You are required to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) before you graduate from BCT and during AIT. After AIT, you’ll take the APFT once a year and the results will become part of your records. At your commander’s discretion, APFTs may be administered at any time in order to gauge your fitness level. These tests might not be added to your permanent record, but it is essential to always stay prepared for an APFT at any time.

When you take the APFT, push-ups come first, followed by sit-ups, then the 2-mile run. You’ll have a rest period of 10–20 minutes between sets. You’ll be tested in small groups for the first two exercises, and there will be a demonstration of proper form before the exercise begins. For the 2-mile run, you’ll be tested in a large group and will wear a number on your chest that must remain visible at all times.

You are required to take the APFT for record at least once a year, and you’ll also need to take it every time you want to take a step forward in your career. Fitness is of critical importance in the Army, and only those who are in the best shape get to become NCOs, or get invited to join special training schools.

As you move up in rank, you’ll earn promotion points for many reasons—one of which is APFT scores. You can earn up to 75 points for excellent APFT scores. One or two more push-ups can be the difference between getting a promotion or having to wait another year. Develop good fitness habits early.

In addition to earning promotion points, high APFT scores can also help you gain admission to special schools, such as Air Assault, Sniper and Mountain Warfare. The availability of these schools is partly based on your MOS and unit mission, but with some, you’ll also need to score very high on the APFT in order to be considered. The opportunity to attend these highly selective schools may come once in a lifetime, and each demands intense physical training. Only the best, brightest and most physically fit are chosen.

If you show leadership potential, you may have the opportunity to become a noncommissioned officer. NCOs are leaders and trainers of Soldiers. They become eligible for promotions by completing training courses at an NCO Academy. As one of the first events at the academy, you’ll take an APFT and the results will go on your permanent record. But if you fail the APFT, you will be sent home, regardless of your academic scores.

The Guard may be deployed at any time. Being ready to go from citizen to Soldier at a moment’s notice means constant physical fitness. And if you get promoted to a leadership position in the Guard, you’ll have to be able to perform any task you ask of your Soldiers and lead by example.