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10 Tips for Cranking Out More Push-Ups on a Military PT Test

10 Tips for Cranking Out More Push-Ups on a Military PT Test

Once upon a time I HATED push-ups. And when I say I hated them, I mean I loathed them, and not in a love-to-hate kinda way. I just sucked at doing them.

But guess what?

Push-ups are by far my favorite exercise now, even over the squat, which says a lot coming from someone like me who lives for the power rack and sprints.


Push-ups are a total body movement, and I didn’t master the movement overnight. I learned the tricks of the push-up trade. After nine months in the Army ROTC program, here’s what I’ve learned that can help you perfect the form, get stronger and therefore crank out more push-ups.

I went from being able to do 25 push-ups in two minutes to being able to crank out 62 push-ups in two minutes on last month’s PT (physical training) test by using these techniques.

10 Tips for Cranking Out More Push-Ups on a Military PT Test from Hungry Gator Gal

Graphic by Brianna Kolota


1. Look straight ahead while performing the entire movement.

In other words, DO NOT look down at your hands!


2. Pull in your glutes.

a.k.a. Don’t sag in the middle or make yourself a tepee. Your body should look like one straight line from the heels to the top of your head.


3. Find the distance between your hands and feet that naturally allows you to perform the greatest number of push-ups . . .


4. . . . and change that stance when it becomes difficult.

Changing your stance will engage different muscle groups and will allow you to crank out a few more push-ups than you thought you had left in you.


5. Enagage your quads (a.k.a. the tops of your thighs) and push your heels backward.


6. Engage your core muscles (a.k.a. your abs).


7. Don’t forget to breathe.

You don’t want to pass out in the middle of a push-up, do you?!?


8. Take a 10-second break when you’re nearing complete muscle failure.

After your 10-second break, perform two or three push-ups and then break again for five seconds. Repeat this pattern of two or three push-ups followed by a five-second break until you can do no more push-ups or your time expires (if you’re being timed for a test).


9. Practice!

Basically every other day I crank out 100 to 200 push-ups. I usually complete it circuit style by alternating between 20 push-ups and a 1-minute rest. I do these push-ups a few hours before or after a workout to give my body enough time to rest.

Some days I go MUCH slower with these reps than I would during a test. Slowing the upward and downward motion of a push-up allows you to focus on form rather than speed and builds the muscles needed to push out as many reps as possible on test day.

Other days I focus on an explosive upward movement as I would during the test. This trains the muscles of your upper back for power and speed.

Note: If you can’t complete 20 push-ups in a row without resting, focus on doing 5, 10 or 15 at a time. Rest 1 or 2 minutes. Repeat as many times as possible.


10. Lift heavy things (body weight and added weight).

In addition to practicing straight push-ups for muscular endurance, I lift and pull heavy things.

I bench press or do incline presses. I do pull-ups. I perform military presses, goblet squats, dips, and biceps curls. In other words, I hit it all.

I like to stick with three or four sets of five heavy reps for each of the exercises. I focus on strength here as opposed to endurance with the 100 to 200 push-ups every other day.


That’s it!

Feel free to email me at if you have any questions related to Army ROTC, military PT training, or PT tests. I’d be happy to share my experience! 🙂



  1.  What’s your trick for performing as many push-ups as possible?


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Words can’t even begin to describe everything that’s happened since I last stopped in. A lot of good stuff. Some bad stuff. But that’s life, right?

The good . . . competing in the Army ROTC 6th Brigade Ranger Challenge competition!

Army ROTC Ranger Challenge Competition on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Taryn Boyer

Ruck running 30 miles in two days with added challenges along the way is, without a doubt, the most grueling thing I’ve ever done.

I’m SO grateful to have had the opportunity to compete as the only female from the University of Florida. My body literally ached from head to toe, and there were times when my mind told me to give up, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat if that meant I would work with eight of the kindest, strongest, most motivating guys around again.

Army ROTC Ranger Challenge Competition on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

I don’t remember running miles in the rain with gear in full combat uniform or the blisters on my feet. When I look at this patch, which I’ll wear on my uniform for the remainder of my ROTC career, I remember the laughs, the motivation, and the teamwork.

Army ROTC Ranger Challenge Competition on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

So what went wrong after the competition? Unfortunately, I walked, actually more like hobbled, away with a bum knee in addition to a cool patch and a t-shirt. The injury sidelined me from all high-intensity exercise for nearly all of February.

Boo injuries. 🙁

Despite the setback, it was almost a good thing I was injured. I focused on spending time with family and friends, recovering from two back-to-back colds and catching up with schoolwork. In addition, I learned a few valuable lessons that anyone who’s serious about exercise should pay attention to.

  1. Stretch or die.
  2. Don’t ramp up your routine too much, too hard and too fast.
  3. Embrace rest.

More to come about these topics in a separate post. For now, check out this AWESOME circuit I created on the fly while at home on spring break. It’s very back-to-the-basics and hits every major muscle group, if you perform the exercises correctly.

Check out the tutorials below this image if you’re unsure about how to do a particular exercise. As always, move as quickly as you can between exercises but rest as needed. I rested for 10 seconds between exercises and 1 minute between circuits.

5x5 Circuit Workout from Hungry Gator Gal

Exercise tutorials:

Did I mention the workout can be completed at home and requires only one piece of equipment? Gotta love a good garage workout with the pull-up bar.

P.S. The +Spotify “House Workout” playlist is killer. Give it a listen while you try this workout.

Until next time,
Brianna 😉



  1. What are your favorite at-home workouts? Links are always welcome. 🙂
  2. Do you own an at-home pull-up bar?


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5-4-3-2-1 Total Body Blast Workout (strength, cardio and stretching)

5-4-3-2-1 Total Body Blast Workout (strength, cardio and stretching)

This red, white and blue workout is my attempt at making exercise patriotic in honor of America’s birthday this week. 
5-4-3-2-1 Total Body Blast Workout from Hungry Gator Gal (strength, cardio and stretching)

Can you see the firework bursting in the background? It’s how your muscles will feel (i.e. ready to burst) after doing strength training, cardio and stretching in under an hour.

‘Murica. 😉


  1. How are you celebrating the Fourth of July?
  2. Do you work out on holidays? (I typically take the day off to spend time with family and friends.)

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Stadium Strength Circuits Workout

Stadium Strength Circuits Workout

Looking for a no-equipment workout that will leave your muscles twitching by the end? You’ve come to the right place.
Video demonstrations:

But really. This stadium strength circuits workout will kick your butt in the best way possible. I was gasping after the first circuit, and my glutes, quads and triceps were begging for mercy after circuits two and three. I used to take a stadium conditioning class every Tuesday but forgot how difficult it is!

With only one month until graduation, I’ll be taking advantage of the stadium while I have access to it. I’ll be doing this exact workout at 12:45 p.m. MONDAY at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium if you want to join me.

Message me on Facebook if you’re interested in coming. We can meet at the entrance to Student Rec. You can store your bags there and retrieve them when we finish.

I hope to see ya’ there! 🙂

Fun fact: Here at the University of Florida we have a special name for running up the bleachers to the top of the stadium: Gator mountains!


  1. Have you ever completed a stadium workout? 
  2. What’s your favorite no-equipment exercise? 

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Best At-Home Total Body Workouts for the Holidays

Best At-Home Total Body Workouts for the Holidays

Let’s be real. Sticking to a workout plan during the holiday season can be tough, even for the dedicated fitness fanatic.

Shopping, holiday parties (the food!) and travel seem to consume everyone’s lives at this time of year. If you’re in school like I am, final exams and projects are probably stressing you out too, which makes finding time to exercise even harder.

I’ve been working on a research paper and project for the past few days while spending time at home with my family. Although I don’t have access to a gym, I’ve managed to squeeze in a few at-home total body workouts, which you’ll find below.

I used my brother’s set of free weights for exercises like lunges, squats and rows. If you have adjustable weights or free weights, you’re good-to-go. If you don’t have weights, simply perform the exercise with body weight or see the modifications I listed below each workout.

Just because the workouts are completed at home doesn’t mean they’re easy. Have fun, and get ready to SWEAT! 🙂

Super Sweaty Tabata Supersets from Fit Fab Cities super sweaty tabata supersets 

Note: Use body weight. Also, do tricep dips using a chair instead of dumbbell rows if you don’t have weights.

20-Minute Hotel Room Workout from Peanut Butter Fingers 

20-Minute Hotel Room Workout

Note: Use free weights or body weight for squats and lunges. Also, you can do three rounds for 30 minutes total.

Pyramid Bootcamp Workout from Fit Fab Cities

pyramid bootcamp workout

Note: Use free weights for the lunges, if possible. Use body weight for the remaining exercises.

Ultimate Body Weight Circuit from Enjoy Your Healthy Life

Ultimate Body Weight Workout -can be done anywhere. #NoExcuses via @Annette Perkins-FitnessPerks 


What are some of your favorite at-home and/or body weight workouts?

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