Monday, October 17, 2011

Military Monday: How can I help my Soldier Pass the PT?

Of all the military spouse sites I have stalked, this is the one question that no one asks.  Instead a lot of wives feel that it's their husband's "thing" and they just stay out of it.  The results of this attitude can be devastating, especially if military life is all that you know or want.  So I see or hear LOTS of complaining about husbands not passing the PT tests (Physical Training Test, aka APT) or constantly getting injured.  I have heard MANY spouses talking about divorce because their husband won't or can't pass a PT.

There is a false attitude out there that husband's need to do their own thing and wives do theirs.  When it comes to the military, that is simply not true.  The military life takes the both of you for it to work.  I am my husband's biggest support!  He can't do as well without me cheering him on, taking the journey WITH him.

I am going to honest with you, as far as the Army and Air Force go (I don't know about the other branches), there are some serious cut backs being made.  And it's going on RIGHT NOW.  With troops being pulled out over seas and the national dept going crazy, lots of soldiers and their families are getting the boot.  There are several deciding factors in who goes, but for the Army these are the main two:

1.  Can't pass the PT test.
2.  Haven't been promoted in a while.

Now, I think this is the best advice I can give anyone who is getting ready to join, already joined and is waiting for training, or even seasoned soldiers who are a little worried about their place in the military in the future.  Don't just ride the rope when it comes to being in shape.  Don't settle for just barely passing the PT or not at all.  Get as far away from that line as you can!  And wives, YOU can help!  You want your soldiers to be in the best shape of their lives!  Not only will being in shape help them keep their PT scores up, being in top notch condition can ultimately save their lives and the lives of others.  Being in the military isn't a game, it's life and death out there in the field, and I think it is a responsibility of the wives to help keep their soldiers safe in the ways we can.

Here's some of my ideas on how to accomplish this, hopefully some of the other wives out there have some too!

For those of you who are getting ready to send their soldier to Basic:

One of the goals of basic training is getting the soldiers to pass the PT test at the END of the 10 weeks.  However, you can get your soldier WAY ahead if he can pass a mock PT test BEFORE he leaves.  A lot of wives tell their husbands to just go workout... this is ineffective.  They need to go out with a plan, and you wives are the best tools to come up with workout plans.  There are LOTS of workout plans out there to help your soldier get ready, just google it!  And one of the best ways to help him, is to get out there and do it with them!

For those of you whose soldier just got back from training:

Lots of guys coming home think that now they can take it easy... WRONGO BONGO!  If they want a career in the military or even just do it part-time, it is VITAL that they keep up their training.

Ben doing sit-ups in the snow for Ranger Challenge
Here's a little story for you.  When Ben came home from his 9 months of training, he was in the best shape of his life.  He joined the ROTC and decided that he wanted to do the Ranger Challenge.  It's a competition that the cadets do and compete with other schools all over the US.  It's the best of the best cadets that compete, and Ben REALLY wanted to do it.  The training was intense to say the least, and because of Ben's school schedule and the time the Ranger Challenge wanted of him, he didn't make the team.  He was really sad about it, but he was only borderline good.  Even though he had just finished his training and was in pretty good shape for himself, he wasn't as good as most of the guys that made the team.

Ben doing push ups for the Ranger Challenge PT test
This year, Ben REALLY wanted to do it again.  He worked hard all year and felt he was in pretty good shape to do it.  But I had other plans... I wanted to do P90X.  At first when I mentioned it, he got really mad and told me to back off in a really rude way.  Totally hurt my feelings!  But then he started talking to some of the other guys that were the top of the cadet totem when it came to the PT test and they told him they did P90X.  So in July, Ben finally gave in and we got it.  For two months Ben and I worked HARD on the X and we really pushed ourselves.  I did it with him to show my support, and I really wanted to do it anyway.  When school started, Ben showed up to the morning workout with the ROTC and could NOT BELIEVE how strong and fit P90X had made him!!  Not only did he mop the floor with most of the guys, he moved up from being mediocre to one of the top guys!  He made Ranger Challenge without even really trying, and had a great time competing!

Moral of the story:  Work hard and you will be amazed at what you can do!!

For those of you who have a soldier having a hard time passing his PT:

Since Ben has been helping guys pass or improve their PT tests for a while now, I asked him what his best advice would be.  He told me the key to upping and passing the PT is going for Rucksack Runs.  Rucksack runs, with the right weight are complete body work outs that will up your push-ups, sit-ups, and 2 mile run like nothing else.  He said you should start out weighing you ruck down with weight:  20 pounds of weight for every 100 pounds that you weigh.  So if you are a 200 pound guy, pack it with 40.  If you are a slimmer guy at say 150, your ruck should start at 30 or so.  Then you can up it as you go along.  Ben said his PT score shot up 10 points after training with a 40 pound ruck for 2 weeks.

For those of you who have a soldier that is accident prone:

When Ben was in Basic, he fractured his hip.  This kind of screwed up everything, including his back.  So he went to a chiropractor who worked wonders.  But the problem was the chiropractor could only do so much and then Ben was on his own.  Soon his back started bugging him again, that's when we did P90X and it actually FIXED him back up!  The key was:

1. Weight lifting.  Strengthening those muscles will help your body like nothing else!
2. Extensive Stretching:  Flexibility is the key to keeping yourself safe.  Those who are flexible are a LOT less likely to get hurt, ever.
3.  Yoga:  Ben and I were super skeptical about this at first, but it works wonder with flexibility and balance.  It's fantastic for your body and mind.  There are things we can do that we couldn't before because of Yoga.

In conclusion, being physically fit is no joke in the military.  Your soldier's life and others may depend on it!  Those that are fit are more likely to survive bombings, freak accidents, shootings, explosions, and many other things that happen in war.  Take it seriously, and help your soldier to as well.  There are many that don't, and it's what's holding them back and may well be the end of their career.  So get pumped up and help them out, they NEED you!!


Okay, friends now it is your turn!  If you want to participate, take this button and post it in your post today:

THEN write a post on this topic:
What you do to help your husband stay fit, and your best advice for others.

THEN come back here and leave us a link so we can come check it out!!

Note:  Since this is posted so late in the day, don't feel bad about doing a Military Monday on Tuesday:)

If you have no idea what "Military Monday" is click here!


Chelsea said...

Ah, the wonderful PT test. So cool that your husband did the Ranger challenge.

You can check out my post here:

Nina said...

My favorite topic, and first Military Monday posting! :) With some consistency the PT test is not that big of a challenge, which probably explains why I have a hard time to understand why people start slacking and have difficulties to pass it ...... injuries are of course another story.

However, my posting is online at

Greetings from Alaska!

Mama Nut said...

Nina, I totally agree with you! Ben has never had a hard time, but there are so many out there who do!! I think this is a great topic for people like us to cover so we can give our tips and help out those out there that need it! Popping over right now to read your post!

Allison said...

Great topic! It was good for me to think about how to support my husband in this aspect of his career. He never has a problem passing his pt test so it never crosses my mind that he needs my support.

Check out my post at

Ana said...

I agree with you here to a point, but I've found that, for the most part, I have to keep my mouth shut about this one. My husband has always managed to pass it, but he's had to be taped more than once. It can be harder than you might think to find time to work out when on active duty. When he's deployed on a submarine, there is one treadmill and limited space to do anything else. They are also working so insanely hard that almost no one has time for that. Add in the rather crappy food (he has developed the habit of putting hot sauce on EVERYTHING now because of it), and he always, always gains weight at sea. The best I can really do is keep working out myself and keep the food at home healthy when he's here. He's not too big on fitness reminders. Sometimes, you gotta leave it alone. He's yet to fail a PRT, so I'm okay with this.

Mama Nut said...

Great point, Ana! I hadn't given any thought to how the Navy would stay in shape being on the sea most of the time.

And why fix what isn't broken? If your husband is passing, then that's what really matters.

Mainly, I wrote this for the many wives out there who are afraid for their husband's jobs because they aren't passing the PT. Army and Air Force aren't putting up with it anymore and LOTS of guys are getting kicked out.