World War II Fitness Test

The fitness test was created by the American College of Rheumatology as a way to determine an individual’s levels of arthritis, pain and other conditions. It has been used in over 46 countries with more than 2 million tests taken worldwide.

The “wwii fitness test score sheet” is a document that will help you to calculate your fitness level based on the results of what was called the “World War II Fitness Test.”

WWII soldiers doing military training on monkey bars.

Have guys become “soft” in recent years? Is our generation any less macho than previous ones? Are we weaker than our forefathers?

I often see males debating such topics. Of fact, “toughness” is difficult to define. However, there is one area where we can certainly state that we have slipped: the Army fitness exam is no longer as difficult as it once was.

In 1942, the Army for the first time administered a formal fitness test to the soldiers. During World War II, millions of men were called up to fight, but not all of them were prepared for the hardships of war. The Army established a systematic physical development program as part of the Combat Basic Training course to prepare the troops in combat form. And the Army Ground Forces Test was created to see whether the program was working as intended. Squat jumps, sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, and a 300-yard run were all part of the exam. Functional fitness was emphasized, with the goal of providing American soldiers with the power, mobility, and endurance they’d need to undertake real-world activities on the battlefield.

The Army’s physical training handbook, FM 21-20, published in 1946, standardized the training regimen and fitness test devised during the war.

The military’s focus on physical fitness rose and faded in the decades following WWII, depending on whether the nation was engaged in a battle.

The Army Physical Readiness Test was first launched in 1984 and is still in use today. There are just three components to this workout: sit-ups, push-ups, and a 2-mile run. General Schwarzkopf grew worried in 1987 that only 5% of troops were able to get the maximum score on the exam, so the criteria were lowered and greater allowances for age and sex were introduced.

Furthermore, although before, troops who failed the exam were fired, this restriction has been significantly loosened.

Many opponents have said for decades that the physical fitness criteria for troops are too lax, and, more crucially, that they fail to evaluate the kind of talents soldiers need in today’s battles. Men are humping enormous burdens for lengthy periods of time at a time when new equipment like body armor is available, and they are far more likely to sprint and crouch than run for miles at a time.

Dr. Edward Thomas, a teacher at the Army Physical Fitness School, was astonished by the results when he rediscovered the WWII fitness test and applied it to troops in the 1990s. While the current test includes a larger number of needed repetitions for items like push-ups than the WWII version, the accuracy with which the repetitions must be done has been eased. As a result, when Thomas put current troops through their paces, they could only complete a fraction of the repetitions necessary by WWII soldiers.

The Army has changed its physical training program in recent years to focus more on functional fitness, and is now designing a new test to better relate fitness to combat readiness, which will be used in the future.


The Army has changed its physical training program in recent years to focus more on functional fitness, and is now designing a new test to better relate fitness to combat readiness, which will be used in the future.

Apart from all that fascinating history, I thought AoM readers, both citizens and military, might appreciate completing the WWII fitness test to see how they compared to their grandfathers. Why are you taking the test? As stated in the introduction of the original test:

The guys are motivated to enhance their physical condition as a result of the tests. Often, guys are unaware of how bad their situation is. When their weaknesses are revealed by the exams, they are far more amenable to an intense physical training program to correct them.

So maybe taking the exam would motivate you to become in better condition (or inspire you to feel awesome about how in shape you already are).

If you’re a coach, having your men take the exam may be fun–it sounds like a fantastic team-building activity for your own small band of brothers.

Let’s go through a few recommendations before we start the test:

  • As previously said, the WWII exam requires meticulous execution of the exercises. Don’t trade quality for quantity if you want an accurate appraisal of your performance!
  • The chart below shows two sets of testing, one for outdoor use and the other for interior use. Choose one or the other, but not both. The fifth exam in the indoor battery has two options for you to pick from: one or the other.

The Fitness Test for WWII

1. Push-ups 1. Push-ups
Squat Jumps are a great way to get your heart rate up. Squat Jumps are a great way to get your heart rate up.
Pushups are number three. Pushups are number three.
4. Situations 4. Situations
5. 300-yard dash 5A. Shuttle Run Indoors
  60-Second Squat Thrusts (A1)


A horizontal bar is required for this event. This may be created out of a pipe, a gymnasium horizontal bar, or any other rigid horizontal support with a diameter of less than 112 inches. The bar should be high enough for the performer to hang fully extended from the bar without hitting the ground. It is advised that you be between 7 feet 9 inches and 8 feet tall.

Position to begin. Hanging from the bar at full length with arms straight. With the hands turned away from the face, the forward hold is utilized.

How to perform pull ups illustration military manual.Movement. Pull yourself up till your chin is above the bar. Then lower your body to the point where your elbows are totally straight. Carry on for as many repetitions as you can.

Instructions. When lifting up, the males should be taught that they may raise their legs and bend their hips but not kick or do a jerking action with their trunk or legs. Swinging of the body must be avoided. Above the bar, the chin must be elevated. At the bottom of the action, the arms must be absolutely straight.

Scoring and administration. One pullup is awarded to the performer each time he pushes his chin over the bar in proper form. If he fails to elevate his chin above the level of the bar or pauses to rest, he is not awarded a pullup. Only half a pullup will be tallied if the performer does not straighten his arms at the bottom of a movement, if he kicks or jerks. If the performer completes four half-pullups, they should be halted and retested. If the performer begins to swing, the judge should use his hands to halt him. To keep the hands from sliding, something like a resin bag or a cake of magnesium carbonate should be accessible.



Position to begin. Squatting on right heel, palms down, fingers clasped on top of head. The feet are 4 to 6 inches apart, with the left foot’s heel aligned with the right foot’s toes.

Movement. Ascend until your knees are straight and your feet are clear of the ground. Just enough to allow the knees to straighten without contacting the ground. To achieve this goal, don’t leap any higher than is absolutely required. Maintain a straight upper body. Reverse the position of the feet when off the ground, bringing the right foot in front. Then lower yourself to a squat on your left heel. Knees should be pointed forward. Return to the starting position and repeat as many times as feasible.

How to do squat jumps illustration military manual.Instructions. The most prevalent faults among males include spreading their feet too widely apart, forward and backward, and failing to kneel down on the back heel. The proper posture should be properly shown, and the men should be given the opportunity to practice it. The activity must be carried out in a continual manner. Before starting the event, the men should be taught that it demands nearly as much bravery as it does strength and endurance, and that they should not stop until they are unable to move again.

Scoring and administration. Each time the performer jumps up from the squat to the upright posture and returns, he is given one squat jump. If he does not fall to a full squat, if he does not completely straighten his legs and reverse his feet while in the air, if he takes his hand from his head, or if he stops the action, the movement is not scored. He will not be punished if he loses his balance and takes a hand from his head for a little while, or if he falls but recovers quickly and continues. There is no penalty if the performer’s feet are too far apart but he comes to a squat on the back foot. Some guys are unable to squat completely on their heels. They should not be punished if they go as far as they can.


Position to begin. With the body straight from head to heels, the performer takes the front leaning rest posture. His elbows are straight and his hands are squarely under his shoulders. The fingers were pointing forward. The judge sits alongside the performance on the ground, one hand resting on the ground under the performer’s lower chest.

Movement. Lower your body till your chest reaches the ground (in informal practice) or the judge’s palm (in formal testing). Elbows must be pointing backwards. Straighten your elbows to return to the initial posture. Maintain a straight line with your entire body. Rep as many times as you can.


How to do a proper push up illustration military manual.Instructions. The judge instructs the performer that the arms must be straight at the start and end of the performance, that the chest must contact the judge’s palm, and that the stomach, thighs, or legs must not touch the floor. Hands and feet must remain in their original positions. He is also instructed to keep his whole body straight while he raises his shoulders; that is, the shoulders should not be elevated first, followed by the hips, or vice versa. If the guy is lifting his hips too much or raising his shoulders first, the judge uses his free hand to instruct him. He taps the guy on the top of the hips to straighten them out in the first situation, and beneath the belly in the second case to make him rise his abdomen at the same rate as his shoulders.

Scoring and administration. When the performer’s arms are totally straightened and the activity is executed in proper form, he receives one pushup. If the whole body is rising upward at roughly the same pace, there is no penalty for the hips being slightly out of line. The guys are free to go forward but must not stop to rest. A half-pushup is awarded to a guy who breaches any of the foregoing guidelines. The test is over when the performer is no longer able to maintain a proper front leaning rest.


Position to begin. The performer is lying on his back, legs straight, feet about 18 inches apart, fingers knotted behind his head, and elbows on the ground. At the performer’s feet, the scorer kneels on the ground and pushes the performer’s ankles hard against the earth.

Movement. Raise your upper body, twisting it slightly to the left, and then lean forward until your right elbow touches your left knee. When sitting up, the knees may bow slightly. Lower your body until your back and elbows are parallel to the ground. Sit up again, but this time twist your body to the right and place your left elbow on your right knee. Lower the body till the back reaches the ground once again. In two minutes, do as many situps as you can. During the exam, you are allowed to take rest breaks, but these count against the 2-minute time limit.

How to do sit-ups illustration military manual.Instructions. The performer should be informed that he must maintain his knees straight until he begins to sit up, that he must contact his knee with his opposite elbow, and that he may not force himself up from the ground with his elbow.

Scoring and administration. Each situp done within the 2-minute time limit earns the performer a point. If he unclasps his hand from his head, pushes up from his elbow, or maintains his legs bent while laying back on the ground, he receives no points. If the elbow barely misses the knee, he is not fined. He must, however, raise himself to the point where his elbow nearly touches his knee. Every 20 seconds, the time should be stated. The timer yells STOP at the conclusion of 2 minutes, and the judge calculates the total number of situps done before the stop order.



A 60-yard track is put out on flat, level land with four-foot-wide lanes for each runner. Cross-marks are placed at right angles to the lanes on both ends of the course. One end’s cross-mark acts as a starting line, while the other serves as a finish line. At either end of each lane, there is a stake that is at least 112 feet high in the centre of the cross mark. The lanes should be marked out in lime if at all feasible. If there are no lanes, the stakes should be numbered or painted in various colors. Each performer is required to sprint around his stake without touching it.

Position to begin. Standing in the lane behind the starting line, with the back foot braced on another man’s foot placed crosswise behind it.

Movement. Run to the stake at the far end of the lane when the beginning signal is given. At the finish line, run around the stake. Then return to the starting line and run around the stake. Continue until you’ve ran five lengths of the course, or 300 yards. Each turn should be made from right to left. The race will terminate at the opposite end of the track from where it began.

A diagram of a stake.Instructions. The men should be instructed to run at around 9/10ths of their maximum pace, straight down the lane, spin around the far stake from right to left without touching it, then return sprinting around the stakes one by one until they have completed five full lengths. Following the run, the males should be taught to stroll around gently for 3 or 4 minutes. If they move instead of lying down, they will recover considerably faster.

Scoring and administration. At the finish line, there is one inspection, or judge, for each runner. The judge keeps an eye on his runner to ensure that he follows all of the regulations and makes correct turns. This inspector also has the man’s identification card and keeps track of his performance. A timekeeper stands 20 feet from the finish line on one of the course’s lines in the center. The starter calls out to the men, “Get on your mark; get ready; go.” The starter should also utilize a hand signal since the timer begins his watch by pressing the “go” button.

The timer starts counting the seconds aloud when the first runner is around 30 yards from the finish line, using “hup” for half-seconds. He counts “44, hup, 45, hup, 46, hup, 47, hup, 48, hup, hup, hup, hup, hup, hup, hup, hup, hup, hup, hup, hup, hup, hup, h Each man’s judge listens to the count while keeping an eye on his runner. The final full second or half-second, which was tallied before the man crossed the finish line, is then recorded. After recording the time on the man’s scorecard, the inspector hands it back to him.



On the gymnasium floor, a 25-yard track with four-foot-wide lanes for each runner is built out. Water-soluble coloring, chalk, paint, or sticky tape should be used to designate the lanes on the floor. At both ends of the course, there are turning boards. Each turning board is positioned at a 45o angle, facing the runner and within the lane. The turning boards must be well-braced and constructed of a sturdy material. They should be between 12 and 16 inches wide. The bottom margins of the turning boards are flush with the running area’s line ends. Each lane’s number will be painted on the front of each board.

Position to begin. With one foot braced on a turning board and the other foot and hands extended into the lane, you’re ready for a sprint start.

Movement. Run to the turning board at the opposite end of the lane when the beginning signal is given. With your foot or feet, make contact with the board. Turn around and run until you’ve completed 10 shuttle trips or laps (for a total of 250 yards). Except for the last lap, touch the turning board at the conclusion of each lap. The runner will continue over the turning board at the completion of the last lap. Any footwork may be employed to make the turn as long as the foot or feet always contact the turning board.

Instructions. Each runner is required to remain in his or her assigned lane. Making the turn may be done in any way, although it is preferable that the front foot touches the block on the turn. If a runner falls or is hampered during the run by another participant entering his lane, he may be allowed to repeat the race at a later time within the same duration.

Scoring and administration. The 300-yard run is the event that is conducted and scored. On the last lap, the runner’s body goes beyond the turning board, and the time is recorded.


When the indoor shuttle run cannot be utilized to replace the 300-yard run, the 60-second squat thrust should be used instead.

Position to begin. Attention.

Movement. Squat down and put hands on ground shoulder width apart, bending knees and hips. Keep your elbows tucked into your knees. Backward thrust your feet and legs to a front leaning rest posture. Maintain a straight line from head to heels. Weight should be supported by the hands and toes. Get back into a squatting posture. After that, return to your starting location.

How to do burpees squat thrust illustration military manual.Instructions. When the guys are thrusting their legs backwards, they should be informed that their shoulders should be considerably ahead of their hands. When the legs are extended too far backward, the shoulders are behind the hands, making it difficult to quickly return to the previous posture. On the preparatory practice, the performer is instructed that if he does not fully bend his knees, but merely to a right angle, he will score higher, and that he should maintain his arms straight. If he bends his arms, it is not a failure, but the performer will not be able to score as well.


Scoring and administration. Each complete squat thrust receives a score based on how well it was executed. When the feet are back before the hands are put on the ground, the hips are elevated over the shoulder-heel line, and the performer does not completely return to the upright posture on the fourth count, no point is granted. The judge should not count out loud since it is likely to confuse other judges nearby. If the guy is executing the event poorly, the judge should either coach him or make him pause and retake the exam after extra coaching.

How did it go for you? Look through the score sheet.

How did it go for you? Look through the score sheet.


FM 21-20 Future of the APFT TSAC Report



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The “wehrmacht fitness manual pdf” is a document that was released by the German military during World War II. The document details the physical and mental health of soldiers in order to help them stay fit and healthy during wartime.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was the old Army fitness test?

A: The old army fitness test consisted of a series of physical exercises which were meant to measure how well one was able to do various tasks. It is no longer in use, but it used for many years and still the basis for their current tests.

What was the fitness test?

A: The fitness test was a series of timed tests in order to determine the peak level of physical performance.

Which military has the hardest fitness test?

A: The U.S. Armys Physical Fitness Test is the most difficult fitness test in the United States military, but it doesnt take into account a persons weight or age group.

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