U.S. Air Force Physical Fitness Requirements

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 9, 2021 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated June 9, 2021

Published February 4, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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If you're preparing to join the U.S. Air Force, you must meet the branch's minimum physical fitness requirements. The requirements include tests of physical ability, but as of December 2020, no longer includes body measurements. If you are considering becoming an airman, it will help to understand the required physical fitness level.

In this article, we will summarize the Air Force's physical requirements, how the Air Force scores its physical fitness test and tips to help you prepare.

What is the Air Force Physical Fitness Test?

The Air Force Physical Fitness Test (PFT) is a physical assessment given to recruits during one of the final weeks of Air Force Basic Military Training (AFBMT). In addition, active members of the Air Force are also required to complete the PFT once a year. All current and potential airmen must maintain a high level of physical fitness to stay in the Air Force. The PFT includes the following:

  • Sit-ups: Enlistees and airmen complete this exercise to ensure they have the core strength to aid in balance, dynamic movement and overall physical strength necessary for service in the Air Force.

  • Push-ups: Enlistees and airmen perform push-ups to show they have the level of upper-body strength that is frequently needed to lift and carry equipment and perform dynamic movements and other tasks.

  • 1.5-mile run: This timed run ensures airmen and recruits have the cardiovascular endurance needed for military service.

Air Force physical requirements

The Air Force has different physical requirements for those entering Basic Military Training and for those about to graduate from training. Knowing about and preparing for the requirements will help those at every stage of the airman's journey, from enlistee to longtime active-duty airman.

Requirements for entry into Air Force BMT

Before starting boot camp, prospective Air Force recruits must first meet required fitness standards. These are tested upon arrival at boot camp. Those who do not meet the standards are deemed medically unable to complete boot camp. The standards are:

Male entry fitness requirements

Sit-ups Push-ups 1.5-mile run
11 8 18 minutes and 30 seconds

Female entry fitness requirements

Sit-ups Push-ups 1.5-mile run
11 8 18 minutes and 30 seconds

Requirements for graduation from Air Force BMT

The Air Force's PFT is given to recruits during the final weeks of boot camp. Recruits are required to pass PFT to move on to Advanced Individual Training. PFT has three main components besides the abdominal circumference measurement: sit-ups, push-ups and a 1.5-mile run. To graduate from AFBMT, members must meet the minimum requirements in each component.

During AFBMT, recruits are expected to retake the physical fitness test until they can meet all the minimum standards. There is usually a two-week "recycling" period in between tests to allow the recruit more time to prepare.

The basic PFT includes the following components with respective requirements:

Male graduation fitness requirements

Age Sit-ups Push-ups 1.5 mile run
29 and under 42 33 11 minutes and 57 seconds
30-39 39 27 11 minutes and 57 seconds

Female graduation fitness requirements

Age Sit-ups Push-ups 1.5-mile run
29 and under 38 18 14 minutes and 26 seconds
30 to 39 29 14 14 minutes and 26 seconds

Sit-ups

Sit-ups are performed with a partner holding the member's feet, and must be performed while wearing shoes and lying on a flat surface. Sit-ups are performed for one minute. Only correctly performed sit-ups are counted.

To properly complete a sit-up, a recruit or airmen begins with their lower back and shoulder blades touching the floor. Arms are folded across the chest. Then, they pull their body up, touching elbows to thighs while keeping hands firmly pressed against the chest or upper shoulders. Then, the member returns to the starting position and begins another rep.

To graduate from AFBMT, a recruit must meet the following standards:

  • Males, ages 29 and under: 42 sit-ups in a minute

  • Males, ages 30 to 39: 39 sit-ups in a minute

  • Females, ages 29 and under: 38 sit-ups in a minute

  • Females, ages 30 to 39: 29 sit-ups in a minute

Push-ups

Push-ups are performed on a level, flat surface while wearing shoes. The body must form a straight line and only be supported with the toes and palms. For one minute, the recruit or airmen lowers their body until arms bend at least 90 degrees. Only correctly performed push-ups are counted.

  • Males, ages 29 and under: 33 push-ups in a minute

  • Males, ages 30 to 39: 27 push-ups in a minute

  • Females, ages 29 and under: 18 push-ups in a minute

  • Females, ages 30 to 39: 14 push-ups in a minute

1.5-mile run

The Air Force standard for a cardio event is a 1.5-mile run/walk. It must be performed on a flat, solid surface such as a track. The member runs or walks, or performs a combination of running and walking, to complete the 1.5-mile distance as quickly as possible.

To graduate from AFBMT, a recruit must meet the following standards:

  • Males: 1.5 miles in 11 minutes and 57 seconds

  • Females: 1.5 miles in 14 minutes and 26 seconds

Air Force fitness awards

Those who perform exceptionally well on their PFT prior to graduation may be eligible for fitness awards. The two award levels include an additional exercise performance—pull-ups, where a recruit hangs from a bar and uses their upper-arm and back muscles to lift their body up so that their chin goes above the bar. This additional requirement, besides exceeding minimum requirements in the other three exercise components, shows a recruit's dedication to physical fitness.

The physical fitness levels, including award levels, are:

Liberator: This basic physical fitness level is for recruits and airmen who meet the minimum requirements.

Top PT Male/Female: This award is given to the top male and female trainees with the highest fitness score on the test.

Thunderbolt: This award level is for trainees who exceed the minimum requirements:
Males

Sit-ups Push-ups 1.5-mile run Pull-ups
70 62 8 minutes and 55 seconds 4

Females

Sit-ups Push-ups 1.5-mile run Pull-ups
60 37 11 minutes and 33 seconds 2

Warhawk: This award level is for those who exceed the minimum requirements:

Males

Sit-ups Push-ups 1.5-mile run Pull-ups
80 75 8 minutes and 8 seconds 10

Females

Sit-ups Push-ups 1.5-mile run Pull-ups
75 40 10 minutes and 55 seconds 5

How to prepare for Air Force BMT

If you are looking to get in good physical shape before arriving at AFBMT, the following steps can help you prepare for Air Force BMT:

  1. Consult your physician or other healthcare professional. Before starting your training regime, your physician can help you determine your current physical standing compared to the Air Force's requirements and create a regime that helps you achieve your fitness goals.

  2. Start working out twice a day. Exercise in the morning and evening to mirror the long days of physical activity required at BMT.

  3. Combine cardio and strength workouts. In your balanced weekly regimen, this step allows you to prepare for AFBMT training and the PFT.

  4. Work out at least six days per week. Before arriving at BMT, this step can help you to get your body used to the training.

  5. Be sure to get a full night's sleep every night. This will help your body prepare for the rigors of training.

  6. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. This step ensures you maintain your nutrition and promote weight management needed in the Air Force.

Related: Joining the Air Force: What You Need to Know

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