What to Do If You Fail a Record APFT

If you are currently serving in the Army National Guard or Army Reserves and you fail your record APFT, I have some suggestions for you.  These are things you can do to get yourself back in shape and get your career back on track as quickly as possible.

# 1 Man Up (or Woman Up)

The first thing you need to do if you fail a record APFT is man up or woman up!  Don’t place the blame on anyone else.  I know it’s the American way, but do the right thing and accept responsibility for your actions and performance.  Realize that you are the problem.  Look yourself in the mirror and accept the fact that it’s your responsibility to stay in shape.

# 2 Ask for Help

As Soldiers, we are taught to be tough.  While that has its merits in most cases, I personally don’t believe there’s anything wrong with asking for help, especially when you need it.  If you struggle with your weight, visit a dietitian, or your doctor.  If you aren’t good at the exercises on the APFT, hire a personal trainer and create a customized fitness plan.  If you don’t do either of those things, at least sit down and talk with your supervisor, a trusted peer or someone who consistently maxes their APFT.  Ask them for some helpful tips.  If you need to find a workout buddy to keep you accountable, do it!

# 3 Create an Exercise Schedule

As a Citizen Soldier, you only do Army training 2-3 days each month.  The other 28 days, it’s up to you to exercise on your own and stay in shape.  I’ve found that most people don’t want to exercise after they come home from a long day at work.  If that describes you, you need to create an exercise schedule that works for you. Schedule time in your day planner and “to do” list covering when you will workout each day.  Either wake up 30 minutes early to exercise, do it on your lunch-break, or schedule it in at night.  Just find something that works for you, create the schedule and stick with.  You have to make exercise a daily discipline so it becomes a habit.  Otherwise, you will revert back to your slacker ways.

# 4 Prepare for Your Next APFT

After you fail a record APFT you normally have 30 days to take your next one.  I’ve personally known plenty of people who got prepared for an APFT in just 30 days.  During the next 30 days, make it a point to practice the push-ups, sit-ups and the 2-mile run.  Sure, you can do other exercises too, but your best approach is to train for the actual events.  Take a diagnostic APFT half way through the month to measure your progress and make any necessary adjustments.

Final Thoughts

In summary, these are four simple things you can do if you fail your record APFT.  While you might temporarily be FLAGGED for your poor performance, you can turn the negative experience into an inner motivation that makes you a better Soldier, person and leader.

What are your thoughts?  What tips do you have for people who fail a record APFT?  Leave a comment and let us know.  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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13 thoughts on “What to Do If You Fail a Record APFT”

  1. These are great tips for anyone looking to get back into peak fitness, not just members of the military, but civilians as well. I especially like that you recommend asking for help and reaching out to a professional in order to reach your goals. Setting aside time to devote to exercising is important as well, I hate working out in the gym, but I’ll hike just about anywhere to meet a friend for lunch – figure out ways to make exercising fun and challenging.

  2. If you fail a record APFT you need to man up and accept responsibility. Do a gut check, create a program to get back in shape, and take another APFT as quickly as possible.

  3. The best thing you can do if you fail a record APFT is man up and take your next test as quickly as possible. Work hard in between the two APFTs and get a passing score as quickly as you can. Show that you are serious and learned from your mistakes.

    1. Candace Ginestar

      Jenny, this is a great point. If you do fail, as long as you are close, you should be able to take another one soon. If you fail miserably, at least coming up with a plan with your leadership and working towards passing asap, will be a great thing.

  4. Chuck,
    Some Soldiers may not be aware that failure of two record APFTs can result in the Soldier being separated from the service. I would strongly encourage all Soldiers to read AR 350-1 paragraph 1-24, Appendix G, paragraph G-9 of AR 350-1, and Appendix A of FM 7-22. These references will provide Soldiers and Leaders with the specifics they need to be aware of their duties and responsibilities concerning taking and administering the APFT.
    A smart NCO once told me “SGT G if you plan on staying in the Army you better know what they can and CAN’T do to you….Read and know Army regulation and policy…” His advice served me well during my career.


    1. Candace Ginestar

      This is great advice. I recommend including this paragraph in any counseling you give, to help solidify your plan of action. If we inform them of what we can do, and that it could translate into what we WILL do, they might take it more seriously.

  5. #1 and #4 are key here, Chuck. First off, many Soldiers have not a clue what it means to TRULY push themselves. Our unit just took our APFT and there are a ton of Soldiers who failed the run by about 10-20 seconds. To me, that’s sad to miss the APFT by that. Some Soldiers just have no heart or problem failing. Secondly, #4 is a great tip because you must ALWAYS be preparing for the APFT. In my opinion, you should be able to pass an APFT at ANY POINT AND TIME that you are asked to.

      1. I think the best tool for the company is having a APFT/PT policy and utilizing a Unit Master Fitness Trainer (i.e. ME) to ensure that all Soldiers are meeting the standard and those that aren’t are flagged, counseled and properly re-trained so that they can meet the standard… Our structure is our CO, 1SG, myself and a PLT SGT that support these efforts. Works well for us…

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