Army Pushup Routine

Man doing pushups

In the military, pushups are a fact of life. Since it requires no equipment and can be done almost anywhere, the pushup is a widely used exercise to improve upper body strength. The U.S. Army and other branches of the military also use it as a strength test. If soldiers want to progress through the ranks, they have to be competent at pushups and other physical feats.

Army Pushup Test

To do well on a strength test, a soldier has to complete many repetitions of a pushup, using correct form. Your feet must be no more than 12 inches apart and your body makes a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. At the command “Go,” the test starts. You must bend your elbows, keeping your body straight, as your upper arms come at least parallel to the ground. Then you push back up. Only your good pushups count. If you let your body sag or fail to come down far enough, that pushup will be disqualified. You have two minutes to complete as many pushups as possible.

Passing Scores

How many pushups you need to do depends on your age and gender. An 18-year-old man would need to do 42 pushups to pass the test, while a woman of the same age would have to complete 19 pushups. A 40-year-old male soldier would be required to do 34 pushups. A 40-year-old female soldier would have to do 13 to pass.

Pushup Training

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If you’re a soldier who wants to pass the army pushup test, or a civilian who wants to look like you could, implement a routine to increase your pushup prowess. Practice your pushups at least three days a week. According to ex-Navy SEAL Stew Smith, you can even do pushups every day, just like in boot camp. Instead of doing as many as you possibly can in a row, break them into sets of 10 or 20, depending on your ability. Increase the number of repetitions and decrease your rest time as your proficiency increases. You can also ramp up your pushups by elevating your feet. This angle will increase resistance, making you fight harder against gravity. You can use a step, chair or stability ball to prop up your feet.

Stew Smith’s Training Plan

Serious pushup enthusiasts can follow Stew Smith’s training plan. He recommends following this routine only once every six months, as it’s a lot of repetition for the chest, shoulders and triceps. If you currently can do fewer than 50 pushups, Smith recommends doing 200 over the course of each training day. If you can do 75, go for a total of 300. On odd-numbered days, do your 200 or 300 pushups in the fewest sets possible. This is in addition to your usual cardio and strength training. On even days, do your total number of pushups in smaller sets spread throughout the day. After you’ve done this for 10 days in a row, rest your upper body for three days. On day 14, self-administer the pushup test and see how you do.