Failing to meet U.S. Army weight and height requirements may disqualify you as a potential recruit. Although as of January 2009, the Army does have a weight waiver that, in some cases, may allow you to enlist and lose weight during basic training, height requirements remain firm. Despite the waiver allowance, the National Bureau of Economic Research states that as of September 2010, weight requirements still lead to the disqualification of one in four recruits.
Army personnel take official height and weight measurements as part of the physical exam portion of the Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS, process you follow before swearing in as a recruit. Both measurements round up or down according to whether measurements are greater than or less than .5 inch or lb. For example, if your weight is 120.6 lbs., your official weight is 121 lbs. If your weight is over the maximum limit, Military.com notes that MEPS officials may require an additional body fat percentage test.
Height requirements, according to the U.S. Army medical disqualification list, provide minimum and maximum height for both men and women. Men must be between 60 and 80 inches, or 5 to 6.5 feet tall. Women must be between 58 and 80 inches, or 4.8 to 6.5 feet tall.
Weight requirements follow a standard chart that takes gender, height and the age groups 17 to 20, 21 to 27, 28 to 39 and over 40 into account to determine maximum weight limits. New recruits, or non-priors, have a slightly higher weight limit than those with prior military experience. For example, if you are a new recruit in the 17 to 20 age group and 60 inches tall, your maximum weight limit is 120 lbs. if you are female and 139 lbs. if you are male. In contrast, if you have prior military service experience, your maximum weight limit is 116 lbs. if you are female and 132 lbs. if you are male.
If your weight exceeds the maximum limit for your gender, height and age group, the Army may grant a weight waiver if you can pass the Assessment of Recruit Motivation and Strength, or ARMS, test. This two-part test starts with a five-minute stepping test using steps set to a height of 12 inches for females and 16 inches for males. During the five-minute duration, you must complete a minimum of 30 steps per minute. The second part of the test involves push-up exercises. Females must perform a minimum of four push-ups; if you are male, the minimum requirement is 15 push-ups. In addition, you must agree to reduce your body fat percentage to levels that correspond to your gender and age group within one year.
- The National Bureau of Economic Research: Unfit for Service: The Implications of Rising Obesity for U.S. Military Recruitment
- PhysOrg: One in Four Military Applicants Denied Due to Obesity
- Military: 10 Steps to Joining the Military - Medical Disqualifications
- Military: 10 Steps to Joining the Military – Height and Weight Charts – Army and National Guard