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Military Exercises for Muscle Failure

The military primarily uses body-weight exercises to train soldiers to endure wartime activities. These movements offer the flexibility for soldiers to work out in any location. Pushing yourself to complete muscular failure while performing military exercises creates a variety of benefits that include increases in muscular endurance, strength and size.

Muscular Failure

A person reaches muscular failure when he can no longer complete another repetition using correct form. Training to failure provides a method to increase muscular endurance which is defined as a muscle’s ability to perform repeated contractions against a resistance. Additionally, increases in strength are also experienced by performing exercises to failure.


The pushup exercise mainly involves the pectoral, deltoid and triceps muscles. Perform this movement by lying on the ground with your feet together and hands a shoulder-width distance apart from each other. Push yourself up while keeping your entire body straight and in line with your hips. Once you reach a full extension with your arms, lower yourself to a 90-degree bend with your elbows, and repeat until you reach complete muscular failure. You can gauge your performance by using the Army Basic Training Physical Fitness Test. According to, males ages 17 to 21 should complete a minimum of 35 pushups in a two-minute period and men ages 22 to 26 should complete 31 pushups in two minutes. Females in the 17-to-21 age range, should complete 13 pushups in two minutes with women ages 22 to 26 requiring 11 pushups.


The military utilizes the situp to increase core strength and endurance in its soldiers. To perform the situp, start by lying on your back and crossing your arms over your chest. Keep your knees bent slightly and lift your upper body off the ground while contracting your abdominal muscles throughout the entire movement. Continue raising your upper body until your elbows touch your thighs. Complete each set to complete muscular failure. Use the army basic training physical fitness test to measure your performance. Men and women ages 17 to 21 have a minimum requirement of 47 situps in a two-minute period. All soldiers in the 22 to 26 age bracket have a minimum of 43 situps in the same time frame.


Pullups primarily target your entire upper back, forearms and biceps to execute the exercise. Start this exercise by clutching the pullup bar with your hands at a shoulder-width distance and palms facing away from you. Pull your body up until your chin is completely over the bar. Slowly lower yourself until you reach a full extension with your arms. Repeat until you achieve complete muscular failure. The United States Marine Corps physical fitness test minimum pullup requirement consists of three repetitions for all ages of men only. Females utilize the flexed arm hang which is a timed isometric exercise.

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About the Author

Craig Smith covers weight loss and exercise programming for various online publications. He has been a personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise since 2001. Smith also holds a diploma in exercise physiology and kinesiology from the National Personal Training Institute.

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