As a Soldier in the National Guard, you are expected to remain in top physical condition. This responsibility lies upon you to stay motivated and consistent outside of drill. In this article I will go over ways you can improve your score whether you are a busy body with little time in the day for physical activities, or the couch potato glued to the newest trending show on Netflix.

These are “out of gym” or “at home” methods. Phase 1 will last two weeks with a minimum of four days per week.

Phase 1:

Get your head right!

Most of what you get out of your physical training is derived from your ability to push the limits and stay consistent. Don’t shoot for passing, aim for the big 300! Higher goals equal better results.



I know, something something eat better, right? The fact of the matter is, knowing what you are consuming and how your body uses it, is a huge advantage. For instance, not all fats are bad. You just need to know the difference.

The good stuff:

  1. Monounsaturated fat (omega 9) can be found in avocados, olive oil, and some nuts.
  2. Polyunsaturated fat is found in some fish, vegetable oils and in certain nuts and seeds.

Both mono and poly unsaturated fats can help reduce cholesterol levels. High cholesterol can restrict blood flow in your arteries and that means you are gonna have a bad time. So long as you avoid saturated fat you will be much better off.

3. Protein! Protein is your new best friend. It will assist you in becoming the best you! Ideally you want to consume your weight but in grams of protein a day. If you weigh 150lbs, consume 150 grams of protein. If you want some serious results then up that intake to 1.5 – 2 times your body weight in grams. Turkey, chicken and fish are my top recommendations for primary protein sources. Red meats are great too, but they can also act as an inflammatory. You can get protein from other sources like peanut butter, and other veggies. If you like protein blends, while there are a lot of great options out there, my favorite has always been “Combat” by Muscle Pharm. It contains fast, medium and slow digestive proteins to keep your muscles fueled for longer. I have included a link below:

Combat Protein Powder

The bad stuff:

  1.  Saturated fats as stated in the paragraph above are good to avoid. Your heart will thank you, especially as you work your way into PT greatness. Trust me, it will be pounding!
  2. Sugar is a conniving little substance. It is in almost everything and is the main cause of our nations health and weight issues. The worst part is, your body synthesizes some foods into sugar on it’s own! Beside what you can taste in candies or baked goods or what you pour into your morning coffee, some can be found in vegetables and other unsweetened foods and still contribute greatly to your overall sugar intake. They are mainly starches like pasta, potatoes, white bread, rice, flour, corn, some dairy and fruits like apples, etc.  I am not saying totally avoid these foods. All is okay in moderation. Just be aware of how much you consume, especially in one sitting. As long as you mainly avoid the artificial sweets out there you will be well off.

The other stuff:

  1. Carbs and Calories. If you are going to reduce anything, focus on carbs over calories. There are four calories in one carbohydrate as well as protein. Your best option; cut the carbs and consume the protein.

Now let’s have some fun!

  • Start with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). This method will be most effective in improving your cardio and for those of you with a little extra in the middle, help shave some inches. In this HIIT, you must complete four sets of two exercises with minimal rest. Below are some examples of good HIIT exercises:
  1. Bur-pees and Mountain Climbers for 10 reps, four sets. Rest two minutes and move to the next exercise.
  2. Frog Jumps and Bicycle Crunches for 10 reps, four sets. Rest two minutes and move on.
  3. Lunges and Pushups for 10 reps, four sets. Rest two minutes, and repeat cycle.

Keep your heart rate up! (If you aren’t struggling, increase the reps).

Improve Muscle Endurance. This is best acheived by subjecting your muscles to long interval durations. Here are some methods you can use to get the most out of your alloted two minutes for pushups/situps and the two mile run:

  • Sit-ups! Repping out sit-ups in the same fashion required during the APFT will help primarily increase the performance from your hip flexors. This is a great place to start. Don’t worry about the two minute time limit at this point, rep to failure. To improve your core in a way to assist in achieving those extra few reps you will need to target resistance in your abdominal section. You can apply this method on your couch, floor, or even your bed! If on your couch, sit near or on the edge and lay back. If on the ground or in bed, lay flat. Raise your body to the point your back isn’t touching any surface and squeeze your abs tight. Hold this position until the burn becomes unbearable, then rest. As soon as the burn subsides, repeat. Continue this until you can’t handle it any longer, then a little more! You can do this while watching your favorite show or movie! This is a great an easy way to get in those burns at home.
  • Pushups! Simple, keep pushing! When you reach failure, drop your knees and keep going til you reach failure again. Repeat, repeat, and repeat. Remember, this is about endurance so go for as long as you can. Widening and shortening the width between your hands with each set will help ensure all the muscle fibers at work are getting the most out of your efforts.
  • Running in general is great for increasing muscle endurance in your legs, but that alone will keep you from accelerating at the fastest pace possible. Repping out body weight lunges and squats before and after a run will help tremendously.

In phase 2 (weeks 3-5) you will be capitalizing on your previous efforts with more endurance and more resistance through more relative workouts to what you will conduct during the APFT.

Phase 2:

  1. 60- 120s. You should remember this from basic training. This exercise is a great way to condition your heart and improve your time on the two mile run. Perform 10 sets. If you don’t feel that you have pushed past your limits here, add sets.
  2. Pushups! Set a timer on your phone or from another source to 3min and rep out pushups to standard til time is up. By adding a minute to your required testing time you will find that your rep count increases dramatically in the first two.
  3. Sit-ups! Set a timer for 3 minutes and rep put as many sit-ups as possible.

If you reach failure before three minutes don’t get discouraged. You will get there!

PRO TIP! Stay off the scale for the first few weeks of your training! You are going to be gaining muscle while losing fat and muscle weighs more. Keep track of inches lost instead!

This training, like anything else is only effective if you remain committed and push yourself past your comfort zone. It is your responsibility to stay physically fit and healthy so that you are mission ready. Through time, exercise and diet will transform from work to lifestyle, where it feels less like a hassle or obligation. Now get to work!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to browse through the other articles I have written for more great fitness information.

– Samuel McKeown, Certified Personal Trainer