The Air Force will introduce an updated physical fitness test for airmen and Space Force Guardians starting July 1, the service said Wednesday. It will boast a new scoring system and, eventually, new events from which to choose.
"We are moving away from a one-size-fits-all model," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles CQ Brown in a news release. "More testing options will put flexibility in the hands of our Airmen -- where it belongs. … We know not all Airmen maintain their fitness the same way and may excel in different areas. Alternate components provide choices while still providing a mechanism to determine overall fitness."
The new exercise options should be announced in coming weeks, the Air Force said.
The service's existing fitness test is gender- and age-normed. Airmen complete a timed 1.5-mile run, and try to do as many push-ups and sit-ups as possible in one-minute events.
The Air Force has increased the maximum score for the sit-up and push-up events from 10 points to 20 points each after it stopped counting the results of the waist-measurement, or tape, test, explained Capt. Leah Brading, a service spokeswoman. The best possible score for the 1.5-mile run remains 60 points, meaning an airman could achieve 100 points on the test overall.
Scoring benchmarks remain the same: An "excellent" composite score is 90 points or higher, with all minimum components met. A satisfactory score is between 75 and 89.99 points. Anything below 75 is a failing score.
The service also created smaller age brackets for both men and women, according to the new scoring sheet. Previously, age groups covered 10 years: under 30; 30 to 39; and so on. Now, age groups will be in five-year increments: under 25; 25 to 29; 30 to 34; and so on.
Last year, the service said it would not administer the tape test in order to adhere to social distancing protocols amid the pandemic. The test has long been widely unpopular among airmen because many regarded it as too subjective.
Months later, officials decided not to bring back the tape test in favor of a new body composition measurement that has yet to be revealed. However, the service backtracked on axing the tape test altogether because of a mandatory requirement outlined in Department of Defense Instruction 1308.3. Instead, the tape test will be used to determine whether an airman is in compliance with body composition standards, but the result won't be counted in the overall PT score.
Officials expect to unveil a new body composition program in October, the release states.
Brown previously stated that ditching the tape test score could force the service to reexamine how it conducts PT and what changes commanders need to institute to make training more effective.
Officials are studying strength and cardio tests that might be included in the service's fitness test in the future, including the 20-meter High Aerobic Multi-shuttle Run, row ergometry, planks and burpees, the Air Force said in March.
Once the options are finalized, service members and fitness monitors "will have approximately six months to familiarize themselves with use and execution of the alternative testing options prior to having them available in January 2022," Wednesday's release states. "Members will have a choice of which testing options they choose for their physical fitness assessment components."
Airmen and Guardians will also have the option of taking the "no-fail" practice PT test, Brading said Thursday. The diagnostic PT test was unveiled by then-Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright in 2019.
An airman must conduct that test alongside a unit fitness program manager or physical training leader. If they fail, it will not count against them or be documented as their official score.
But it would count if they pass.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.