If you are preparing to begin your time in the Army with basic training, you probably know that the three key components of the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) – which you will be required to pass before graduating – are push-ups, running and sit-ups.

We have already discussed how to perfect the proper push-up and the best alternatives for improving your run time. Many of us tend to focus on these two components while overlooking the ever-important sit-up. That is why we are dedicating this post to the proper sit-up technique and methods for improving your speed and endurance.


What to expect during the test

During the APFT you will have two minutes to complete as many sit-ups as you can. While completing your sit-ups you will be expected to interlock your fingers behind your head and keep your heels firmly on the ground.

To complete a proper sit-up, you will need to adhere to the following criteria.

  • Keep your knees at a proper 90-degree angle
  • Ensure you hands remain interlocked behind your head, and touch the ground at the bottom of every sit-up
  • Do not bow or arch your back
  • Reach a completely vertical position, which requires you to keep the base of your neck above the base of your spine

Three ways to improve your sit-ups

1. Core Strengthening Exercises

Since sit-ups center around abdominal and hip flexor muscles, core-strengthening exercises are a great way to improve your performance.

Planks, flutter kicks, bicycle crunches and supermans are all great alternatives to traditional sit-ups, that will strengthen your abdominal muscles, in turn, improving your sit-up speed

2. Be Efficient!

Managing your energy efficiently is a crucial component of improving your sit-up time. By dropping down quickly at the completion of each sit-up, and not engaging your abdominals during this portion of the exercise, you will conserve precious energy for bringing yourself back up.  

Many individuals make the mistake of trying to slowly lower themselves, which only hurts overall sit-up time and wastes energy.

3. Practice makes perfect

We know it’s a cliche, but it’s true. Behind every high APFT score is dedication and practice. While training, it is recommended to take a practice test every two to six weeks to track your progress. This will help you analyze what you are doing right, and what you need to improve.

You may want to enroll the help of a friend to observe your technique and form. By receiving feedback on your sit-up performance, you will figure out what you may be doing wrong, and how you can change your technique for a better end result.

Sit-ups may seem like a no-brainer. I mean you’ve been doing them since elementary school gym class, right? However, by focusing on proper form, focusing on core strengthening exercises and practicing regularly, you can easily set yourself up for success of the APFT.

Not sure what the APFT standards are for your demographic? Learn more about the current standards, here.