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The Perfect Pushups - Ace Any Military PT Test

This week, I received an e-mail from a young lady who aspires to join the military in the next year. Knowing she has a lot of physical fitness tests in her future, she wants some advice on improving her performance of push-ups. She says she has never practiced push-ups the "traditional way," which is what I call the regular push-up as opposed to the knee push-up.

First of all, there is no reason why women cannot do the regular push-up. All it takes is practice. I have several men and women clients who started out doing push-ups on their knees but now can easily do 40 to 50 regular push-ups without stopping to rest. Here are some simple tips and workouts to help you get above-average scores on the PFT.

Proper Full-Body Warm-Up

Get the heart pumping and the arms warmed up by doing the following warm-up (repeat three to five times; it only takes 2 or 3 minutes):

  • Jumping jacks, 10
  • Push-ups, 10

    After warming up, stretch the triceps and chest and shoulders:

  • Triceps/shoulders stretch:
    Place both arms over and behind your head. Grab your right elbow with your left hand and pull your elbow toward your opposite shoulder. Lean into the pull to also stretch your back/oblique muscles. Switch arms and repeat.

    Chest/shoulders stretch:
  • Pull your shoulders/arms back and grab onto a wall / bar and stick your chest out. Hold for 15 seconds. Switch arms and repeat.

    Techniques and Workouts

    Go fast. For maximum points on the PFT, do the push-ups as quickly as you can. The slower you go, the more gravity will affect your strength. Adhere to proper form however.

    Up Position - arms straight

    Proper stance. Your hands should be about shoulder width apart. Lie on the floor with your hands even with your shoulders. Too many people place their hands too high or too low, which will weaken your push-ups tremendously.

    Down position - Arms 90 degree bend at elbows / chest about fist high from ground (3-4 inchs)

  • Stay on your toes. Once you burn out, it is OK to go to your knees in order to finish the workout.

    The following workouts are taken from the eBooks found at the Fitness eBook Store . Not only is the super set one of the best ways to increase your push-ups, but while you "rest" your push-up muscles, you can also increase your sit-ups.

    Push-Up/Crunch Super Set

    Do five to 10 cycles of:

  • Regular push-ups, 10
  • Regular crunches, 10
  • Wide push-ups, 10
  • Reverse crunches, 10
  • Triceps push-ups, 10
  • Left/right crunches, 10 each side

    The timed workout is another way to increase your push-ups and sit-ups that also helps prepare you for training with the clock -- good practice for the PFT. Being timed is what leads to most people's PFT anxiety.

    Timed Workout

    Repeat twice:
  • 1 minute of push-ups
  • 1 minute of sit-ups

    Repeat three times:

  • 30 seconds of push-ups
  • 30 seconds of sit-ups

    Repeat four times:
  • 15 seconds of push-ups
  • 15 seconds of sit-ups

    Try these workouts only resting while you do your crunches or sit-ups. These workouts are challenging and only take a few minutes to do. I recommend that you try to incorporate push-ups and crunches into your workout three times a week and every other day, if you are not following a detailed program.

    Stew reminds you to consult your physician before beginning any new exercise or diet program -- especially if you have been inactive for a while or if you have any medical problems. Have questions?


    Surviving BUD/S

  • Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the
    National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy
    lifestyle - check out the
    Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at

     To contact Stew with your comments and questions, just e-mail him

    Also Check out Stew on Fight Science - National Geographic Channel



    Books, eBooks, DVDs

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    Published Books / DVDs / APPs

    Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness      |    More Info     |  Book / DVD
    Maximum Fitness - CrossTraining     |    More Info     |  Book only
    The Special Operations Workout     |   More Info     |     Book only
    The SWAT Workout - From Recruit to SWAT      |  More Info    |  Book Only
    The Combat Swimmer Stroke Video     |  More Info   |  Download MP4
    The Pre-Habit Workout     |  More Info  |  DVD only
    New Fitness APPs Navy SEAL, FBI, Pushup. Pullups   |  More Info    |  APPS

    Coming Soon - Navy SEAL Fitness with Weight Training

    The Complete List of Stew Smith's eBooks / Books:


    Fitness for All Levels of Fitness

    The 90 Day Beginner Guide to Fitness    |  More Info  |  eBook, Book

    Reclaim Your Life - The Erin O'Neill Program     |  More Info  |  eBook only

    Veteran's Fitness - Baby Boomer and a Flat Stomach     |  More Info   eBook only

    The Diabetic Prevention Workout   |  More Info   |   eBook only 

    Advanced Maintenance and Recovery Program   |  More Info   |  eBook only

    The TRX Workout eBook     |  More Info   eBook only

    NEW - Circuit Training 101 eBook      |  More Info   eBook only

    NEW Obstacle Course Race eBook      |  More Info   eBook only

    The Special Forces Physical Fitness Workouts


    Combat Conditioning Workout       |  More Info  |  eBook, Book

    Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1:  Beginner       |  More Info  |    eBook, Book

    Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3:  Intermediate     |  More Info   eBook, Book


    Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT      |  More Info   eBook, Book

    Navy SWCC Workout       |  More Info    |    eBook, Book


    Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout  | More Info SF /  Ranger  eBook, Book


    USMC RECON Workout       |  More Info  |  eBook, Book


    Air Force PJ / CCT Workout      |  More Info  |  eBook, Book


    The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Workout      |  More Info   eBook, Book


    The Army Air Assault School Workout     More Info   eBook only


    The Army Airborne Workout     More Info   eBook only


    NEW - Upper Body Round Robin (UBRR)    More Info   eBook only


    The OCS, ROTC, Service Academy, & Bootcamp Workouts

    The USMC IST and PFT Workout      More Info   eBook only

     USMC OCS / TBS Workout       |  More Info   eBook, Book

     The Service Academy Workout     More Info   eBook, Book


    Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Bootcamp Workout   More Info   eBook, Book


    The Army OCS and PFT Workout    More Info   eBook, Book


    NEW Army PRT and Combat Readiness Test Workout    More Info   eBook only


    The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT    |  More Info   eBook, Book


    The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Test Workouts


    The FBI Academy / PFT Prep Workout (Vol 1 and 2)      |  More Info   eBook, Book


    The DEA Prep Workout      More Info   eBook only


    The FLETC Prep Workout - Ace the PEB      More Info   eBook, Book


    The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT      |  More Info   eBook, Book


    The Fire Fighter Workout       |  More Info   eBook, Book





    Surviving BUD/S

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    TRX Train Like the Pros

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