There have been several changes in the Army Physical Readiness Testing program throughout the years. From Pre-World War Two to Post 9-11, the Army has made changes or tested out new ideas for the evolving soldier fitness requirements each generation. Most recently, the Army experimented with APFT changes in 2011 with the advent of a revised APRT and an additional ACRT. Both were tested by over 10,000 soldiers but in the end rejected by Army Forces Command. However, since then, the Army revamped the scoring standards of the Army PRT (same test) as well as created the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) for new recruits and for members changing Military Occupational Specialties (MOS). The changes include:
The Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT)
Consider the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) as the Physical Fitness ASVAB. The OPAT measures recruits' physical aptitude as will assist in placement of a recruit in either highly physical jobs like infantry, artillery, and other combat arms, or lighter physical jobs dealing with computers, logistics, accounting. Training for the OPAT will help you get placed into the Army's most physically demanding occupations. Active duty soldiers changing MOS’s as well as certain jobs like infantry, artillery, and others will also be required to take the new test.
The OPAT measures muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, explosive power and speed. The tests used to measure these elements of tactical fitness include: (official Army Video of the OPAT)
- Standing Long Jump: This is the standard broad jump with no running to build momentum and is designed to assess lower- body power. Stand behind a line with feet parallel and shoulder-width apart then jump as far as possible with both feet pushing off the ground together and landing together.
- Seated Power Throw: is a throw with both arms while seated using a 4.4 pound (2kg) medicine ball the size of a basketball and it is designed to assess upper-body power.
- Strength Deadlift: is the standard lift of weight (using a hex bar not a barbell) from the floor to a standing position and requires perfect form of lifting object with your legs keeping a strong and straight back. It is designed to assess lower-body strength. Start with 120lbs. and build up to 220lbs.
- Interval Run: is a short distance interval run designed to assess aerobic capacity. The intervals are only 20m apart and you have to get there and start on the return trip to the beat of “beeps” heard by loudspeaker. You keep going until you can no longer maintain the pace required to stay on the beep starting mark.
New for 2017: The Army is experimenting with a new Army Soldier Readiness Test (SRT). This test is done with utilities, boots, and full body armor (roughly 20 lbs) and measures a soldier’s full-body (upper and lower body) movement coordination and power, agility, strength, grip, and cardiovascular endurance. Soldiers must complete the test in under 23 minutes.
The events include:
- 220-pound tire flips
- An agility test
- A 240-pound dummy drag
- A sand-bag stack
- A sand-bag toss
- A 1 1/2-mile run on rugged terrain
Both of these new Army tests will require getting in the weight room and lifting weights, especially deadlifting, but also bench press, shoulder press, and weighted runs. Using kettlebells, sandbags, or just moving with extra weight carried in hands or shoulder doing farmer walk exercises and walking steps will also help prepare for these new tests. On days you lift legs, you will also want to mix in some jumping as well as short and fast runs in between exercises to help prepare for the beep test as well. The Army believes this type of training added to the standard Army PRT, will yield a stronger, fitter soldier able to a PT test but also address the physical demands of specific military occupation specialities.
Pushups, Sit-ups, 2 Mile Run
The Standard Army PFT is not going away anytime soon. The pushups, sit-ups, two-mile run is still the easiest test to do with a large group and minimal equipment and is still a good judge of basic fitness standards, health and wellness. In fact, many fire, police, and military branch boot camps use the basic PT test (pushups, sit-ups, 1.5 -2 mile run) as a statistical analysis to indicate a level of fitness that will successfully pass training without injury or failure to meet the physical standards. So, there is use in the very basic level PT test that is really a health and wellness test. The new functional fitness tests will not only have similar uses, but by just training for the new Soldier Readiness Test, you can actually become stronger and better-rounded to complete difficult tasks experienced while working.