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Tactical Fitness: Remedial PT Ideas for Weekend Reservists

Tactical Fitness: Reservist exercise.

When you fail a fitness test or body fat measurement for your height and weight in the Army Reserves or National Guard, often you will be placed in some form of Remedial PT program where you will spend some of your "free" time doing exercise workouts. Some commands may place the burden solely on you to figure out how to pass the next fitness test. Here is a proactive Army Reservist asking about a plan ahead of fitness test weekend:

Mr. Smith,

Hello –

I am an Army Reservist. Our unit has had an ongoing issue with soldiers not passing the APFT. This last week, during a meeting, we were discussing ways to remedy the problem and it was decided I should put together a remedial PT program. 

In my search for information on how to run a remedial PT program, I have read many of your articles and have found them very helpful. I do have a question, and I would appreciate your advice. Next month we have the APFT on Saturday and I am supposed to conduct remedial PT for those who failed on Sunday. Many of the soldiers who will be in this group will be very sore from the APFT and I do not want them to injure themselves. Do you have any suggestions for a workout session after an APFT? Honestly I am considering yoga, but I am not sure how the command will understand why the remedial PT group is doing yoga. 

Is this a good idea?

Way to be proactive with handling a problem with some forethought before the event occurs.

First, I would start training immediately for the next few weeks. You might be able to save a few borderline failures from failing. Check out this article for some group PT ideas as well as some PFT Taking Tips (running tips).

For people who need to focus on weight loss as well as getting in better shape to pass the PFT, check out this article: Remedial Training – Foundation Building

As you can see from the links I shared, you are not alone with these problems. They are far more prevalent than most people think.

About the back to back failure and Sunday workout. I think it is fine to do something, but it depends on what they failed and how bad they failed the fitness test.  

You may have people who do not train for the PFT and "wonder why they failed." You have to be careful with these people as they are likely too deconditioned to do much of anything the day after. I would recommend non-impact cardio options of bike, elliptical, or rowing to get the blood flowing, heart and lungs pumping, and then stretch. 

You may also have someone who barely failed the run by a few seconds or the situps by a few reps. Get them moving and show them the above links on learning your running goal pace by doing intervals at that speed. Practice situps at your goal pace too. In a two minute situp test, most people will get close to 30 in 30 seconds and not match that in the next 1:30. Slow the beginning pace down to 15-20 in 30 seconds and score in the range of 60-80 in the next test by working smarter.

Yoga is smart actually. But, you should have them do some form of cardio even if only a 20-30 minute walk, bike, elliptical, etc... Then follow with a yoga based stretching plan.

During this 10-15 minute stretch, find out where they are failing. Give some of the practice tips in the article above.  But if you want to get better at taking fitness tests – you have to practice fitness tests.  And not just a few weeks prior to the test, but all year! Making fitness a habit is essential to your job performance.

Don't like fitness tests?  Many people stay in shape enough to do well on fitness tests with a few sets of PT a day and playing basketball or other (challenging) sports where you run often.  

Need to lose weight? Instead of running while 30-40 lbs overweight, start them off on bike, elliptical, rowers or swimming, but move hard with pyramids and intervals.

–Stew Smith CSCS

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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