Attention Cadets:  As part of your Challenge Improvement Plan, make sure that you run and do the V-sit reach Monday through Thursday.  You will need to do your push-ups and curl-ups Tuesday and Thursday.  We will do pull-ups and the shuttle run on Friday during Company P.T.  also, make sure you record your progress on the form provided by your company.


The Cadet Challenge is the physical fitness test facilitated by the United States Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps for high school aged people.  It provides an introduction to the necessary behavior required to achieve specific goals regarding your physical fitness.  Prepare for the challenge by following specific steps that will allow you to improve your score, discover the benefits of exercise and discipline, and excel while competing in the JROTC Cadet Challenge. 

Our Physical Training Program conducted at the Red Rebel Battalion Headquarters facility during school hours cannot adequately prepare you to excel on the Cadet Challenge.  You must supplement our training at the school with your own program at home.  When used correctly, The Red Rebel Cadet Challenge Exportable Training Program will prepare you to do your personal best on the Cadet Challenge.

Train for Every Component of the Cadet Challenge

  • Work out for about 30 minutes at least three times a week. Consistency in your workout regimen is vital.  At minimum, make sure you’re practicing the specific skills needed to pass the challenge three times a week.  These should be done in addition to other weekly workouts.  In roughly half an hour, you can warm up, work at a competitive pace, and cool down. 

  • Include aerobic and anaerobic exercises in your workouts, as well as muscle strengthening exercise and stretching.

  •  Warm up for a workout for 5 to 7 minutes. Spend a few minutes stretching your muscles and joints to prepare for a safe and productive workout. Immediately preceding whatever specific exercise you’re about to perform, go through the motions at a moderate pace.  See the section of stretching for specific stretches you can incorporate into your work out.

  •  Condition for 20 full minutes. Aerobic, anaerobic, and strengthening exercises should be completed during this period. These will help prepare you for the endurance, speed, and strength-related components of the challenge. Be sure to take specific steps to improve your ability to excel in each exercise of the challenge.


  • When practicing sit ups, have an exercise partner hold your feet to help you hold your position and get the most out of the workout.

  • When practicing the v-sit reach, have a partner gently hold each of your legs flat while reaching forward.

  • Modified or alternative exercises can be included in the challenge for cadets with particular needs or abilities.

Stretching to Condition Muscles and Prevent Injury

  • Stretch carefully before and after every workout.  After you’ve warmed up and your muscles are feeling limber and engaged, stretch to help prevent injuries.  Avoid stretching before you’ve warmed up, as it is not only ineffective, but potentially harmful.

  • Never rush a stretch.  Schedule and use a full few minutes to stretch out the muscle groups you’ll be working out.  

  • Avoid “bouncing” while stretching.  Allowing yourself to bounce in and out of a stretch can tear muscle fibers detrimentally.   

  • Stretch out the side of your body.  Stand with your feet apart and your knees bent.  Put one hand on your hip, and extend your other hand all the way overhead, reaching as far across as you are able.  Hold this stretch for 15 seconds, and then repeat it on the other side.

  • Do five repetitions of this stretch on each side. 

  • If you cannot hold the stretch for 15 seconds for 5 reps, start slowly with 2 or 3 reps on each side. 

  • Do a hand grasp stretch.  To stretch a bunch of your muscles at once, clasp your hands behind your back and keep them clasped.  Standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees bent, lean forward from the waist.  Lift your arms backwards and upwards towards your head.

  • Hold the stretch for 15 seconds. Do five repetitions, or as many as you are able. 

  • Get your lower back limbered up.  Extend your legs straight out while lying on your back. Bring one knee all the way up to your chest.  Pull the leg closer to your chest with your hands on your hamstring just above the back of the knee. Once your leg is pulled up, roll your shoulders slowly forward towards your knee.

  • Do five repetitions of this stretch for each leg.  

  • If you cannot hold the stretch for 15 seconds for 5 reps on each leg, start with 2 or 3 reps on each side. 

  • Stretch your calves. Stand with one of your legs in front of the other and your hands on your hips.  Lean your upper body forward, bending your front knee and putting your weight on your forward foot.  Extend the rear leg straight back.  Keep you back toe on the ground; your heel will naturally rise off the ground.  To stretch the calve of the back leg, push that foot’s heel to the ground and hold for 15 seconds.

  • Do five repetitions of this stretch for each calve. 

  • If you cannot hold the stretch for 15 seconds for 5 reps on both calves, start with 2 or 3 reps on each side. 

  • Keep your hamstrings stretched out.  Sit on the floor with your back straight and your legs outstretched in front of you, toes upward.  Pull one foot in towards your groin, tucking the sole of your foot against the inside of your other thigh.  Bend at your waist over the outstretched leg, sliding your hands down your leg until you’re feeling the stretch.

  • Hold the stretch for 15 seconds and do it twice for each leg. 

 Familiarizing Yourself with the Parameters

    of the JROTC Cadet Challenge

  • Recognize the goals of the challenge.  The preparation required to achieve success on the Cadet Challenge is meant to familiarize you with the process of maintaining a physical fitness regimen.  The specific components of the challenge are selected to reflect your development of strength, cardio-vascular endurance, flexibility, agility, and speed.  Success on the challenge indicates your ability to maintain a healthy physical condition – a necessary component of personal growth and healthy adulthood.

  • Understand the scoring rubric for the Cadet Challenge. While your particular organization may require you to achieve certain marks for advancement or other achievements, national JROTC awards are determined on a percentile basis. The Cadet Challenge follows the benchmarks to earn The Presidential Physical Fitness Award. To earn this award, you’ll need to score in the 85th percentile or above on all five exercises included in the challenge.  The National Physical Fitness Award is earned by scoring in the top 50 percent of each category.

  • Focus on improvement at first. When you first begin training for the Cadet Challenge, do not worry about your initial scores.  Monitor your times, etc., in order to set goals for improvement and recognize personal achievements as you approach them.

Record your progress

  • Record your scores for each exercise each time your practice.  

  • Set specific goals to achieve for each exercise.  Use the expected 85th percentile marks as especially significant goals to shoot for, though these don’t need to be your initial goals.  

  • Get more detailed explanations of each exercise from a JROTC-affiliated publication, many of which are available online.  Furthermore, electronic and printable forms are available online to help you keep track of your training regimen and progress towards your goals. 

  • Shoot for competitive mile and shuttle run times. For the shuttle run, boys of 16-17 years of age will likely need to complete a shuttle run in 8.7 seconds to match the 85th percentile, and the mile in about 6 minutes and 6 seconds.  Girls of the same age will need to complete the shuttle run in about 10 seconds, and the mile in under 8 minutes and 20 seconds.

  • For the shuttle run, you will be allowed to run twice, with the better of your two scores being used as your official score.  

  • Know the necessary number of curl ups and pull ups you’ll need to complete. 17-year-old boys will need to complete around 55 curl ups in 60 seconds to score in the 85th percentile, while girls of the same age will need to complete around 44.  17-year-old boys will likely need to be able to complete 13 pull ups to score in the 85th percentile.  17-year-old girls will likely achieve this percentile with 1 pull up.

  • Work to improve your flexibility. This can be an especially challenging exercise, so don’t overlook stretching. 17-year-old boys who score in the 85th percentile of the V-sit reach usually attain a score of 7 inches.  Girls of the same age and percentile usually reach 8 inches.