Show that you are fit to serve by acing your PRT.

What Are Some Easy Ways to Get in Shape for the Navy?

by Kenneth Hutto

If you are considering joining the Navy, one of your main goals should be to excel at the Navy Physical Readiness Test. Navy service members go through PRT twice every year to ensure all service members are in good physical shape. Getting in shape for the Navy can seem intimidating, but proper preparation can make your fitness training much easier.


The PRT is one part of the Navy Physical Fitness Assessment -- the second part is a body composition test to ensure sailors have a healthy amount of fat and lean mass. Your first PRT will be administered while you are in boot camp or officer training and will consist of pushups, curlups, and a timed 1.5 mile run. Your commanding officer has the ability to administer a 500-yard swim or 12-minute cardiovascular test on a stationary bike or elliptical in lieu of the run; however the 1.5 mile run is standard.


Pushups are a convenient training tool because you can practice them anywhere. Your hands should be placed just outside your shoulders. Keep your abs braced and lower your body -- your elbows need to be bent at least 90 degrees for the pushup to count. Your elbows should not flair out to the sides because it can injure your shoulders; keep them 30 to 45 degrees from your body. Challenge yourself by having a friend place a weight on your back while you practice pushups.


The curlup portion of the PRT is timed, so it is very easy to rush and become too tired to complete the two-minute test. Cross your arms over your chest, touch your elbows to your knees in the “up” position and touch your shoulder blades to the ground in the “down” position. Train by practicing planks before moving onto curlups. Lie face down and lift your body into the air. Keep your back straight and balance on your elbows and toes. Harvard Medical School recommends planks because it efficiently works more muscles than curlups. Planks will build a platform of strength, making curlups easier.


The most important factor of the 1.5-mile run in your PFT is pacing. Taking off too fast will ruin your chances of scoring high because you will not be able to keep up a fast pace for the entire run. A good way to train is by alternating 100-meter sprints with 100-meter slow jogs. This will start building your endurance while keeping your workouts relatively short. If you live in an area where it is too cold to run outside, run on a treadmill indoors. Keep the treadmill at an incline of at least 2 percent -- some Navy tests are completed on treadmills set at 1 percent.


Navy tests are graded with points that fall into six categories: failure, satisfactory, good, excellent, outstanding and maximum. For a male recruit 17 to 19 years old, 90 curlups in two minutes, 76 pushups in two minutes and a 10 minute, 40 second 1.5-mile run would earn a grade of excellent. A 17- to 19-year-old female recruit would need to complete 73 curl-ups, 52 pushups and a 13 minute, 15 second 1.5-mile run to earn an excellent rating. Every older age bracket has slightly lower repetitions for pushups and curls up and longer times for the 1.5-mile run.


The Navy recommends that the first four weeks of your training should consist of 15 to 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio three to four times a week. After four weeks, increase your training to four to five times a week and bump the duration of your workout to 30 to 40 minutes per session. Steadily increase the intensity, pushing yourself very slightly every workout, but not to the point where you will injure yourself. All strength exercises should be performed at least twice a week. The Navy recommends 24 weeks of preparation if you are starting out with a very low fitness level. Using Navy PRT standards as your guide, feel free to enter boot camp whenever you feel that you can excel.

About the Author

Kenneth Hutto is a personal trainer based in Portland, Maine. With extensive experience in corrective exercise, he worked with physical therapists to develop progressive exercise programs for a wide variety of patients.

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