The U.S. Army's basic training includes a fitness test at the outset as well as rigorous physical training (PT). Here's what you need to know about the Army's PT exercises and the fitness test that you have to pass.
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Army Fitness Test
According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), basic training, or boot camp, is the first step for anyone who wants to be a soldier in the U.S. Army. It is a 10-week program that has three phases covering everything from weapons training to combat skills, with plenty of Army PT workouts thrown in.
The DoD explains that in the very first phase of basic training camp, you need to pass a physical test. A study published in the April-June issue of the U.S. Army Medical Department Journal notes that the Army first introduced the physical test in 1858, and it has seen several modifications over the years.
Per the DoD, the current version of the test is known as the Army Physical Fitness Test and it consists of push-ups, sit-ups and a 2-mile run. However, the DoD states that from October 2020 onward, the test will be known as the Army Combat Fitness Test and it will include six parts instead of three: strength deadlifts, standing power throw, hand-release push-ups, sprint/drag/carry, leg tucks and a 2-mile run.
The DoD recommends that you arrive prepared to pass the test. A January 2015 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that working on your physical fitness before you undertake basic training can not only improve your performance on the fitness test but also help you cope psychologically with the basic training camp. There are several exercises you can do before you join basic training to help prepare for the test.
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Army PT Exercises
Apart from the fitness test, basic training camp also involves a demanding regimen of Army PT exercises. The U.S. Army provides a 12-week training schedule that you can follow in order to prepare for the physical requirements of basic training. The training schedule is designed to improve your cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and physical endurance.
According to the Army, all the workout sessions in the training schedule have three parts: the warm-up, the main activity and the cool-down. The warm-up typically lasts 15 minutes, the main activity can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes and the cool-down lasts around 10 minutes. The workouts include core exercises, conditioning drills, running sessions and stretching drills.
Per the Army's training schedule, here is an example of an endurance workout that you would do in your first week of preparing for the basic training camp.
Warm Up Set 1: Conditioning Drill
- Bend and Reach: 5 repetitions, slow
- Rear Lunge: 5 repetitions, slow
- High Jumper: 5 repetitions, slow
- Rower: 5 repetitions, slow
- Squat Bender: 5 repetitions, slow
- Windmill: 5 repetitions, slow
- Forward Lunge: 5 repetitions, slow
- Prone Row: 5 repetitions, slow
- Bent-Leg Body Twist: 5 repetitions, slow
- Push-Up: 5 repetitions, moderate
Warm Up Set 2: Military Movement Drill
- Verticals: 1 repetition
- Laterals: 1 repetition
- Shuttle Sprint: 1 repetition
Main Activity: Speed Running (30:60s)
To be repeated six times.
- Run: 30 seconds
- Walk: 60 seconds
Cool Down Part #1: Walking
- Walk until your heart rate comes down to fewer than 100 beats per minute.
Cool Down Part 2: Stretch Drill
- Overhead Arm Pull: 1 repetition on each side, hold for 20 seconds
- Rear Lunge: 1 repetition on each side, hold for 20 seconds
- Extend and Flex: 1 repetition on each side, hold for 20 seconds
- Thigh Stretch: 1 repetition on each side, hold for 20 seconds
- Single-Leg Over: 1 repetition on each side, hold for 20 seconds
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- U.S. Department of Defense: “Army Basic Training: What to Expect”
- U.S. Army Medical Department Journal: “History of U.S. Army Physical Fitness and Physical Readiness Training”
- U.S. Department of Defense: “The New Army Combat Fitness Test”
- U.S. Army: “Army Combat Fitness Test: Training Guide”
- Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: “Physical Fitness and Depressive Symptoms During Army Basic Combat Training”
- U.S. Army: “Army Pocket Physical Training Guide”