US military revises physical fitness test for first time since 1980



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The U.S. military’s physical fitness test (PFT) has remained the same for over 30 years. Since 1980, the selection process that all applicants must pass to be considered fit for active duty has consisted of two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a three-kilometer run.

While long regarded as an appropriate assessment of cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance (which has also led to PFT becoming a popular challenge among YouTubers, athletes and fitness influencers), it has since been tried insufficient to measure important aspects of military training. “This test measured endurance but failed to assess strength, power, speed and agility, which are all equally critical on the battlefield,” said Michael McGurk, chief executive officer of research and analysis at the US Army Center for Initial Military Training, in 2018.

A new combat aptitude test was first devised three years ago, but its implementation has been delayed in the armed forces due to concerns about the suitability of some exercises, as well as delays associated with the pandemic. It is now expected to become the official military fitness standard in spring 2022, Bloomberg reports.

The Combat Aptitude Test, which was designed to provide a more comprehensive measure of the type of upper body and core strength required in modern warfare, includes:

  • deadlift max 3 reps
  • Standing medicine ball
  • Manual release pumps
  • Sprint, drag, drill holder
  • Folded legs or planks
  • 2 mile run

    Kevin Bigelman, Director of Fitness and Holistic Health in the United States. The Army Initial Military Training Center at Fort Eustis, Va., Describes the new test to be equivalent to “what has been the gold standard in professional and college sports for a number of years.”

    “I’m not saying every soldier is a world class athlete,” he said, “but they should be treated like an athlete and cared for like an athlete because the soldier is a physical profession.”

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