Training large groups with varied fitness levels is one of the most challenging things to accomplish with success. Success will be defined by the group’s increased fitness levels as well as not injuring people who maybe ill-prepared for new and challenging exercises. Here is a great question from a new PT coordinator concerned with adding new ways to test the group in exercises /events not common to the Air Force PFT.
My unit has placed me in charge of the PT program which is a combination of remedial PT failures as well as the top fitness levels on our base. We are – for the most part – a competitive group and though we do focus on the PFT exercises so we stay on top of the test, I would like to change it up and add new fitness testing exercises to challenge our team. I recall you writing that there were about 10 to 12 exercises that have been deemed as acceptable (validated) for most military and police fitness tests. However, there will certainly be some naysayers who will be less than enthusiastic about fitness programming and evaluation on a department-wide basis – even if it is for fun. I know you have a lot of experience in this area, so I wanted to see what your thoughts were on the best exercises / tasks for testing purposes.
There are many tests that are used by a variety of military, police, SWAT Team, and Special Ops units – some are actual fitness tests, selection evaluations, and general / advanced fitness events. Here is a list of what I like to call the “dirty dozen” if you need differing exercises to test during workouts each week.
Your test is what I called the PFT Bible, the standard pushups, situps, 1.5 mile run which is used by most of the military and half of the police departments in the nation. Keeping these exercises are easy to add as you can “rest” with running, situps / crunches, plank poses and pushups in between a circuit of many of the following list of other testable exercises:
Running / Other Cardio Additions: 120 yd shuttle run (4 x30yd) — Used by DEA 300m sprint – Used by FBI Longer runs / rucks: 2 mile run (Army), 3 mile run (USMC) Beep Test – a version of the shuttle run done on “beeps” at decreasing intervals each lap – Various Police departments 12 minute Swim Test – (USCG) How far can you swim in 12 minutes? 500m or 500yd swim test – used by AFPJ / Navy SEAL, EOD, Divers, RECON
Calisthenics / Weights / Core Additions: Pullups / Flexed Army Hangs – Used by USMC, various Special Operations / Police Depts Pullups with body armor – Used by Special Ops / FBI SWAT Bench Press – Bodyweight percentage for max reps (Used by FLETC, Various Spec Ops) KB Snatch Test – 5 or 10 min (Used by US Secret Service) Step Test – Step up on a box (up / down) for 5 minutes for max reps (various Federal Police) Vertical Jump – Jump as high as you can from stationary position (various police) 40yd sprint – from prone position carrying weapon – used by FBI SWAT
Adding many of these exercises into a fun circuit or a group of upper body and lower body day supersets will create some variety for your PT programs. These exercises are related to the standard PFT in some way and will actually help your team to continue to improve on the PFT and add new life to the same old PT exercises.
PS: Dont forget about the UBRR — Upper Body Round Robin — an ultra challenging test for your upper end fitness level members.