I'm trying to join the Canadian military, and need to pass the FORCE fitness test. I have never really kept up on my fitness, and for the test, I need to be able to do

  • Sandbag Lift: 30 consecutive lifts of a 20 kilogram sandbag above a height of 1 metre, alternating between left and right sandbags separated by 1.25 metres. Standard: 3 minutes 30 seconds.

  • Intermittent Loaded Shuttles: Using the 20 metre lines, complete ten 20 metre shuttles alternating between a loaded shuttle with a 20 kilogram sand bag and unloaded shuttles, for a total of 400 metres. Standard: 5 minutes 21 seconds.

  • 20-Metre Rushes: Starting from prone, complete two 20 metre shuttle sprints dropping to a prone position every 10 metres, for a total of 80 metres. Standard: 51 seconds.

  • Sandbag Drag: Carry one 20 kilogram sandbag and pull four on the floor over 20 metres without stopping. Standard: Complete without stopping

What would the best exercises to start with to be able to work out for this? I'm training for it at home I'm not going to get a gym membership because I will be getting one through school when it starts up. At home I have a barbell, and a dumbbell with the equivalent of 135 pounds of plates. (I have so many because I bought them both used, and they both came with their own sets of plates.)

2 Answers 2


First of all, these tests are definitely not limited to upper body strength. In fact, lifting and carrying heavy weights require very strong legs and lower back.

Assuming you have at least 3 months of preparation, I strongly suggest following some strength training plan such as Starting Strength, StrongLifts 5x5, etc. These strength plans for novices may help you increase your overall strength significantly in a pretty short time, and since the tests you mentioned are consisted of short & concentrated challenges rather than endurance challenges, I think that this will be the best approach.

  • 2
    3 months would probably be better spent doing exercises that mirror or mimic the test. Practising the test will make passing it easier
    – John
    Aug 21, 2016 at 16:48
  • @JJosaur Maybe, maybe not. Just because the exercises require strength doesn't mean they are suitable training programs to adapt the body to have that strength (Cough... Crossfit). My goal is 1RMs, but that's not a training program.
    – Nathan
    Sep 22, 2016 at 21:10
  • If you want to get good (find it easy) at carrying a sandbag, surprisingly enough the best way to train that is to go carry a sandbag
    – John
    Sep 23, 2016 at 6:44

If you have 3 months and aren't currently doing any strength training, just join a gym and undertake the Stronglifts 5x5 program. On your off days, go for a run and do some burpees.

For a beginner, a program like Stronglifts is very effective and is very easy to follow. Three months of that, and you'll be amazed how much stronger you are.

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