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Is Your Run Always Worse After Pushups, Pullups, Situps Events of the PT Tests? Learn How to Transition!

Stew Smith

Is Your Run Always Worse After
Pushups, Pullups, Situps Events of the PT Tests? Learn How to Transition!

This is such a common event that occurs during PT Tests - especially if running is after other strength / muscle stamina events. How many have you had a poor running event after pushing yourself on the calisthenics portions of the test.  This will also apply to the new Army Combat Fitness Test after the new strength events of the ACFT, the 2 mile run at the end will require the same strategy. 

Learn HOW to Take Tests Better

As with any test, you have to learn how to take tests to score better. There are entire courses and curricula devoted to helping students pass the SAT, ACT and even the ASVAB. The courses and training programs are not so much devoted to teaching subjects, but showing students HOW to score higher on the tests using strategy and techniques. 

You Need a Strategy

The Physical Fitness Test in any branch of service is the same. You need a strategy. For most PFTs, you have to do a series of upper body exercises first (usually pushups, situps, or pullups) then run for 1.5, 2, or 3 miles depending on the service branch.

After you perform maximum repetition sets with your upper body muscles, your heart has forced blood to the arms, shoulders, and torso leaving you very “pumped up”. Running like this can be difficult because the heart has to now pump the blood from your arms and torso down to your legs and, of course, oxygenate the blood repetitively. This can throw off your rhythm, heart rate, breathing, arm swing, and pace that you are used to performing - at least for the first half mile. 

Have you ever started a run after the PT exercises and noticed your breathing is more rapid, your heartbeat is therefore more rapid, your arms swing is more stiff than fluid and relaxed, and your legs are burning for oxygenated blood. 

Have you ever said this?  “I felt OK after the first two laps, but the first half mile about killed me.”

Here is the answer to the problem:

After you perform the PT test portion and are now preparing to start the run, use the time wisely during transition to get the blood back to the legs by simply doing a short jog for 3-4 minutes.  Shake out the upper body and stretch the arms, chest, shoulders, stomach and lower back. Finally, take about 3-5 minutes to stretch your legs. Keep shaking the arms, throughout the time in between the PT and run, to loosen up.

This will help you feel better at the start of your timed run and you will avoid feelings of breathlessness at your target pace. Learn more about running at your goal pace and your training until this point should be focused on your goal pace for the distance of your PT Test. 

This is very common. 

First of all, you have to train the way you test:  If your PFT requires you to perform weights or PT exercises first, then your workouts should mimic the order of the test as best you can. Then run if that is required as the last event - which most tests are organized that way.

For example, for your test, you should do your PT, weight training first, then, follow it with the running portion of your workout.   By arranging the workouts this way you will get the body used to running when the upper body is pumped up with blood.  In a nutshell, if you can loosen up your upper body by stretching the arms, chest, shoulders, and back muscles prior to running, that will help with your more natural running state.  Also loosen up your legs by doing a short run so you get the blood from your upper body down to your legs. This transition takes about 4-5 minutes and usually you get about 10 minutes to prepare for the last event of the PFT.

Other Test Taking Success Tips to Learn

Stay hydrated, fueled, and cool:  If you can keep your body heat down, your performance will improve. Be well-hydrated days prior to the event and sip water or a sports drink during the test in order to stay cool. The sports drink or fruit will help you keep blood sugar levels high during the test. By doing this you will have energy to push yourself on the last event of the PFT.  In between all events, hold onto cold water bottles (even ice filled) to keep the colder blood circulating to your core.  You will be amazed at how well this works. 

Learn How to Pace Yourself:  The pacing exercises in this test are the sit-ups and the running portion.  These require a steady pace and not a fast starting pace.  Many times in sit-ups, people score 30 sit-ups in 30 seconds, but cannot get another 30 in the next 1:30 in a 2 minute test.  By simply dropping your initial pace to 20 in 30 seconds, you can easier score 80 sit-ups in 2 minutes without a single workout.  Same for the running.  You never sprint the first quarter mile of a 1.5 mile run.  Find your goal pace and stick to it by training at that pace at every distance you run.  For example, if your goal is to run a 10:30 1.5 mile run then you have to run a quarter mile in 1:45, a half mile in 3:30, and a mile in 7 minutes.  Learn the pace by practice!

See Faster Run / Swim Times for the PST / PAST tests

PT Tips:  Exert on the UP:  When doing any of the PT exercises, you have one advantage to half the exercise - gravity.  Gravity will take you down faster with no effort, so do not waste energy by slowly lowering yourself to the bottom of the exercise.  If doing sit-ups, let gravity take your back to the floor by relaxing the abdominal muscles. If doing knee ups (leg tucks), let gravity take your legs back to the hanging position. If doing pushups, relax the chest and triceps and fall to the counter.  Same goes for pull-ups, but you must semi-control your decent here as it can produce swinging which will throw you off your best scores.

The things to remember is going into the PFT well prepared.  Make sure you are hydrated and stay hydrated / fueled, stay cool, and stretch well before running (both upper and lower body).  Do not forget to learn your pace and pace yourself during the test. And organize your workouts to run last if your test requires it. 

The workouts in the articles and programs on the website (store and article archive) will help you lose weight, get faster, and score higher on any fitness test. By combining all forms of exercise to practice your PFT strategy: strength building, cardio vascular activity, and flexibility as well as food intake prior to the PFT, you will be better prepared for the testing EVENT.

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