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Prepare for the Service Academy CFA

stew smith

Prepare for the Service Academy CFA

Every week, there are several young people seeking advice about how to prepare for the country’s Service Academies fitness assessments. The CFA – or Candidate Fitness Assessment is a test that not only evaluates strength and endurance, but a measures potential for athleticism. The history behind the CFA is decades old, it but used to be called the PAE – which stands for Physical Aptitude Exam. The major difference between this fitness test and other PRTs in the military is the use of the shuttle run and the kneeling basketball throw. This article will assist Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and Military Academy candidates with this universal fitness exam.

FREE - Check out the new CFA Calculator to see if you are scoring in the competitive range! 

Do you want to get selected into military officer programs like the United States Service Academies and serve your country as a military officer? 

Have you experienced failure to receive the results you need to be competitive?

Failing to train specifically for this test can make you apprehensive about even applying, but what if I told you all it takes is a few months of training and you can be competitive which can be helpful in getting accepted into a Service Academy?

The good news is, you're not alone!  In fact, did you know there have been a few changes in military fitness testing and it has been confusing to many recruits and officer candidates alike?

It's true. And to be honest, what's holding you back is making time to train to see the results you need. One day your life, your buddy's life, or someone needing your help to save their life will depend on your fitness level. Training physically is THAT important. You have to make time to do it right as your time is precious these days with your busy schedule. 

So, the real issue here is not knowing how to train properly for military fitness tests.  How could you? You are focused on your high school athletics right now.  Military training is not the same. There is a difference between an athlete and a tactical athlete. This is nothing to do with your will power, your intelligence, or your lack of ability.

And the even better news is that the Military Officer Fitness - Candidate Fitness Assessment Workout is proven to help you succeed in not only the testing preparation, but also for the PFT and Plebe Summer training as well during your first few months of becoming a cadet or midshipman.

And with this new process, it's easy to get better results. If you're a service academy candidate who needs to pass a PT test and who wants to serve your country as a military officer, check out this the Service Academy Workout – Military Officer Fitness Candidate Fitness Assessment Workout book or ebook as it is updated with the latest PT test changes. 

Claim your copy right now!

The CFA get you TO the Academy...The PFT or CFT gets you THROUGH the Academy's Physical Mission. You still have military training and academics to deal with each year. 

BUT depending on what service academy you get accepted to, you will then have to start your preparation for the fitness test done every semester at the Academy.  The Naval Academy and Military Academy have both changed their fitness tests done during the school year.  For instance:

As a Midshipmen, you will take the Naval Academy Physical Fitness Assessment.  It once consisted of pushups 2 min, crunches 2 min, and 1.5 mile timed run.  Now, the new fitness test in 2020 is cadence pushups 2 min (max is 60 reps on a 2 second per up/down cadence), plank pose 2-4 minutes, and 1.5 mile run.

West Point Physical Fitness Test used to be pushups 2 min, situps 2 min, and 2 mile timed run.  Now, Army Combat Fitness Test is replacing the Army Physical Fitness Test with the following events:

Army Combat Fitness Test (2020)

Trap Bar Dead Lift

Hand Release “T” Pushups

Leg Tuck

Standing Power Throw

250-meter Sprint/Drag/Carry

2 mile timed run

The Service Academy Candidate Fitness Assessment HAS NOT CHANGED

If you've ever wondered "Can getting better at the CFA help my application?" The answer is yes. The Service Academy Workout – Military Officer Fitness Candidate Fitness Assessment Workout book or ebook created by Naval Academy Graduate Stew Smith - Former Navy SEAL - has the answers every service academy candidate needs to know about training as well as harder programs for Special Ops candidates and Marines.  Click Here Now for more:

This fitness test is a 40 minute exam that requires the candidates to perform a list of exercises in order and in accordance to strict time regulations. In summary, the test is the following chart:

Kneeling Basketball Throw

Cadence Pull-Ups

120 ft. Shuttle Run

Crunches 2:00

Push-Ups 2:00

1-Mile Run

Here are some helpful tips to assist with performing to your best on the CFA:

Basketball throw – Practice throwing the ball from your knees at a 45 degree angle using your entire torso and arm. By using a twisting motion of your torso you will be able to generate more throwing power than if you just threw with your arm.

Exercises to assist with this test:

Lightweight Shoulder workout


Abdominal exercises

Lower back exercises

Pull-ups – The best way to get better at pull-ups or flexed arm hang is to PRACTICE PULLUPS / FAH. However, the following exercises will assist:


Negative Pull-ups


Assisted Pull-ups

Bicep curls

120 ft Shuttle run – The shuttle run is a full out sprint that requires you to stop and change direction as fast as you can. To get better at this agility drill, practice the shuttle run turn-around as well as the following exercises for speed and strength:

Run and Leg PT



Leg exercises on weight machines


Pushups – The pushup is a military standard. You should be able to do pushups continuously without much effort. The best way to be able to increase this upper body exercise is to do pushups 3-4 times a week. I do have a quick way to add significant numbers in a short period of time – see the article:

Exercises to assist with pushups are the following:

Pushups - See Pushups Protocol article

Bench press – high reps – light weight

Light weight shoulder workout

Triceps extensions

Dips or bench dips

Crunches in 2:00 – When you have to do 2:00 worth of crunches, you will want to pace yourself and break up the 2:00 time into 4 x 30 seconds quarters. Find your goal and pace it out every 30 seconds. For example, if your goal is to do 80 crunches in 2:00, then at every 30 seconds mark you want to be at 20 crunches.

Compare the crunches to the run. If you sprint too fast in the mile run on the first 400m, you will have a tough time maintaining your pace. The same goes for crunches in 2:00 period.

Sit-ups, curl-ups or crunch tests - learn to pace yourself. 

1 mile timed run – Learn your mile pace by practicing mile runs as fast as you can for testing purposes as well as at a maintainable pace for long runs. For example, running a mile in 6:00 is not that tough to do, but maintaining that 6:00 pace for 3-4 miles is very tough. You should have two speeds. One for the mile sprint test in the CFA and one for distance runs of 3-5 miles. Find your pace and push yourself with sprints and interval training drills as in this workout plan.

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