After 2011, the Army's physical fitness test will be geared to encompass a wider variety and stronger combination of functionally relevant movements, making soldiers more combat-ready.
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Army Strong Fitness Tests

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"Army Strong" is becoming even stronger. After 2011, the Army's physical fitness test will be geared to encompass a wider variety and stronger combination of functionally relevant movements, making soldiers more combat-ready. Soldiers take the Army Physical Fitness Test annually, and before attending some Army schools.

SOLDIERS SPEAK UP FOR PHYSICAL FITNESS

Army PT doctrine and testing, unchanged since 1980, had long been outpaced by training advances in the civilian world; by 2010 it was time for the Army to move ahead. Soldiers want an Army Physical Fitness Test that will best prepare them for the job at hand, be it in combat zones or on base.

In addition, technology changed the battlefield. While some combat training should be reserved for specialized units, all soldiers need to be physically fit whether they are patrolling in full gear or watching a computer screen - both equally important functions.

Some of the changes for the new PT test include:

-- Adding pull-ups
-- Adding crunches
-- Eliminating sit-ups and substituting crunches
-- Adding shuttle runs or a road march
-- Requiring workouts in combat gear, instead of PT clothes

The new doctrine is part of a larger effort to develop an Army of more physically fit soldiers.

RUSSIAN PHYSICAL FITNESS

Some in the military still advocate an occupational PT test resembling the Russian military's PT, which is more suited to battlefield skills. The Russian PT included an obstacle course, a six-mile run in 20 pounds of combat gear, chin-ups while carrying ammunition, a rope climb without using legs, a grenade throw and a hand-to-hand combat drill.

PUSH, PULL, CRUNCH

Push-ups are still popular and soldiers want to see pull ups added to the fitness test; body-weight exercises gauge a soldier's ability to pull himself over an obstacle or carry a wounded buddy.

Push-ups test the strength needed to get out of a foxhole or push off the ground, and to quickly get out of prone and into running which takes muscular strength from the chest, shoulder and triceps muscle groups.

SOLDIERS AND BACK INJURIES

Many army soldiers experience back injuries attributed to the sit-up event. Sit ups can strain the lower spinal disks and risk disk herniation, particularly in soldiers predisposed to back injury. One popular suggestion: substituting sit-ups for crunches, which soldiers felt would still test needed core body strength, yet result in fewer back injuries.

RUN TOUGH

Many soldiers want a PT run that is more tactically relevant. Some felt combat situations demand more sprinting, others favor long, endurance-testing runs or marches. Soldiers want to cut the run from two miles to one mile and raising standards for time.

BOOTS AND BODY ARMOR

Soldiers also say that wearing boots, a combat uniform, and possibly a rucksack or body armor throughout the test, best replicates fighting conditions. Doing the training in combat gear would then be a good assessment of how you'd perform in combat, the soldiers noted.

Since 1980, Army Physical Fitness Test scores measured sit-ups and push-ups done in two minutes, and soldiers' performance on a two-mile run. These test scores, scaled by age, required a minimum score of 60 per event. By 2011, the Army Physical Fitness Test will be a broader measure of a soldier's complete physical readiness for his or her mission.



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