Fitness test designed for Military/LE Operators. There are five parts plus a warm up. The test is designed to be completed in one hour:


Warm up: 4 Rounds
10x Goblet Squat @ 12kg
8x Push Ups
10x Sit ups


(1) Max Reps Bench Press @ 185#

Protocol: Do one warm up set of 10 reps @ 135#. Then do a second warm up set of 5 reps @ 165#. Then load up 185# and do as many reps as possible. You can "rest" holding the barbell up, off your chest in the elbows locked out position as you fight for more reps. For example, I sprinted through the first 5 reps, then started doing singles with a pause at the top to rest and psych up for the next rep.

The barbell must touch the athlete’s chest for each rep, and finish with the elbows locked out. Feet must remain on the floor, and the athlete’s butt cannot lose contact with the bench – no excessive arching!

(2) Max Reps Front Squat @ 185#

Protocol: Do one warm up set of 10 reps @ 135#. Then do a second warm up set of 5 reps @ 165#. Then load up 185# and do as many reps as possible. You can "rest" in the standing position, holding the barbell on your chest in the "rack" position. I sprinted through the first 7 reps, then started doing singles with a pause at the top to rest and psych up for the next rep.

The athlete must lower the barbell until his thighs are at parallel or below. If you have a dynamax medicine ball, place it below the athlete, and have him touch the ball with is butt for the "bottom" position. The top of the range of motion is standing with the hips locked out at full extension.

The athlete may hold the barbell on his chest which his hands and arms in the "clean" position, or crossed in the "body building" front squat position. Clean position is preferred, but not required.

(3) Max Reps Dead Stop Dead Lift @ 225# in 60 seconds

Protocol: Do one warm up set of 10 reps @ 135#. Then do a second warm up set of 5 reps @ 185#. Then load up 225# and do as many reps as possible in 60 seconds. NOTE THAT THESE ARE DEAD STOP DEAD LIFTS – NO BOUNCING! The barbell must stop completely on the floor after each rep. Watch the clock, and when the second hand hits 60 seconds, stop.

Range of motion starts with the barbell resting on the floor and ends at the top of the lift with the hips fully extended. The athlete may rest by setting the barbell on the floor and standing up without it.

Safety – Each athlete is responsible for his safety and proper lifting technique. If you feel your lower back beginning to "break" it set, I strongly advise you set the barbell down and rest before attempting another rep. However, a full range of motion determines whether or not a rep counts. "Ugly" dead lifts count, but expect to have a very sore lower back the next day.

(4) 4 Rounds for total Reps
60 second 25m sprint
60 second rest

Protocol: Each full length counts as 1 rep. Each full round trip counts as 2 reps. No partials! The athlete has to sprint a full length to get the point for the rep. On each of my 4 rounds, I ran out of time just a step or two from finishing the last rep – they didn’t count.

(5) Max Strict Pull Ups

Protocol: These are dead hang and strict, chin above bar pull ups. No kipping, no chicken necking, no bullshit. The athlete can "rest" while hanging on the bar with both hands in the bottom position. There is no set warm up for this test. The athlete may do a couple warm up pull ups if he likes. I didn’t.

(6) 80# Sandbag Get up, max reps in 10 minutes

Protocol: Start standing with the sandbag on one shoulder. Lay all the way down, then "get up" any way you want. The "finish" position is full sanding position, knees and hips at full extension, feet shoulder width apart. The athlete may or may not switch shoulders with the sandbag as he wishes. I switched shoulders every 5 reps to help me keep count. Do as many reps as you can in 10 minutes.

Test Notes and Explanation:

Reps vs. Max Effort Strength – An issue I struggled with in designing this test was how to test strength. The obvious way was to do a 1 rep max strength test. Issues arise with this – safety for one. Also, standardizing how to score the result is difficult. I’ve been intrigued by the 225# for reps bench press test the NFL uses at its combine for the draft, but knew that 225# for reps was too heavy for military athletes. Thus – I chose 185# for loading. A military athlete should be able to bench press 185# for reps.

Why bench press and front squat? – One of the most interesting things about strength is when an athlete is balanced, his front squat and bench press 1 rep max will be very close together. The same is true for max reps, like this test. With the front squat test, I’m not only testing leg strength, but also strength balance between upper and lower body. I got 10 reps for both the bench and front squat.

Dead Lifts – The dead lift is a great test of overall, full body strength. I chose not to test a 1 rep max because of time constraints. I found 60 seconds to be about right for time.

Sprints – The 60/60 25m sprint for reps tests anaerobic endurance and the athlete’s ability to recover metabolically. I chose sprints as the "mode" to test anaerobic endurance and recovery over other means because I feel sprinting is a key fitness attribute for military athletes. Plus, no special equipment is needed for this test.

Pull ups – This is one carryover from typical military fitness tests. Pulling power is another needed attribute for military athletes. We don’t do kipping pull ups in my gym or programming. I much prefer strict pull ups.

Sandbag get up: This is a great, functional exercise for building and testing core strength. Doing the sandbag getup for reps over a relatively long interval, 10 minutes, also test the athlete’s work capacity. The sandbag getup is a full body exercise, which when done in high reps for time, will make you breath like a mother.

Rest between sets and exercises – Work through the test briskly enough so you can complete it in 60 minutes. For the bench press, front squat, and dead lift, there is no set rest period between sets. Rather, perform the test with a partner, or pretend that you are. By the time each guy does the set, plus weight changes, you’ll be getting enough rest for these tests. Also, use the same barbell for each lift. The time it takes to unload the plates, re-set the racks for the front squat, and or, take off the barbell for the dead lift, etc, will give you the right amount of rest before starting the next exercise.

After the dead lifts, the athlete can take time to get a drink and catch his or her breath before starting the sprints. After the sprints, rest 3-5 minutes before doing the pull ups. You can take another couple of minutes between the pull ups and the sand bag get ups.

TALL/SKINNY/LEAN GUYS – You know who you are….. I want you to be safe and not go below parallel on the front sqats. Also, raise the barbell off the floor 4" or so for the dead lifts. If you have access to bumper plates, setting the barbell up on a pair of thick, 45# bumper plates would be perfect. Do everything else as prescribed. Sorry about the bench press. I know you’ll suffer these with your long-ass arms! But I also know you crush meatballs like me in the sprints.


Bench Press reps x1
Front Squat reps x1
Dead Lift reps x1
Sprints x1
Strict Pull ups x1
SBGU /2.

Here’s how I scored when I took the test in June, 2009:

Bench Press – 10 reps = 10 points
Front Squat – 10 reps = 10 points
Dead Lift – 18 reps = 18 points
Sprints – 36 total = 36 points
Pull ups – 18 reps = 18 points
SBGU – 52 reps/2 = 26 points

TOTAL: 10+10+18+36+18+21 = 118 points