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Preparing for Air Force Basic Training

Physical Fitness Standards


Air Force Basic Training
US Air Force/Flickr
Until recently, the Air Force has never had a reputation of being a very strenuous military service, when it came to exercise programs. In fact, following basic training and technical school, the Air Force annual fitness examination consisted of riding a stationary bike, while monitoring the heart rate. (see article about the Air Force Ergocycle Test).

Those days are gone. The Air Force chief of staff, General John P. Jumper got tired of the Air Force being known as the "wimpy service," and dramatically toughened up the Air Force physical fitness standards. In July of 2003, General Jumper announced that new, toughened physical fitness standards were going to be implemented Air Force wide, beginning in January 2004.

In support of the new program, the Air Force Education and Training Command implemented even tougher standards for basic training and technical school, effective in October 2003. It is no longer advisable to show up at Air Force Basic Military Training out of shape, as recruits have only six weeks (including the inprocessing week) before they must be able to pass the new standards.

By far, failing to pass the physical fitness standards is the number one reason that most recruits in Air Force Basic Training get recycled. "Recycle" is a term that means taking a recruit out of his normal flight, and "recycling" him/her into a flight that is in an earlier week of training (usually two weeks). That means that recruit spends that much extra time in basic training. I've heard of folks being recycled three and even four times for failing to meet the physical fitness standards before the commander finally gives up and initiates administrative discharge action.

You receive and initial assessment of your physical fitness (2-mile run, push-ups and sit-ups) during zero week. This assessment aids in identifying recruits who are in poor physical condition.

  • Results of this assessment designate a recruit's physical finess category.
  • Privileges may be revoked if you show no signs of improvement.
  • Recycle action may occur any time a recruit does not improve or fails to meet standards.
  • Airmen on full PC waivers have the same restrictions as those who fail to improve.
While at basic, you'll do PC six days per week. The six-day-a-week regimen includes three days of aerobic running and three days of muscular endurance training. The runs consist of 40-minute sessions of group-paced running, self-paced running and six 30-second sprint interval runs separated by brisk walking. Each week, trainees are timed on a two-mile run.

The muscular endurance training takes up to 48 minutes on a circuit of crunches, leg lifts, pushups, flutter kicks and pullups. These are designed to improve upper body and abdominal strength quickly.

During the entire period of basic training, recruits are individually timed on the 2-mile run once per week.

  • Lack of improvement may require a reassessment of your fitness category
  • Improvement may move you into a higher fitness category
  • Recycle action is considered if you are more than 1 1/2 minutes over your allotted running time

Graduation Requirements

The final fitness test is conducted at the end of the 4th WOT/beginning of the 5th WOT (prior to "Warrior Week"). To pass, recruits must meet the following MINIMUM physical fitness standards:


Two Mile Run - 16:45
1.5 mile Run - 11:57
Sit-Ups - 50 (in 2 minutes)
Push-Ups - 45 (in 2 minutes)


Two Mile Run - 19:45
1.5 Mile Run - 13:56
Sit-Ups - 50 (in 2 minutes)
Push-Ups - 27 (in 2 minutes)

Recruits who fail to meet the above standards can expect to be recycled for a minimum period of two weeks.

Warhawk Physical Fitness Award

Recruits who make the following MINIMUM standards qualify for the "Warhawk" Award:


Two Mile Run - 13:30
1.5 mile Run - 08:08
Sit-Ups - 80 (in 2 minutes)
Push-Ups - 75 (in 2 minutes)
Pull-Ups - 10


Two Mile Run - 15:00
1.5 Mile Run - 10:55
Sit-Ups - 75 (in 2 minutes)
Push-Ups - 40 (in 2 minutes)
Pull-Ups - 5

Those who qualify for "Warhawk" receive a special T-shirt, a recognition certificate, and receive an extra town pass on graduation weekend (that means they get to go off-base on the Sunday following graduation, as well as the normal Saturday).

Thunderbolt Physical Fitness Award

Recruits who make the following minimum physical fitness standards qualify for "Thunderbolt" Award, or the Honor Graduate requirement. While Physical Fitness is only one small part of the Honor Graduate requirements, a recruit must meet the following MINIMUM physical fitness standards to even be considered for the honor:


Two Mile Run - 15:15
1.5 mile Run - 8:55
Sit-Ups - 70 (in 1 minute)
Push-Ups - 62 (in 1 minute)
Pull-Ups - 5


Two Mile Run - 16:00
1.5 Mile Run - 11:33
Sit-Ups - 60 (in 1 minute)
Push-Ups - 37 (in 1 minute)
Pull-Ups - 2

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