Entering any branch of the armed forces is a monumental task, requiring rigorous training and peak performance. And before you can enter any of them, you have to pass a military physical fitness tests designed to challenge your strength and endurance.
Among these assessments is a particularly grueling category of evaluations for special forces, which is as elite as it gets.
The gist? Prove your stamina, speed, agility, and strength over the course of several events. Five different tests repeatedly make the top lists of military physical fitness tests from around the world, and they’re as follows (in no particular order):
UK Special Air Services
Established in 1941, the SAS is one of the oldest special forces units in the world, and only about 15 percent of people who participate in its physical fitness assessments are able to complete the eight tasks below, according to Men’s Health UK.
- More than 45 push-ups
- More than 45 sit-ups
- 1.5-mile run in under 9:30 minutes
- Jump from a 10m tower into water
- 25m water swim in full uniform holding weapon
- 200m swim in uniform with 5-minute water tread
- Underwater object retrieval and dive test
- 8-mile hill run in less than 60 minutes
US Delta Force
This special operations force of the United States Army is no joke, and neither is the physical fitness test candidates are required to pass before joining it. According to Men’s Health UK, here’s the initial test.
- 40m inverted crawl (aka crab walk) in under 25 secs
- 37 sit-ups in 1 min
- 32 push-ups in 1 min
- A run, dodge, jump course in under 24 secs
- 2-mile run in under 16:30 mins
- 100m swim (fully dressed, including jumpsuit)
India’s Para Special Forces
It takes over three years to complete the training program for India’s Para Special Forces, and only about one in 10 recruits passes in the end. Here’s their final physical fitness test.
- 5,000m run in under 20 mins
- 14 strict chin-ups (FYI, “strict” means hanging fully extended with arms straight.)
- 40 push-ups in under 1 min
- 80 sit-ups in under 2 mins
- 17 x 5-meter shuttle run (an agility test in which you continuously run back and forth between different markers)
Australia Commando (Special Air Service Regiment)
Another “swim in your uniform” test (please, again, do not do this at home), the land down under requires a weighted run and march.
- A minimum of 40 cadence push-ups (i.e. performed at a specific pace)
- A minimum of 7 cadence chin-ups
- 2-mile run in under 16 mins wearing patrol uniform and kit weighing 10kg
- 6.2-mile march in under 90 mins wearing patrol uniform and kit weighing 30kg
- 400m swim in full uniform in under 18 minutes with 2-min water tread
This is the toughest physical fitness assessment on the list and the only one that involves actual fighting. Suffice it to say, it’s not for the faint of heart.
- 3000m (1.86-miles) run in under 10:30 mins
- 100m run in under 12.7 secs
- 10 x 10m suicide drills (sprinting back and forth to progressively longer distance markers) in under 25 secs
- At least 25 pull-ups
- At least 90 push-ups in under 2 mins
- At least 90 sit-ups in under 2 mins
- At least 30 triceps dips
- 10 reps bench press, equivalent to body weight (but no more than 100kg)
- 10 rounds of 15 push-ups, 15 sit-ups, 15 half burpees (from sitting position to push-up plank), and 15 burpees (from sitting position)
- Hand-to-hand combat, 3 x 3-minute rounds against a larger opponent
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