes test day is just awkward, and that training hasn’t mattered at all. Still though, I had to try my hardest. I got into position, the instructor began the timer, and that was it…no turning back. I push out about 35 at first, then took a short rest. I kept going and sure enough, I passed 41 on my second wind. I had a good 30 seconds remaining, so I was able to get a few more in and finish up with 49 total. What? 49?! Yes! Go me. That took a huge weight off my shoulders. But I still had to do sit-ups.
I waited around some more, because again I was in the third group to complete mine. When it came time to do them, I realized that I no longer had to do 50, since I had scored some extra points on my push-ups by doing 49 instead of 41. I was going to aim now for 45 instead, which at the time seemed more realistic.
Down on the floor I went, waiting for the timer to start. And then it started. I seemed to feel good – better than I had even training for the test. I did about 40 in my first round, rested for a few seconds, and then kept going until I hit 58. Wait, what? 58? Again…yes! How did I manage that? Who knows, but damn I felt amazing after! I knew I had passed with flying colors. But, the best part was that I scored a full 10 out of 10 points for that component by achieving my maximum of at least 57 for my age group. Unbelievable. It’s the first time in my life I have accomplished that, and it feels good.
My next fitness test will be in September, and the minimum requirements will be different since I’ll then be in the 30-39 age group. Bring it on.