Optimizing the Air Force Fitness test

At the start of every Air Force fitness test you see any number of airmen nervously looking over the scorecards to ensure they know the minimum number they need to pass in the next up category.  Meanwhile I’m looking at it thinking how stupid it is that I have to go from 52 to 57 pushups in a minute just to get that last half point to take me from a 99.5 to 100. 

Because I am who I am, I broke it down into a spreadsheet for you below.  I’ve only scratched my own itch and completed it for my age/gender.  If anyone ever reads this and comments they want it done for other groups I’ll update.    

In light blue is the score the Air Force recommends in each category to get your passing 75.  In the medium blue is what I recommend as an optimal score for a 75.  In dark blue is optimal score for a 90. 

The optimal scores are based on points per unit of exercise (second of running, pushup, sit up, ½ inch of waist).  It doesn’t take into account personal ability.  For example, I’m long and lean and a much better runner than pushupper so it’s easier for me to make up points on the run than the pushups. 

The waist measurement has the highest payoff in terms of value but is probably the most difficult to improve. 

What’s interesting and not that surprising about this analysis is the seemingly random values assigned to each.  Most notably in pushups you have to make it all the way from 52 to 57 to earn what would be your 0.1 per pushup, otherwise they are lost.  This has led me to be content at 52 pushups and settle for my 99.5 score.  I’ll get back to 100 when I turn 40. 

Take a look at your score chart and see if there are any opportunities for you.  In fact, get in the habit of looking deeply into many things around you – many things just won’t make sense.  Use your knowledge of that to your advantage.   

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