The U.S. Army is in the business of preparing our soldiers of military operations to include combat. Transitioning this approach into civilian life with the purpose of maintaining health works just as well. A simple military-style fitness test will assess your muscle endurance, cardio and strength. All it takes are three very basic activities, push-ups, crunches or sit-ups and a one-mile run/walk. Use the results as a benchmark. You need the benchmark in order to establish reasonable, attainable goals to shoot for every four weeks of testing. For your kick-start program, test yourself every four weeks for four months. After that, you can test yourself every three months or twice a year. If you notice you are falling back to your old ways of insufficient exercise, the fitness test will let you know and become a wake-up call to get back on track.

Conduct the Fitness Test Events in This Order
1. Push-ups
2. Crunches or sit-ups
3. One mile run/walk

Push-Ups (Knee or Regular)
The push-up will test the endurance of your chest, shoulders and triceps. Rest is permitted in the up position of the push-up or by raising your rearward anatomy while in the upward push-up position. Only correct push-ups count. You have two minutes to perform as many as you can. You count the completed repetition in the up position.

Crunches or Sit-Ups
Choose regular crunches or sit-ups for this event. The sit-up measures the endurance of your abdominals and hip-flexor muscles. Perform as many as you can within two minutes. You will notice that time is really of the essence when performing this event. Keep the pace up as fast as you reasonably can. Only correct repetitions count. Resting is permitted only in the “up” position for the sit-up. There is no resting position for crunches; continue performing them until the two minutes are up, or stop prior to the two minutes if too fatigued to continue.

One-Mile Run/Walk
The one-mile run/walk is designed to measure your aerobic fitness and leg endurance. If, however, you do not have a measured one-mile distance, pick an approximate distance with clear beginning and ending landmarks, and always use this course for your measurement of progress. Your objective is to complete this event as fast as you reasonably can.

Record Your Scores and Establish Your Four-Week Goals
You may need some help with establishing your goals. If you are out of shape and just starting out, you will find that, with consistency, you will make significant progress with all three events.

How to Establish Fitness Goals
Let us say you completed the one-mile run/walk in 11 minutes. I would expect that with your next test, you would complete the mile run within a range of 9 to 10 minutes, shaving off one to two minutes of your time. You will conduct a test every four weeks for at least four months. As your fitness improves, the goals will probably not be as great a difference, such a shaving off one to two minutes of your time from the mile run.

Your action plan: Take the challenge and measure your fitness level, military-style. Set your goals for the next test and prepare to exceed those scores. Do it for your health.

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The author of this article is Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein, USAR-Ret., boot camp fitness instructor and personal trainer.

Author's Bio: 

Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein, USAR-Ret is a leading authority on military-style physical fitness for civilians. He is nationally known as the Health Colonel and has been featured on the History Channel. He specializes in a military-style workout for all fitness levels on Fort Lauderdale Beach in South Florida. He is the author of Boot Camp Fitness for All Shapes and Sizes, Weight Loss - Twenty Pounds in Ten Weeks - Move It to Lose It, Discover Your Inner Strength (co-author), Change Made Easy and Quotes to Live By.

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