Coast Guard PFTUpdated: May 23, 2021
What are the physical fitness standards required to join the United States Coast Guard? It can be tricky finding a definitive answer to this question without talking to a recruiter.
The published information online is hard to find, is often dated (one example on the Coast Guard official site is dated from 2009) and you will likely need to speak to a Coast Guard recruiter to learn what standards currently apply and which are no longer used.
Coast Guard Minimum Fitness Requirements
The most current guidance available from the Coast Guard official site lists the following basic fitness standards for Coast Guard members. What you see below is the minimum fitness requirement for all who graduate initial training in the Coast Guard:
The minimum standard for men is 29 push-ups in one minute. The minimum standard for women is 15 pushups in one minute. Coast Guard standards for push-ups include a specific approach and technique. In general you may be required to:
- On all fours, place hands approximately shoulder width apart and positioned directly beneath the shoulders
- Extend the legs straight back, supported by the balls of the feet
- The torso must be kept in a straight line
- “Smoothly bend the elbows and lower the body” as a single unit
- Push back up
- Arms should be fully extended without locking the elbows
Coast Guard training manuals state that to accomplish a “proper push-up”, the test-taker must “lower the body until the chest is within one fist distance of the deck, and then return to the up position.”
The minimum sit-up requirement for men is 38 in one minute. The minimum Coast Guard standard for women is 32 sit-ups in one minute.
Coast Guard standards for sit ups include allowing the feet to be anchored during the test. To perform a “correct” sit-up, the following must occur:
- Lie on your back
- Bend your knees
- Place heels flat on floor (roughly 18 inches away from buttocks)
- Fingers must be placed “loosely on side of head”
- Hands may not come off of side of head or the sit up does not count
- When in the “up” position, elbows will touch the knees, then return so that both shoulder blades are touching the deck
- Buttocks must not leave the deck
1.5 Mile Run
Men are required to run 1.5 miles no slower than 12:51 minutes. Women must complete the 1.5 mile run no slower than 15:26 minutes. Instructions to test administrators from Coast Guard training manuals indicate that the run must be conducted on the most level surfaces possible. This means your basic running endurance will be tested, rather than your ability to navigate steep or difficult terrain while running.
Men and women must jump from a 1.5 meter platform into the water to swim 100 meters unassisted.
Some sources list additional requirements for treading water and an exercise called Sit and Reach, which consists of a flexibility test where the test taker sits with feet and legs together. The test simply involves you reaching for your feet from this position. Some published sources mention a standard of 16.5 inches of flexibility for men and 19.29 inches of flexibility for women.
Test takers must participate in a mandatory cool-down period. This involves all participants being directed to walk slowly to recover for a five minute period.
Coast Guard Fitness Test Pre-Screening
Some Coast Guard training manuals reference a required pre-screening before a PFT can be administered.
This may be applicable for those who are enrolled in body composition programs or other Coast Guard fitness plans. In such cases, a medical pre-screening may be required and, “a Coast Guard IDHS or Medical Officer must clear the member to take the PFT”. In cases where the test taker cannot pass the pre-screening, they may not be allowed to take the test.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News