Could You Pass The Navy Fitness Tests?

Introduction | Navy fitness tests | The Royal Navy PJFT | 6-Week Training Programme | Navy Fitness FAQ

A group of recruits taking part in a Royal Navy workout as part of the PJFT.

The Navy fitness tests form a primary component of the recruitment process. To join the Navy and become a serving member of this prestigious military organisation, you will have to pass all aspects of the fitness tests.


This article provides a comprehensive outline of the Navy fitness tests, including attainment levels and achievement requirements.


In addition, for those who harbour aspirations of joining the Navy, and thus must pass the fitness tests at some point in the future, we have included training advice and a comprehensive 6-Week Exercise Programme.

What are the Navy fitness tests?

Before you can gain admission into the Navy training program, you will have to pass a series of pre-joining fitness tests (PJFT). These tests are designed to ascertain if potential recruits possess the physical ability to endure the rigours of basic military training.


All aspirant recruits must pass the pre-joining fitness tests and there is no compromise. If a recruit is a second outside the time, they fail. But, as it says on the website, ‘we are not looking for Olympic athletes, simply to ascertain you are suitably prepared and ready to commence your Royal Navy journey.’


The fitness tests include:

The navy 1.5 mile run

  • 5 mile (2.4k) run (15 – 24-year-olds must complete the distance in 12:16 – the time increases for different age categories.

Other navy physical training tests

  • Press-ups in 2-minutes (best effort: perform as many full press-ups as you possible can in 120 seconds; ideally you should aim for over 50reps)

  • Sit-ups in 2-minutes (best effort: perform as many full sit-ups as you possible can in 120 seconds; ideally you should aim for over 50reps)

But what is the royal navy PJFT?

The PJFT, or pre-joining fitness tests, is a mandatory component of the recruitment process. To gain admittance to basic training, where the real hard work begins, you will have to complete the PJFT.


On the Navy website it identifies the pre-joining fitness test as ‘the first step to the joining process.’ These tests have been implemented to reflect the demands of the job. ‘Physical fitness is an essential part of being in the Royal Navy, the day-to-day is physically demanding and so the joining process assists recruits in preparing for initial training and life in the Royal Naval Service.’

Pre-Joining Fitness Test

The Navy’s overview of the PJFT is as follows:

  • For the PJFT, you’ll need to complete a 2.4km run on a treadmill, where you will be expected to push yourself to produce your best effort.

  • Those applying to the Diver Branch will have to complete the run in 10 minutes 30 seconds regardless of age.

  • If you’re going to excel at the PJFT (and in your initial training), it’s critical that you get in the best possible physical condition. (The Hungry4Fitness 6-Week Exercise Programme below can help you get into shape for the tests.)

Why the Navy has fitness tests

Serving members of Navy are about to take part in a swimming tests.

Unlike ‘civilian’ jobs, workplace tasks in the military can be extremely demanding. When on tour or engaging in operations, military personnel are expected to perform to the highest standards, often under stressful and physically challenging conditions.


They achieve this through extensive skill-based training and maintaining a high level of fitness.


To meet the arduous demands of the job, serving members of the military must develop and maintain above-average levels of strength, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular fitness.


It’s for this reason why the Navy, and all other military groups, require that prospective recruits complete a series of fitness tests. For not only is military basic training gruelling, but the job afterward can be as well.


As it says on their website, ‘Life in the Royal Navy is wide-ranging and incredibly varied, and therefore requires a good level of physical fitness.’


Related: discover the Power of Fitness Testing

Do I have to be super-fit for the Navy fitness tests?

No, you don’t have to be super fit for the Navy fitness tests. This fact is made explicit on the Navy’s website. Though military life can be challenging, both physically and mentally, ‘that doesn’t mean you have to be an athlete to start the recruitment process.’


If you regularly engage in a variety of physical activities and play sport, it’s likely that you are already capable of achieving the physical standards required to pass the tests. And if not, the 6-Week Exercise Programme below will help you prepare.


Related: if you ever need workout ideas, see our Fitness Page

How to prepare for the navy fitness tests

Navy recruits being put through their paces in the pre-joining fitness tests.

To prepare for the Royal Navy fitness tests you will need to develop functional strength, muscular and cardiovascular endurance. If you harbour aspirations of joining the Royal Navy, you will have to complete the pre-joining fitness test at some point in the future.


Thus, you must be able to cover the distance of 1.5-miles in under 12:15. In addition, you will also need to maintain a relatively high physical output for extensive periods of time.


A typical military workout can last for up to 1.5-hours. During that time, recruits will be required to perform a range of physical exercises such as running, sprints, and many different bodyweight exercises: press-ups, sit-ups, burpees, and pull-ups.


In order to meet these demands, you will need to undertake an exercise programme that reflects and replicates military fitness training. Additionally, depending on your current level of fitness, you should spend at least 6-weeks preparing for the PJFT.

Get fit for the PJFT with circuit training

Arguably the best way to prepare for the PJFT and military workouts is to engage in circuit training. The reason being is because circuit training enables you to group multiple different exercises into one workout.


Furthermore, the circuit training methodology, high-intensity coupled with short rest periods, closely emulates military-style workouts. Also, you can include in your circuits specific muscular endurance exercises that feature in the PJFT. This will provide you with ample opportunity to improve your fitness for the tests.


Related: learn everything you need to know about How to Design a Circuit

Other beneficial training methods that can help you prepare for the navy fitness tests include:

  • High-intensity interval training (otherwise known as ‘HIIT’): HIIT helps to promote cardio fitness, stamina and muscular endurance. A HIIT workout can be specific, such as a series of hill sprints, or factored into a circuit or bolted on to the end of a long run.

  • Continuous training: to build a solid cardio base that will help you breeze the 1.5-mile run, you need to start running regularly. Two to three long slow jogs will develop stamina in the legs while also improving your cardio-respiratory capacity.

  • Resistance training: the majority of military training sessions take place either in large sports halls or outside in the elements. Consequently, there’s little need to develop big muscles in preparation for the PJFT. In fact, an overly muscled physique could impede performance as it requires lots more energy to fuel. It’s for this reason why resistance training should only form a fraction of your pre-joining training routine. And any resistance exercises that you engage in, should be functional, whole-body movements.

6-Week Exercise Programme

To help you implement a training routine and get started, we’ve created a basic 6-Week Exercise Programme. The Programme has been designed, specifically, to develop muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness.


Comprised primarily of circuits and continuous training, our 6-Week Exercise Programme can support you in preparation for the PJFT. Furthermore, the Programme is completely modifiable. By this we mean all exercises and workouts can be adapted, altered, or replaced.


6-Week Exercise Programme
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Download PDF • 430KB

royal navy fitness FAQ

Here we've answered a few frequently asked questions regarding the Royal Navy fitness tests and training. If you have any questions that do not feature in the following FAQ, pop in the comments box below and we'll endeavour to include them.


What should I expect in a navy workout

Few people realise that military workouts are comprised of simple, functional exercises, many of which require no equipment to perform. Other than a bar to do pull-ups on, little to no other equipment is used.


The majority of military workouts take place outside, usually on a field or, if you’re lucky, a patch of Astroturf. Sometimes recruits are put through their paces in a sports hall where they will engage in team-orientated circuits.


A classic military-style circuit may be organised as follows:

  • After a 10- to 15-minute progressive warm-up, recruits are arranged into groups of three and assigned a number: 1 – 2 – 3

  • Number 1 will sprint a pre-set distance of 100-metres (50m out/50m back)

  • Meanwhile, number 2 is performing a bodyweight exercise – such as press-ups

  • Number 3 is resting.

  • When number 1 gets back from the sprint, she replaces number 3 who in turn replaces number 2 who in turn replaces number 1.

  • Now number 1 is resting, 2 is sprinting, and 3 is performing press-ups.

  • The team continue in this fashion until they have all completed 10 sprints each

  • This circuit is called Work, Rest, and Play!

What’s Navy fitness training like?

For the untrained, Royal Navy fitness training would be prohibitively difficult. To survive a military workout, you will need above-average strength, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular fitness.


These physical attributes will enable you to sustain the high-intensity output expected from recruits. But in addition to being physically prepared, you also need to be mentally prepared as well.


Enduring the rigours of Navy basic training requires more than muscle alone. The oft-overlooked necessity to develop mental toughness has led to many recruits quitting.


Combined, physical fitness and mental toughness will enable you to overcome grueling workouts, sleep deprivation, and long absences from friends and family. All hallmarks of Navy training.


Good luck!


In this blog bio it says: (As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)  https://www.hungry4fitness.co.uk/  Blog Author Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.  https://www.hungry4fitness.co.uk/about-us

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