Story & photo by Rob McIlvaine, Army News Service
FORT JACKSON, S.C. — For the first time since 1980, the Army’s
physical fitness test is being overhauled. It will be replaced by the
Army Physical Readiness Test (APRT) and the Army Combat Readiness Test
Over the next few months, the two tests will be conducted at eight
installations as part of a pilot program, where standards also will be
developed. The new tests could go Army-wide as early as October, said
Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army
Training and Doctrine Command, Initial Military Training, at Fort
“Today’s PT test does not adequately measure components of strength,
endurance, or mobility,” Hertling said.
A Soldier high-steps over
obstacles on the second leg of the new Army Combat Readiness
Test after completing the first portion of the test, the
400-meter run. The test is undergoing pilot testing at selected
Hertling and Frank Palkoska, director of the Army’s Physical Fitness
School, began discussing the need for better physical fitness tests
while together at West Point’s department of physical education in the
early 1980s. But it was the progression of sports science that led to
development of the new APRT and ACRT.
“We needed to come up with a program for the incoming young Soldiers who
were not as focused on health, fitness and nutrition,” Hertling said.
The two tests align with the new Army Physical Readiness Training
program, outlined in Training Circular 3-22.20, that began Army-wide
implementation in August.
The new training involves anaerobic exercise.
Used by athletes to promote strength, speed and power and by body
builders to build muscle mass, anaerobic exercise leads to greater
performance in short duration, high-intensity activities.
Aerobic exercise includes lower intensity activities performed for
longer periods of time.
The Army, said Hertling, has been on an ebb and flow of physical fitness
training for the last 60 to 70 years.
“Every time prior to combat, our fitness regimen and fitness testing is
very different to what we do after we’ve experienced combat. But right
after Vietnam, some of the fitness mavens, like Ken Cooper, sold the
military on aerobic training. But this isn’t necessarily the way we do
things in combat,” Hertling said.
One of the initial concerns on changing the test, Hertling said,
anticipated comments such as ‘why are we changing? It’s been good enough
for 30 years.’
“In fact, just the opposite is happening. Soldiers enjoy a challenge and
many have come up to me and said, ‘thank you for fighting for these
changes,’” Hertling said.
The old test required completion of three events: two minutes of
push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a two-mile run.
The new APRT has five events:
• 60-yard shuttle run measures lower body muscular strength and
anaerobic power, assessing speed, agility and coordination
• 1-minute rower (variation of a sit-up) measures total body muscular
endurance and assesses total body coordination
• Standing long jump measures lower body muscular strength and assesses
lower body power
• 1-minute push-up measures upper body muscular endurance and assesses
• 1.5-mile run measures lower body muscular endurance and aerobic
capacity and assesses speed stability
The new ACRT has five events:
• 400-meter run assesses upper body muscular endurance and anaerobic
power, coordination, speed, and stability
• Individual movement techniques assess upper and lower body muscular
endurance, agility, balance, coordination, speed and stability
• Ammo can shuttle sprint assesses total body muscular strength and
endurance, agility, coordination, speed, stability, and power
• Casualty drag assesses total body muscular strength and endurance,
agility, coordination, speed, stability, and power
• Agility sprint assesses lower body anaerobic power, speed and power
In order to develop these tests, Hertling asked Palkoska to look both
inside and outside the Army for subject-matter experts to help develop a
test which is gender neutral and age specific.
Experts on the advisory board include Dr. Chip East, professor of
physical education at West Point; Dr. Neal Bumgartner, program director
of Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas;
and Tim Bockleman, sports medicine coordinator at the Marine Corp’s
“Also, we couldn’t develop a test that required buying equipment,”
Hertling said. “All you need is a track and some graders to administer
Following the APRT portion, participant Danica Foster, an instructor at
the Army Physical Fitness School at Fort Jackson, had only one piece of
advice, “get in better shape.”
After taking the ACRT portion, Sgt. 1st Class Cornelius Trammell, also
an instructor at the school, had one thought on his mind: “My quads are
on fire,” he said. “I consider myself in great shape and always do well
in distance running, but this was a challenge and made me breathe hard.”
“This is what anaerobic training is all about,” Hertling said. “It’s
like a boxer in the first and second round, just like in combat with all
the stress and before you can relax and take in oxygen.”
The proposed pilot test sites are: Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Benning,
Ga.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Jackson, S.C.; Fort Bliss, Texas; West
Point, N.Y.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Fort Lewis, Wash.