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Situation
42 year old male, not in terrible shape, but definitely got a case of "Dad bod" going on.

Goal
Accomplish something I never did when I was in the Army: max the Army Physical Fitness Test.
Specifically:

  • 82 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • 92 sit-ups in 2 minutes
  • 2 mile run in 11:54 or less

Plan
Workout daily (6x/week)

  • 50 minutes interval training on elliptical machine, increasing elevation and resistance ever two weeks.

  • Running on treadmill at 10.1 mph pace. Starting at minute and thirty seconds, increasing duration by 3 seconds per day

  • 3 sets (at least) of push-ups per day. Starting at 23 reps per set increasing by 1 rep every week.

  • 3 sets (at least) of sit-ups per day. Starting at 33 reps per set increasing by 1 rep every week.

  • 3 sets (at least) of chin-ups per day. Starting at 2 reps per set increasing by 1 rep every week.

Addition Info
I actually started a few weeks ago, so I am currently at the levels I listed here. Not sure about the increase on chin-ups. Maybe I should adjust how often I increase or set a max. Sets of 50+ chin-ups a year from now sounds awfully high.

  • Your question is asking for someone to speculate on whether you will be successful. Unfortunately, that type of response is off topic on this site. – rrirower Jan 6 '17 at 22:39
  • No, I'm not asking for speculation on whether I will achieve it. That will, obviously, depend largely on my dedication and effort. What I'm asking is if the stated goals are reasonable and whether my plan, should I stick to it, will get me there. – Kevin Jan 6 '17 at 22:55
  • Any response to your question would be an opinion and not based on fact or science. – rrirower Jan 6 '17 at 22:57
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    Before asking if it's possible, you should ask yourself "why". I can understand the appeal of laying claim to acing a physical test in your 40's that some guys in the defense force would struggle with, but don't begin from the assumption that it's a good or even very relevant test in the first place. Many things happen to stick around by tradition more than intrinsic value. The reason I'm saying this is that from personal experience I can say high-rep sit-ups aren't good for the spine. And the sit-up is coming under increasing scrutiny as a useful exercise in the test. – G_H Jan 10 '17 at 13:12
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    I am wondering why the close votes. This is squarely on topic. He presents a definite goal, and a current workout plan. The only thing he is a little vague on is what feedback he is looking for. See: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/7059/… and fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/14167/… as well as several other "rate my workout" questions. – JohnP Jan 16 '17 at 17:12
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Whether you achieve the goal is speculative. If you have already tried to achieve the goal when you were younger (consistent workout over at least a year) and failed it might be indication that it is not possible for you, but not necessarily so.

As for the training, following advice:

Running (2 mile run in 11:54 or less)

Definitely possible in general. In your particular case, we would need to know your current 2 mile, 5 mile and maybe 1/2 mile times. As for the training, I would skip the elliptical machine. It is often argued (see for example, here) that the best way to improve your running is by running. Instead, do 50 minutes of slow and comfortable running once a week. This will have the same effect on your cardiovascular system as the elliptical machine but also get you used to the movement patterns. It is important that you do not worry/plan increasing speed or duration here too much because it will come very naturally soon. In addition, and instead of

Starting at minute and thirty seconds, increasing duration by 3 seconds per day

I recommend doing one interval day per week. Say 8 times running 400m at 6 minutes/mile (if you can already do that, otherwise start slower) with slow running breaks of a minute in between. Every other week, do 4 intervals a 800m (a bit slower). If you can tell me your current 400/800m interval times, I will edit the post.

If you can add a third running day, it would obviously help but that's something you personally have to decide. In case, you have the time go for a second slow 50 minute run.

Push-ups and Sit-ups

Seems generally possible but something most people would not want to achieve because after a time you only train the endurance of your muscles. If you can already do 23 push-ups and 33 sit-ups, it will only be a matter of increasing the number of repetitions. Your plan seems reasonable here. If you get to a plateau after a while try adding some weights and do lower repetitions once in a while. (Still, I am not an expert for high-repetition of push-ups or sit-ups, so let's see what others can add to that.)

Chin-ups

You did not provide any goal for the chin-ups. Please do so, and I will update my post. In any case, be aware that adding one chin-up every week should work very well in the beginning but the plateau effect comes much earlier than for push-ups or sit-ups. Anything above 10/15 seems like a reasonable goal, above 20 seems rather unrealistic.

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  • Thanks for the advice. I never really tried to achieve this when I was in the Army. I frequently hit the sit-up goal and occasionally the push-up goal, but I never liked running and only did it when it was required. – Kevin Jan 7 '17 at 14:45
  • Fair enough. If you've reached some of these goals already, it will be possible again. From my perspective (I am a runner..), the running goal is actually by far the easiest. If you work consistently, you will definitely get there. – eigenvector Jan 7 '17 at 17:23
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First of all, thank you for your service.

It's very hard to gauge the effectiveness of a plan like this without more information about you (different bodies respond differently to the same workout) and without more specific information of the time frame of your workouts. When you say "3 sets...per day," there is a big difference between doing three sets four hours apart from each other and doing three sets sixty seconds apart.

It's also important to test your max for each event. If your listed starting points are your event max's, it would be ineffective to max out every day or even three times a day.

I understand this is more a comment than an answer, but I only recently joined and do not have enough reputation to post a comment yet.

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  • Not 4 hours apart, but pretty well spaced (probably 30+ minutes between). The push-ups, sit-ups and elliptical numbers are not max, but the chin-ups definitely are. Run time at that speed is max, but I'm doing it immediately after 50 minutes of elliptical. Also, I'm 6'0", 210lbs – Kevin Jan 7 '17 at 6:41
  • 30 minutes in between sets gives your muscles too much time to recover and prevents them from attaining the necessary fatigue that causes change. One possible alteration I would recommend is 4 sets of 1/2 your max with 60 seconds of rest between sets. The first two sets may feel easy, so ensure proper form and you can hold at the top of your push-ups and bottom of your pull-ups for a few seconds. – jeremye Jan 7 '17 at 6:56

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