T Nation

18 Year Old 6'3'' 185 Pounds


I'm a freshman at a military college. My life consists of high stress, little sleep and lots of PT. I tend to sleep from 2300(1100) to 0500 and have PT at 0530. As a recruit I am not allowed to leave campus so my meals generally consist of pasta, salad, tuna fish, peanut butter, protein shakes and whatever meal they are serving. I also have fish oil, creatine, bcaa's and glutamine available to me. Generally I PT for the Army five days a week and then workout on my own when I can. I generally follow bodybuilding.com trainers but am trying to get away from that and create my own. Any thoughts on diet, training, or physique?



what do you need to know mate?


Simply curious, if your going into the army why do you want to train for bodybuilding instead of a focus on strength?


I'm afraid you'll have to be a bit more specific than that.

Let's start with a basic question: what are your goals?

"Be big, strong, and lean" is a pretty general thing we're all after, so don't answer that. Let's get a little more specific. Do you want to score really high on PT tests? Play a sport? Does your branch of the service require swimming proficiency? "Thoughts on diet, training, and physique" have to be appropriately framed for the trainee in question. Give us a little more to work with here.


It you are doing PT 5 days a week I would limit my training to strength pursuits. Not a ton of work, but frequent. If you are adequately nourished, size will come.


My goals would are to max my PT test by the end of this year and continue to get above 300. Currently I seem to have stopped at 54 pushups, 70 sit ups and a 12:25 two mile time. I'd like to get stronger and be aesthetically pleasing if that is the right way to put it, when summer comes. My branch does not require swimming proficiency but there is quite a stress on running, as it is generally what we do for PT at least twice a week.


By the end of the year I would like to max my PT Test, I currently scored 266 with 54 pushups, 70 sit ups and a 12:25 two mile run. My branch does not require a swimming proficiency. I did a strength program all summer before I came to school and was thinking about focusing on bodybuilding to be aesthetically pleasing, if that is the right way to put it, for the summer. I've always loved working out and just want to look good if that makes sense.


you're on the right track mate: you're young, in shape, training hard and getting all your meals made for you. I don't really think you need any help; just keep on keeping on.


It's OK to want to be aesthetically pleasing, but if you really want to max the PT test, focus on that. Is the PT test just the three test you mentioned above? The pushups, situps, and 2 mile run? How long until you test again?
Pushups.....what is the max? Situps, same q? 2 mile run. same question. I mean, do you earn more and more points the better you do or is there a max?


How strenuous is your unit PT? Is it all running? Does it have a lot of randomness in terms of length and intensity?

What kind of athletic background do you have?

If you don't have much of a background in lifting, you could do a routine with just dips, pull ups, and squats once a week or twice a week if your legs can handle the running and squats together.


An Army PT test consists of two minutes of pushups and sit ups then a two mile run. The maxes are 71 pushups, 78 sit ups, and a 13:00 minute two mile. The highest score on paper you can get is 300, but you can keep doing repetitions unofficially.

PT in the morning is rather frustrating. Since it is the freshman year there are a number of kids who simply should not be there, or should be split off into another group. As a platoon we generally do "runs" one a week, where we put the slowest kids in the front and no one is allowed to pass them, so more of a jog.

Then abs and upper body another day. Then combat PT the final day, which usually consists of bear crawls, buddy carries, buddy drags and sprints. PT is not very strenuous just because you have high caliber cadets that are required to stay back and perform at a sub par level unfortunately.

I was a four year varsity starter in soccer during high school and my junior and senior year got quite dedicated in the weight room with the football team.


Here is a routine that would be good for you. You can train it 3 days a week or just twice if you had an unusually hard PT or something.

Workout A
Horizontal press 5 sets of 5 reps
Vertical pull 5 sets of 5 reps
Horizontal pull 3 sets of 12
Squat movement 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps
Accessory work

Workout B
Vertical press 5x5
Horizontal pull 5x5
Vertical pull 3x12
Deadlift movement 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps
Accessory work

Just rotate between A/B/A and B/A/B on a week to week basis Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

For your actual horizontal/vertical movements just pick an exercise and stick with it for a while. Could be 6 months or longer, but basically until you stop making progress with it. Generally you don't want to switch just to switch, you want to milk a movement until you stop benefiting from it then move on to another variation.

Some examples of horizontal pushes are bench press, dips, push ups, db press, rack lockouts, board presses, reverse band bench, etc.

Vertical pressing would be some kind of overhead lift like seated db press, seated barbell press, incline or log press. This variation will probably have to be done sitting cause on your leg.

Horizontal pulls are any kind of row. DB row, chest supported row, cable row

Vertical pulls are things like pull ups, chin ups, and lat pulldowns.

Squat variations are something like high bar back squat, low bar back squat, front squat, or SSB squat.

Deadlift variations could be regular deadlift, TNG deadlift, block pulls, reverse band deadlifts, or deficit deadlifts.

Accessory work is anything extra to address weak points, rehab, prehab, or just beach muscles. It shouldn't interfere with the main lifts or be taking up a shit ton of time. Some examples would be band pull aparts, neck work, Captain of Crush grippers, etc.

You should deload roughly every 6-8 weeks to give your body some relief from this type of training. To deload just do 1 week of your normal workouts but at 70% of the weight.


I'd focus on the tasks at hand if your desire is to max the test. There are plenty of push up programs. Find your test date and work back to now. For the run, if you are tested on two miles I would alt between running two miles for your best time, and running for 13:00 minutes for distance. sit ups, same thing. One day perhaps two or three sets of 40 spread throughout the day for best time. Other day best performance for 2 minutes.
Sports specificity tells us that the best practice is the practice of the actual event.
Throw in some pull ups to balance things out.


Best wishes from USAFA lol, hang in there man! First year flies by.


Choose a bodybuilding split that fits your schedule. Also focus on getting stronger on the main exercises. Don't be afraid to do doubles and triples. Get some buddies to train with you. Motivate one another the same way as when you are doing your PT.

And eat more. You are still scrawny.

Don't worry, you won't lose endurance or strength in bodyweight exercises as long as you push yourself and don't go overboard with the weight gain. You are young. You can do it.


Just my 2 cents from someone who has been in and maxed my PT test more than once.

You don't need a program for pushups and sit ups , just start doing them a few hundred every other day with good form.

On the sit ups do them with someone or something holding your feet as I find that it works the hip flexors more than the abs. You seem to have the run time down so just do whatever to maintain that.

Find a program and stick with it ....5/3/1 worked really well for me while I was in since it was so flexible and only had me squatting once a week, which can be really taxing on your legs.

Eat everything you can.


Thanks for all the input everyone, I really appreciate it. I've been doing a lot of pushups and sit ups on my own and definitely seeing my numbers going up. Also eating a ton of the healthiest stuff I can find. Doing a split between a bodybuilding regimen and the 5/3/1 program. I'll try to keep everyone up to date as far as progress or how my next PT test goes!


Seems you might be better off to focus your energy on maxing the APFT and learning to ruck long distances until you earn your commission. You will have the rest of your life to build strength and a bigger physique, but these four years are your only chance to get your career started right in the Army, and the APFT score and your conditioning are necessary for that end.


I don't practice bagpipes if I am tested on the harmonica.


Took our graded APFT for the semester and got a 340. Very happy with that and continuation of growth. Also have been very active in the Ranger Company at my school. Did a 12 mile ruck march test about two weeks ago and did it in 2 hours and 36 minutes with 55 pounds in my ruck. Finals are next week and then off for a month, time to pack on some serious mass!