How to perfect the APFT
For Soldiers interested in perfecting the Army Physical Fitness Test it is fitting to talk about what can be done to improve fitness results through scientific and empirical evidence proven techniques.
First, consult a physician if you are concerned about your health before starting an exercise training program.
Second, set a goal for the APFT. More specifically, set a short-, medium- and long-term goal. An example of a short-term goal would be, “What do I want to accomplish this week?” A medium-range goal could be approximately a month from the starting date, while the long-term goal would be the actual APFT.
By breaking the goals into smaller increments it will seem more manageable. Also, keep in mind, all goals must be achievable and realistic. It does not do any good to write down an unrealistic goal. When one writes down the final goal he or she must count the days backward from the test date to the present day. This will allow for the most favorable results.
Don’t deviate. For example, if your goal for the pushups portion of the APFT is 100 and initially you started at 50 and finished with 90 on test day, this could have been foreseen in one’s training much sooner. Training is a process of breaking up your workout into smaller cycles (micro, meso, etc.), varied intensities, volume, frequency, and duration, to “peak” at the right time.
Once the goals have been written down (where one can see them daily), the next step is to implement the plan.
How many days per week to work out: two times per week, three times per week or maybe a split routine of four days per week and so on. Find a schedule that fits your lifestyle and stick to it. Be sure not to miss workouts.
Resistance training is always beneficial. Lifts for the entire body are recommended with specific attention to the following muscle groups to achieve optimum results for pushups; the chest, rotator cuff, triceps, deltoids, rhomboids, back and - often neglected - the core. For the average Soldier, the core muscles will tire and the back and hips will drop, commonly referred to as the “sway” back.
More importantly, in addition to resistance training, pushups also must be performed. Do not do pushups daily because this will be counterproductive. On a technical aspect, the fingertips and thumb should be spread wide apart to produce more surface area, which ultimately will allow for more power and produce more pushups. They must be performed at many different angles and positions to strengthen all of the muscles used during the evolution.
Also, during your workout it is beneficial to do different types of pushups such as wide, close, diamond, plyometric, medicine ball, incline, slow and one of my favorites, the clock pushup.
Clock pushups consist of assuming a shoulder-width hand position, left hand stationary, while the right hand moves clockwise in an arc motion from the one o’clock, two, three, four, five and six o’clock position. At each clock position, perform the prescribed number of pushups, and then move the right hand the next position. Move onto the opposite hand and repeat. This exercise works the entire shoulder, chest and back region.”