- The US Army updated their fitness test from the 1980s, adding exercises like deadlifts and pull-ups.
- I tried the test and passed — I think my well-rounded training was key for the many requirements.
- Focusing out your weak points can make you a better athlete and your workouts more effective.
The US Army finally updated their decades-old fitness test standards to bring combat readiness into the modern era. Instead of basic push-ups and sit-ups, recruits now have to tackle tasks that require skill, agility, and coordination, which much more closely resemble activities they might encounter on the job.
As someone who works out regularly, I was excited to see how I measured up. I passed, but learned a lot in the process — the new test was a smart, well-balanced way to find weak points in my training, even though I don’t plan to enlist.
I met the “heavy” job requirements of the test, but was nowhere near acing it
There are six components on the new test. While each event has a scoring system from 1 to 100, your overall score is only as good as your weakest event. To pass, you need to score at least 60 (up to 70 for heavy jobs).
I ranked a 70 overall (out of 100), meeting the the requirement for more demanding jobs.
My scores, in order, were: 200 pound three-rep deadlift, 8.3 meter medicine ball throw, 42 push-ups in two minutes, 10 leg-tuck pull-ups, and two mile runs in 17 minutes, 10 seconds.
I did not try the sprint-drag-carry portion of the test, because my plastic furniture dolly was not up to hauling 135 pounds of weights to the park. I did have to carry all those weights up and down my apartment stairs though, so I will accept partial credit.
The standing power throw was surprisingly tricky
My least-favorite portion of the test was the medicine ball throw, which I thought would be the easiest.
While it wasn’t physically demanding, it was humbling when the ball fell much shorter than I expected. The movement was tricky because it required coordination and timing, which is tough to master in just three tries.
I’m not going to start incorporating overhead med ball tosses into my workouts, but it was a helpful reminder that skill-based exercises are a fun way to re-evaluate workouts and build both mental and physical muscles you may be neglecting. Sticking to a fitness program consistently is important for making gains, but trying a new sport or changing routines once in a while helps me stay motivated and excited to work out.
In the days after the test, I was inspired to add some handstand practice to my workouts to get out of my comfort zone.
My pacing training paid off in the push-up drill
I asked a few friends what they thought the easiest part of the test would be — several said it seemed simple to complete 30 push-ups in two minutes.
It was not. Despite time on the ground, hand-release push-ups are more challenging than standard because of a larger range of motion and less momentum.
As a result, two minutes felt like an eternity. I spent the first 20 seconds moving as fast as humanly possible through my reps. However, I quickly realized I needed to slow down if I was going to hit my rep goal.
I’ve learned how to adjust my intensity to make the most of a workout without exhausting myself using AMRAP-style workouts.
Combining heavy weights with running is an incredibly effective workout I’ll do again
My favorite parts of the test were the deadlifts and two mile run, which combined took about 30 minutes to complete. I regularly incorporate strength and cardio in the same workout, since it’s a great way to get a ton of benefits in a short time period.
Starting with a heavy deadlift helped me work on full-body strength while I was most energized, and the two-mile run was great for stamina, so the combo will definitely be in my future routine.
I’ll also continue practicing workouts that target different athletic skills like speed and agility, as well as workouts that force me to think on my feet and strategize while pushing my limits. I think the new Army test is a smart system for encouraging balanced fitness, and any athlete can learn from it to add to their progress and gains.