drill sergeant standing over recruit doing pushups

Train Like a Soldier: The Exact Workouts Military Personnel Use to Get (and Stay) Fit

14 workouts to build strength in as little as 20 minutes.

For the U.S. Army and other elite military forces around the globe, training methods are designed to push participants past physical and mental breaking points. The only mission: keep up.

Think you’ve got what it takes?

Here’s our list of the best military tests, hero WODs, and training regimens so you can become the strongest, and fittest, too.

U.S. Military Fitness Tests

Can you keep pace with a Green Beret? How about a Navy SEAL? Find out by completing an actual military fitness test from one of four branches. See how you stack up against some gold standards for human performance.

1. The U.S. Army Combat Fitness Test

The Army Combat Fitness Test replaces the original Army Physical Fitness Test. The new test focuses on more tactical fitness elements such as muscular strength and power, endurance, stamina, speed, and agility that today’s fittest soldiers rely on to stay combat-ready. Try it yourself.

The Test: 

  • Trap-bar deadlifts (3-rep-max)
  • Backward medicine ball
  • Throw (for distance)
  • Plank hold (for time)
  • Hand release pushups (maximum reps in two minutes)
  • Two mile run (for time)
  • Hybrid sprint drag carry (for time)


When you’re done, see how you stack up.

2. The U.S. Navy Seal Fitness Test

Prospective SEALs must first pass the fitness test below. Don’t expect to slide by with the minimum score—anyone who outperforms you is admitted before you. How hard will you push to secure your spot?

The Test: 

  • 500-yard swim (time of 12:30 of less)
  • Pushups (maximum reps in two minutes, minimum 50 reps)
  • Situps (maximum reps in two minutes, minimum 50 reps)
  • Pullups (maximum reps in two minutes, minimum 10 reps)
  • 1.5 mile run (time of 10:30 or less)


3. The U.S. Marine Corps Initial Strength Test

Marines are expected to always maintain peak physical shape. Rep out the initial strength test below to see if you qualify for recruit training. (Or try the Marine physical fitness or combat fitness test recruits have to face once they’re in.)

The Test: 

  • 3 pullups or 34 pushups (2:00 time limit)
  • 1.5 mile run (time of 13:30 or less)
  • 40-second plank or 44 crunches (2:00 time limit)


4. The U.S. Coast Guard Fitness Test

To become a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, recruits are tested for strength, mobility, and cardiovascular fitness in and out of the water. How do you stack up? Give it a shot.

The Test: 

  • Pushups (maximum reps in 60 seconds, minimum 29 reps)
  • Situps (maximum reps in 60 seconds, minimum 38 reps)
  • 1.5-mile run (for time, time of 12:51 or less) 
  • Sit and reach (for distance minimum 16.5 inches)
  • Complete swim circuit test
    • Tread water 5 minutes 
    • Jump off 5-foot platform, swim 100 meters

Hero CrossFit WODs

A hero WOD (workout of the day) is a tribute to a fallen first responder or military member. Below, five hero WODs to honor their sacrifice.

5. The Chad

After a 21-year career, Navy SEAL Chad Wilkinson experienced the effects of numerous deployments, several traumatic brain injuries, blast wave injuries, and PTSD. In 2018, he took his life. Today, thousands come together on Veteran’s Day to honor Wilkinson and bring awareness to veteran suicide. Crank it out on your own or join the cause.

The Workout:

Do 1,000 box step-ups, wearing a 45-pound weighted vest or rucksack. Complete as a team, partner, or individual for time.

6. The Murph

Named after Navy SEAL Michael Murphy, the Murph consists of two miles of running and 600 reps of bodyweight classics: pullups, pushups, and air squats. This savage challenge is done sporting a 20-pound vest or rucksack, historically on Memorial Day.

The Workout:

Complete the following circuit wearing a 20-pound vest or rucksack. 

  • 1 Mile Run 
  • 100 Pullups 
  • 200 Pushups 
  • 300 Squats 
  • 1 Mile Run 


7. The DT

This grueling barbell workout honors Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy P. Davis memory and has been programmed at the CrossFit Games several times. For total annihilation, try the punishing “Double DT” which is 10 rounds instead of five, or “Heavy DT,” which increases the weight to 205 pounds.

The Workout:

Complete 5 rounds for time at 155-pounds for men.

  • 15 Deadlifts
  • 9 Hang power cleans
  • 6 Push jerks


8. The Jenny

This workout, in memory of Army Captain Jennifer M. Moreno, is 20 minutes long, and scored by how many rounds you can rep out. If you don’t have a barbell or need to scale the weight, sub for bodyweight squats.

The Workout:

Set your timer for 20 minutes and complete as many rounds as possible.

  • 20 Overhead squats, at 45 pounds
  • 20 Back squats, at 45 pounds
  • 400-meter run


9. The Loredo

Six rounds of 24 reps represent June 24th, the day Army Staff Sgt. Edwardo Loredo lost his life. Scale this workout by modifying the exercises as you get tired. For example, go to failure on pushups, then continue the workout by dropping your knees for knee pushups.

The Workout:

Complete six rounds for time.

  • 24 Air squats
  • 24 Pushups
  • 24 Walking lunges
  • 400-meter run


Military Training Workouts

The true grit for military members kicks in after basic training when they’re expected to be ready for battle at a moments notice. To stay ready, compound exercises, heavy resistance, and high-intensity efforts pepper their typical training regimen. Here’s how it’s done.

10. Rob Shaul’s Operator Ugly Test

Rob Shaul has used the Operator Ugly test to assess military personnel for a decade. The test includes seven blocks of work, plus a warm-up. Shaul’s version includes an extensive warmup.

The Test:

  • Front squat, max reps at 185-pounds
  • Bench press, max reps at 185-pounds 
  • Dead stop hinge lift, max reps at 225-pounds in 60 seconds 
  • Sprint circuit – 4 rounds for total reps 
    • 60-second 25-meter sprint
    • 60 seconds rest 
  • Strict pullups, max reps 
  • Sand bag getup, max reps at 80-pounds in 10 minutes 
  • 3-mile run wearing a 25-pound weighted vest, must finish within 30 minutes


Too much? No shame. Shaul adapted his protocol for the general population by dropping to 155 pounds for front squats and bench presses, and 185 pounds for deadlifts.

11. Josh Bridge’s 21-15-9 Workout

Josh Bridges, a retired US Navy Seal and six-time CrossFit Games athlete shared one of his go-to sessions with The Morning Chalk Up. His workout is designed to test your mental grit, physical strength, and cardiovascular work capacity. Lock and load.

The Workout:


  • 15-meter bear crawl
  • 5-inch worm and press-up
  • 5 Burpees with high jump
  • 15-meter duck walk


Complete the circuit first with 21 reps of each exercise, then 15 reps, and finish with 9 reps.

  • Bar facing burpee
  • Barbell power cleans (45.2kg/30kg) or dumbbell power cleans (22.5kg/15kg)
  • 400-meter run



  • Child’s pose, 60 seconds
  • Pigeon stretch, 30 seconds per side


12. Jedidiah Ballard’s Total Body Ruck Workout

When Men’s Health asked former Ranger Jedidiah Ballard how to train like a soldier, he chose just one piece of equipment: the rucksack. In training, a rucksack is basically a weighted backpack weighing in at 45 pounds. Grab one and move.

The Workout:

Complete the exercises below using your rucksack for weight.

  • 20 Front squats
  • 10 Pull-ups
  • 10 Pushups
  • 10 Walking Lunges
  • 10 Single arm rows
  • 10 Clean and press
  • 20 Flutter kicks


13. George Briones Recon Marine Workout

Veteran Recon Marine George Briones works for Soflete, a fitness app that dishes training regimens for tactical athletes. His recon marine workout challenge is designed to help you build functional strength and mental toughness under duress, through challenges aimed at flexing both. All you need is a kettlebell. Briones recommends 53 pounds for men, and 35 pounds for women, but use whatever you have access to. 

The Workout:

Repeat 3 rounds.

  • 10 Lunge and reach
  • 10 Prisoner Squats
  • 10 Side Lunges
  • 10 Inchworms to Cobra



Mental Challenge 
Lay out 10 random objects. Take two minutes to memorize as many details as possible about the items. For example: the logo, color, shapes, and words.

Strength Circuit 1
Set your timer for 10 minutes. Complete 3 reps of each exercise, then 6, then 9, working your way up a 3-rep ladder.

  • 25-meter Bear crawl
  • Iron mikes


Cardio Round 1
Set a timer for 5 minutes. Complete 50 burpees for time.

Strength Circuit 2
Set your timer for 10 minutes and complete as many rounds as possible.

  • 50 ft Single Arm Kettlebell Farmers Carry
  • 50 ft Single Arm Kettlebell Front Rack Carry


Cardio Round 2
Set a timer for 5 minutes. Complete 50 burpees for time. Try to complete them faster than the first time. 

Strength Circuit 3
Set your timer for 10 minutes and complete as many rounds as possible.

  • 10 Walking lunges
    10 Kettlebell swings


Cardio Round 3
Set a timer for 5 minutes. Complete 50 burpees for time. Try to make this round your fastest. 

Mental Challenge 
Set a timer for two minutes and recite as many details as possible about the items you memorized at the beginning of the workout. 

14. Erik Bartell’s Soldier Full Body Blast

Army veteran Erik Bartell serves as executive director of the FitOps Foundation—an organization founded to help veterans enter the fitness industry. Bartell’s training style combines high intensity with functional strength and conditioning. His go-to workout for full body strength will KO fat and build muscle.

The Workout:

Perform steady-state cardio (run, row, etc.) for 3 minutes.


  • 6 Inchworms to world’s greatest stretch
  • 10 Alternating reverse lunge
  • 10 Alternating forward lunge
  • 10 Alternating lateral lunge
  • 10 Y Raises

Set your timer for 10 minutes and complete as many rounds of possible as the following:

  • 10 Sandbag sprawl to squat
  • 10 Kettlebell swings
  • 10 Sandbag alternating over shoulder


Strength Training 

Superset 1
Complete 3 total sets, rest two minutes between sets.

  • 10 Glute bridge to alternating dumbbell floor press
  • 10 Bench dumbbell row


Superset 2
Complete 3 total sets, rest two minutes between sets.

  • 10 Kettlebell rack Bulgarian split squats
  • 10 Trap bar deadlift



  • Parallette pushup, max reps in 60 seconds
  • Tornado ball seated cop, max reps in 60 seconds
  • 10 Sled pushes