UPDATED 28 April 2012



British troops storm ashore at San Carlos Bay in the Falklands

British Soldiers WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE to complete their objectives without adequate battle conditions preparation in training.

"Not all...were physically capable of enduring the long marches with heavy loads which were constant features of the Falklands War. An interesting and quite surprising occurrence was the number of physical training cadre that fell out of the marches. In garrison these cadre ran company physical training. It was determined that some of these cadre were unable to complete the force marches with such heavy loads because they were not able to maintain a high-protein diet. The British realized that the intent of physical training is not to develop professional athletes or weight lifters. The purpose of physical conditioning is to develop combat stamina". [20]

-U.S. Army Center for Lessons Learned (CALL)

BREAKING NEWS! U.S. Army Finally Getting Rid of It's Crap Sports-Oriented Physical Fitness Test!


Army's new fitness tests add taste of battlefield

AP - U.S. Army Sgt. Cornelius Trammell, clears a hurdle as he demonstrates one of the elements of the Army's Combat Readiness Test

By SUSANNE M. SCHAFER, Associated Press

Tue Mar 1, 6:38 pm ET

FORT JACKSON, S.C. - Sit-ups don't make a Soldier, the Army has decided. So its 30-year-old fitness requirements are getting a battlefield-inspired makeover.

Soon every Soldier will have to run on a balance beam with two 30-pound canisters of ammunition, drag a sled weighted with 180 pounds of sandbags and vault over obstacles while carrying a rifle. Those were just some of the tests the Army unveiled Tuesday as it moves toward making its physical training look more like combat.

Right now, Soldiers have to complete sit-ups, push-ups and a two-mile run twice a year within times that vary by age and gender. Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the general in charge of the Army's initial military training, said he has been working to change that test for years.

Hertling said the current test "does not adequately measure components of strength, endurance, or mobility," or predict how well a Soldier would do under fire.

A new annual "combat readiness" test includes running 400 meters - about a quarter of a mile - with a rifle, moving through an obstacle course in full combat gear, and crawling and vaulting over obstacles while aiming a rifle. Soldiers also will have to run on a balance beam while carrying 30-pound ammo boxes and do an agility sprint around a course field of cones.

Soldiers also will have to drag sleds weighted with sandbags to test their ability to pull a fallen comrade from the battlefield. The combat test might be given before deployments as well as annually, but that has not been decided.

The Army will keep elements of its old assessment in a "physical readiness" test, which adds such things as a 60-yard shuttle run and a standing long jump to one minute of push-ups and a 1.5-mile timed run. This might be given every six months, said Frank Palkoska, head of the Army's Fitness School at Fort Jackson.

Hertling said trials of the new program are starting this month at eight bases and the plan could be adopted Army-wide after reviews later this year. Soldiers who ran the proposed "combat readiness" portion of the test Tuesday told reporters the exercises were tough, even for combat veterans.

Wearing a battle helmet and carrying a rifle, Staff Sgt. Timothy Shoenfelt teetered as he trod the balance beam, holding ammo tins in each hand. His pace slowed a bit as he dragged the green sled behind him, then held his M-4 steady as he strode sideways through the "point-move-aim" portion of the test.

"My quads are on fire!" the 31-year-old from Indiana, Pa., said afterward. "It really made me breathe hard and challenged a lot of muscle groups."

Wheeled vehicle mechanic and Sgt. 1st Class Cornelius Trammell, 33, of Eufaula, Ala., said it will be important for all Soldiers to go through tests, even if their jobs are behind desks. He laughed when reporters commented on his sweaty face.

"You never know when you might need it, whether you are in the infantry or if you're a mechanic," said Trammell, who's been deployed three times.

The tests will be given to all Soldiers and officers, including Army Reserves and National Guard, even those recalled Soldiers who are now over 60, officials said. Specific gender and age standards are still being worked out, Palkoska said.

The shift follows other Army efforts to overhaul training, improve diets and help older Soldiers keep fit. Hertling said the Army is trying to better prepare Soldiers for the 40 to 70 pounds of weapons and body armor many of them need to carry in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Soldiers like to be challenged. This will definitely challenge them," Hertling said.

The Army also is hoping to reduce injuries - both in the field and from repetitive exercises.

"This is about training smarter, not just training more," Hertling said.

Staff Sgt. Danica Foster, 28, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who pumped through a shuttle run and did push-ups for the "physical readiness" section, said the new tests will require Soldiers to work on their upper body strength. Female Soldiers will have to work to get them done, she said.

"I honestly believe, though, that if I can do this, anybody can," she said with a laugh.

Besides Fort Jackson, the program will be tested at Ft. Leonard-Wood, Mo.; Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Lewis, Wash.; and at the Army's military academy at West Point.

(This version CORRECTS that Soldiers will vault over obstacles while carrying rifle, not aiming it.)

This is great news! Another point is that forcing Soldiers to wear their battle gear will spur development of better gear. We believe every Soldier should wear full combat gear EVERY DAY via our BATTLEBOX system so they are immersed in combat tasks and their bodies get used to the weight long before they have to go into battle.

The Soldier's Load: Light Infantry in Action

UPDATE 2012: Ruck March or Not To Ruck March for the APFT?

An even simpler way to be combat realistic would be to speed march in fighting load and ruck march with the existence load. Let's hope HQDA doesn't botch this into another exercise in narcissism.

We do not go to war in T-shirts, shorts and running shoes - therefore, the proposed four-mile run should be in a combat, uniform, boots and load-bearing equipment with a weapon in hand to represent the fighting load. A 100-point maxi covering four miles in 30 minutes, a useful combat speed. Today's high-technology combat boots are well-designed, so they can be run in without injuring Soldiers. The ruck march representing the existence load with a 35-pound rucksack should be 8 miles, not the proposed 12 miles. The latter tends to wipe out Soldiers' muscles for too long and will bog us down if we want the combat run capabilities, too. Maxing the ruck march would be eight miles in exactly two hours. Having the speed march exactly twice the distance as the combat run will reinforce tangible combat goals, which are to be able to run in combat at 7 mph and march at 4 mph to outmaneuver enemies.

--Former 1st Lt. Mike Sparks, Fayetteville, N.C.


The U.S. Army's official After-Action Review (AAR) for recent Operation Anaconda combat concludes:

"O: The terrain and altitude make combat in mountains extremely physically demanding.

D: Units need to get away from the normal PT routines before deploying to the mountains. Pushups, sit-ups and 5-mile runs will not prepare Soldiers. They need to have the ability to spend time in the mountains to physically adapt to the terrain and altitude. Soldiers were not used to steeper slopes and wasted time and energy.

LL: Emphasis on ruck marches (6-8 mile) with heavy loads. Cardiovascular training, strength and mountain walking techniques need to be stressed. Subject matter experts (SME's) need to give blocks of instruction on even the basics of mountain walking techniques."

While we work daily to max the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), our runs, push-ups and sit-ups betray us when we put our LBE, rucksack, helmet and weapon on. We are barely able to maintain an Expert Infantryman's Badge (EIB) 4 mph pace on foot. We all know of the "jack rabbits" who can run two miles under 12 minutes, but who turn into "slugs" when you put a heavy load with useful equipment on them.


The reality is that the APFT is a SPORTS-oriented test not a combat-oriented test of physical fitness. This is a violation of the most basic fitness principles which is to train for the specific tasks to be done. Compounding this, the sit-up exercise is universally recognized by health/sports experts as being harmful to the lower back. What we need is an APFT that will measure combat physical fitness and then encourage the development of combat physical fitness by what we do during daily Physical Training (PT).

I recommend that we change the two-mile run to a three-mile or 6 mile speed march in BDUs, 35-pound rucksack, Kevlar(c) PASGT helmet and weapon which can be a "rubber duck" or a 2x4 piece of wood cut to a 36" length and spray painted black. To get 100 points, you must do the three miles in less than 30 minutes or 6 miles in 60 minutes for a speed of 6 miles per hour (6 MPH)--or better. A tangible goal. A lot of people wail about the "Soldier's Load" problem but do not do anything more than offer a band aid solution of telling leaders not to overload their men. There has to be a yardstick to prove one way or another if men are overloaded or not. If they cannot move at 6 mph with their battle gear they are not "all that they can be". If they cannot even maintain 1-2 mph they are overloaded, not properly conditioned for COMBAT--or both.

This would encourage Soldiers/units to examine the gear they take into the field and how it is arranged to achieve maximum mobility. Push-ups (without the ridiculous legalism--place a BDU patrol cap on the ground, you touch it on the way down, its enough) and leg-lifts would be done prior to the speed march in BDUs with jacket removed. Leg-lifts would replace sit-ups for measurement of abdominal physical condition without harmful stress on the lower back.

The combat-oriented APFT as described above would give focus to our training efforts and personal physical fitness. Americans love sports, and running around in thin cotton shorts, t-shirts and running shoes can be fun. But this yields us little in terms of "go-to-war" mobility that needs to be at 4-7 mph-level with useful combat load in hand if we are to be a world-class mobile infantry force that can our-maneuver irregulars on the modern non-linear battlefield.

DARBY'S RANGERS SPEED-MARCHING at Arzew, January 20, 1943

Darby's Rangers flying across the ETO battlefield

In We Lead the Way by William O. Darby and William Baumer write:

"Speed marches gave maximum development to lungs and legs, and most importantly, to feet. In the early stages we had blisters by the bushel. Finally, though, we became hardened, and our feet were able to stand up under any kind of pounding. On one occasion during the training in speed marching, the Rangers flew across ten miles in eighty-seven minutes, flashing that long stride that was to become our trademark in the Mediterranean war."

IDF Paratroopers ready to speed march into battle!

Today's Israeli Paratroopers, and our own Darby's Rangers in WWII could go 10 miles in just 87 minutes! This is the kind of battle speed we need to deploy from aircraft, ground Armored Fighting Vehicles in order to stay outside of enemy sensor detection range yet close in fast enough to catch and destroy him by surprise. The IDF Paras practice regularly stretcher carries during PT, note the folding stretcher carried by the Paratrooper in the illustration above. We should likewise insure folding stretchers, or non-rigid types be carried by at least one Soldier in each squad, preferably the Combat LifeSaver assigned to the aid/litter team. Battle physical fitness is what we need to exploit human powered vehicles like the carts Paratroopers/Rangers used in WWII, and the bikes Yamashita used to conquer Malaya/Singapore, and the British Airborne "Cycle-Commandos" to capture Bruneval radar station.

What manner of man is this who wears the maroon beret?

1st TSG (A) member, Andrew Honer, former 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment writes:

"Pre-1979/80, the British Army APFT was commonly known as the 10 mile bash.

This was particularly reverred by the Airborne Battalions and was part of the final "P" Company period prior to RAF Abingdon for Para training.

The bash consisted of a 10 mile timed speed march in full battle order including weapon, helmet, bergen, simulated ammunition weight and other equipment. The failure rate, was in relation to physical drop out was kept to a minimum from the constant ' beasting ', ie: physical assault from Platoon NCO's and Physical Training Instructors.

In 1979/80, this practice became unused, rumoured to have been stopped by the MoD, exact initiation of this action unknown, and was replaced by a 3 mile timed run/walk in little more than t-shirt, Dennims and boots. As expected the pass rate was 100%.

The Parachute Regiment however realising the need to produce battle ready troops, adhered to the cancellation on the Bash, though instilled a 50 mile overnight march, for us this was an overnight exercise through the streets and forests of former West Berlin.

Although I was not in the Atlantic Campaign, the Falklands although providing difficult conditions, taking into account the terrain, lack of transport, logistics and the distances to be travelled, the men I know would not have been able to succeed under those conditions without adequate battle orientated training, a success, though marred by few fatalities, would have not have been achieved without preparation during and after training."


All physical fitness should be task specific. The problem with running ( jogging is more like it ) is it teaches you to run slow. The concept of speed marching teaches you to walk fast. Which has the more desired effect in combat. What I'm getting at is your muscles are being trained for a specific activity. Jogging is good for teaching a specific kind of endurance like steady movement but when you have to kick it up a gear ( like when you are under fire ) it is very hard to do. What is more likely to happen is you will crouch and jog. In combat it's inevitable that you will need a burst of speed to avoid being exposed to fire or move to cover under aimed fire. The speed marching concept is better than jogging, no question. It can be used to successfully move forces over large chunks of terrain and still remain alert to your surroundings, very necessary in combat conditions. It is teaching your muscles to move faster than the usual march speed. This is more muscle memory stuff which you're probably tired of but I don't know how else to explain it.

Now examine what happens when you make contact from a jog. One of the most important aspects of foot speed is your ability to pick up your feet quickly so you can marshall the quadriceps and hamstring muscles which push your feet down and back which propels you forward. These two muscles groups ( hamstring and quads with a lot of help from your gluteus ) are the most explosive in your body. You would think that some one with extremely strong thighs would be fast but this isn't true. In order to make your thigh muscles work at their maximum you have to you have to be able to bring your knees up to at least waist high and higher is better. The slower you lift your knees up the longer the it takes to push down with your thighs. You can only go as fast as the up down motion will allow. A person can have tremendous thigh strength (the push cycle) but be totally unable to pick your knees up (the pull cycle) and the result will be slow speed. That's basic stuff that I may not be making totally clear but I can recommend some books if you are really interested.

The muscles that pick up your knee is the Hip Flexor. These are the thin band of muscles that run down the front of the hip from your Abs to the quads. They are not very strong but they are extremely explosive. The problem with jogging is it fatigues the hip flexor severely and does something called short stroking. This is where the muscle does not work through the full range of motion and is constantly fatigued in the partial range. What this means is when you have to run suddenly after jogging for a long time you cannot pick up your knees. The result is slow foot speed and possibly the ultimate sacrifice.

Speed marching is a much better in the sense that you save your legs from the pounding and the fatigue in your hip flexors. It also allows your legs to functions in a more natural manner. This means efficiency which translate into saved energy and more importantly the ability to turn on the speed when it's necessary. Speed marching is definitely tiring but it works the strongest and biggest muscle groups (the thighs) and not one of the weakest ( hip flexor ) which you could need at a moments notice.

Ok, we want the speed march as part of the APFT. But, lets add some other extremely important dimensions like running explosion. This means your ability to sprint. This doesn't mean your 40 yard dash time, it means your ability to run under stress for a given period of time. For example, you have 5 minutes to run ten 100 yard dashes (in combat equipment, weapon, web gear etc. ). You would have to run each, hundreds yard dash in thirty seconds each. these are timed sprints. If you don't believe it's tough enough you can make the time per sprint less.

It works like this. You get thirty seconds two run each sprint. The faster you run the sprint the more rest you get between sprints. This encourages everyone to run there fastest. There is only about a second and a half difference between your slowest and your fastest Soldiers so speed isn't a big factor. You can drop it down to twenty-five seconds and you see that it gets very difficult. Do this after you have the speed march and you will be on your way to some real combat fitness.

The next little drill is the upper body test. Many people can do fifty push ups but lets make it under real conditions. After the speed march and sprint test we go to a sand pit. It should be thirty meters long. You have the Soldiers sprint the thirty yards and do as many push-ups as possible in fifteen seconds. Do that three or four times and then move on to pull-ups and Abs of some kind. I don't know what the standards should be but you can try it and get a base line pretty fast. I would love to see you pick a couple of young studs who think there in shape and see what they can do. I think you'll be amazed.

The point is that no one walks or jogs into war with no equipment and without using many different types of fitness, aerobic, anaerobic, and a combination of the two with the whole body. In most cases an Infantrymen usually has to work hard to get to an objective with all his equipment and them needs a burst of energy to assault it. It can also work the other way as Col. Bernard has written about. You may have to run for your life with all your gear and wounded at a much higher speed than a jog.


Instead of running around in shorts we could do PT in the actual BDU uniform and LBE that we will use in combat. While ruck marching for time:

*Carry a stretcher with a designated Soldier on it and rotate during the march use rigid and non-rigid litters
*Carry 5 gallon water cans
*Push a HMMWV simulating a disabled vehicle
*Sandbag vehicles for technical skill/upper body strength
*Tow a 120mm Heavy Mortar a distance (U.S. Army Ranger 3-man squad towed a 716 pound mortar for 30 miles re: The Discovery Channel documentary "American Commandos" 1-800-765-0066 $19.95)
*Carry weapons at the ready during a speed march, stop and engage targets with MILES and silhouettes or live fire
*Obstacle courses *Assembly-Disassembly of weapons EIB-style after a speed march or "Battle run"
*Battle runs with LBE (LC-2, ETLBV, TLBV etc), weapon, helmet

The point of all of this is to get better Soldier performance while in combat fighting order.


by CPT Robert Murphy, Actual Operations Branch, CALL

I struggled under the weight of my 78-pound rucksack as I moved slowly up the hillside. It was the third and final day of a 48-mile escape and evasion exercise. I had divided my unit into small four-man groups for the exercise. I knew that this exercise was going to be hard on my Soldiers, but I figured that they could do it because we had just taken an APFT the week before and the unit average was 279. I glanced over my shoulder at two of my Soldiers. One was doing extremely well on the long movement. The other one was having more difficulty. Remembering that the second Soldier scored better on the APFT than the first, I wondered why the second Soldier was having problems. At the next break, I walked over to the struggling Soldier and jokingly said that this was a lot harder than the PT test. He replied that this was hard and that he thought that he needed to do more ruck marches to get use to carrying the heavy weight. At that point, I realized that I needed to change my physical training program to mirror the challenges that my unit would face in combat and get away from training for the PT test.

What physical training program prepares your unit for combat? In combat, different types of units have different missions. The physical demands required to complete those missions will vary between units. Leaders must prepare their Soldiers for combat by tailoring their physical training programs to meet the challenges they expect their unit to encounter in battle.

One way to do this is by developing a battle-focused physical training (BFPT) program. There are six steps involved in developing a BFPT program.

Step 1. Determine individual tasks that support your unit METL (mission-essential task list).

  • Using the appropriate ARTEP-MTP, break down Mission-Essential Tasks into a collective task list.
  • Determine the individual tasks which support those collective tasks and any other physical requirements those collective tasks may require.
  • List only the individual tasks which require a component of physical fitness to accomplish.
  • If no appropriate MTP manual exists, commanders, first sergeants, and master fitness trainers (MFTs) must determine the individual physical skills required to accomplish the task.

Step 2. Determine physical requirements of each task.

  • Commander, 1SGs and MFTs list what a Soldier must do physically to accomplish each individual task.
  • No limit to the number or type of activities a Soldier must perform.
  • Standardize the description of similar activities, when possible.

Step 3. Determine exercises which develop those requirements.

  • Determine which training activities and exercise best develop and improve the components of fitness specific goals.
  • Commanders, 1SGs, and MFTs determine most feasible and realistic training activities and exercises for their unit.
  • Compile a master list of all required training activities and exercises along with the desired frequency, intensity, and time.

Step 4. Determine secondary benefits and resource requirements of these activities.

  • Secondary benefits can include:

    • Development of Soldier skills.
    • Motor fitness components.
    • Mental toughness.
    • Esprit de Corps.

  • Tasks can be designed to accomplish a specific secondary benefit:

    • Litter relays prepare units for real-world casualty evacuation.
    • Flak-vest runs condition Soldiers to work more confidently in their equipment.

  • This intangible aspect of physical training may be the most important one. When under stress during combat, it's what happens in the soldier's head and heart that enables him to accomplish the mission.

Step 5. Develop mission/METL-based evaluation criteria.

  • Critical for program success.
  • Designate realistic events and standards which provide the commander an evaluation of unit's physical readiness to accomplish its combat mission.
  • Set challenging standards according to mission/METL.
  • Bottom line: If your Soldiers can accomplish tasks to standard, they are physically prepared for combat.

Step 6. Develop a physical training plan which accomplishes unit goals.

  • MFTs, 1SGs, and commanders develop unit physical training plan.
  • Make physical training a unit priority.
  • Program includes all components of physical fitness and is designed to follow the seven principles of exercise (FM 21-20, Chap. 1).
  • Field physical training, when not in a tactical environment, is a must to accomplish these goals.
  • This is a leadership responsibility. Our soldiers expect to be challenged every day.

To better understand BFPT program development, an example follows. For brevity, only one METL task will be analyzed. When developing your unit physical training program, all METL tasks should be used during the program development. As an example, let's assume that the unit in which we are designing a BFPT program is a light infantry unit with the following METL:

Movement to contact/hasty attack
Conduct raid
Conduct military operations in urbanized terrain (MOUT)

Developing a BFPT program for the METL task: Conduct Military Operations in Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) might look like this.

Step 1 - Determine the individual tasks which support unit METL.

Individual Tasks
React to indirect fire while dismounted.
Perform movement techniques during MOUT.
Transport casualty using one- or two-man carry, or improvised litter carry.

Step 2 - Determine physical requirements of each task.

React to indirect fire while dismounted Run long distances near maximum speed with all equipment over all types of terrain
Perform movement techniques during MOUT Balance, sprint with all equipment, jump, climb up and into windows, climb over walls, ladders, pull soldiers up into windows, throw grappling hooks, lift Soldiers up into windows, low-crawl, high-crawl, climb stairs, climb ropes
Transport casualty using one-or two-man carry, or improvised litter carry Lift heavy weight without assistance, get casualty into appropriate carrying position, carry heavy weight for extended periods of time, lift heavy weight over obstacles, grip strength endurance, move carrying heavy weight over all types of terrain.

Step 3 - Determine exercises which develop those requirements.

React to indirect fire while dismounted Run long distances near maximum speed with all equipment over all types of terrain Wind sprints while wearing LCE, Flak-vest runs, terrain runs, last man up runs while wearing equipment
Perform movement techniques during MOUT Balance, sprint with all equipment, jump, climb up and into windows, climb over walls, pull soldiers up into windows, throw grappling hooks, lift soldiers up into windows, low-crawl, high-crawl, climb stairs, climb ropes Obstacle courses, rope climbing, chinups, pullups, stair climbing, nautilus, pushups, dips, abdominal training, free weights
Transport casualty using one-or two-man carry, or improvised litter carry Lift heavy weight without assistance, get casualty into appropriate carrying position, carry heavy weight for extended periods of time, lift heavy weight over obstacles, grip strength endurance, move carrying heavy weight over all types of terrain. Litter relays, CASEVAC relays, obstacle courses, low-back strength/endurance training, rope climbing, chinups, nautilus, sandbag/water can circuit, stretcher runs, improvised litter relays, guerrilla drills

Step 4 - Determine secondary benefits and resource requirements of these activities.

React to indirect fire while dismounted Run long distances near maximum speed with all equipment over all types of terrain Wind sprints while wearing LCE, Flak-vest runs, terrain runs, last man up runs while wearing equipment Work while wearing flak-vest, familiarity with different types of terrain, leader inspection of equipment, comfort of LCE and other equipment Individual equipment, flak vest, uniform of choice (PT or BDU)
Perform movement techniques during MOUT Balance, sprint with all equipment, jump, climb up and into windows, climb over walls, pull soldiers up into windows, throw grappling hooks, lift soldiers up into windows, low-crawl, high-crawl, climb stairs, climb ropes Obstacle courses, rope climbing, chinups, pullups, stair climbing, nautilus, pushups, dips, abdominal training, free weights Learn to throw grappling hooks, develop confidence at heights, cohesion, teamwork Obstacle course with all installation requirements, grappling hooks, MOUT site or building, rope stand, chinup bar, stair/stair climber, nautilus, free weights
Transport casualty using one- or two-man carry, or improvised litter carry Lift heavy weight without assistance, get casualty into appropriate carrying position, carry heavy weight for extended periods of time, lift heavy weight over obstacles, grip strength endurance, move carrying heavy weight over all types of terrain. Litter relays, CASEVAC relays, obstacle courses, low-back strength/
endurance training, rope climbing, chinups, nautilus, sandbag/water can circuit, stretcher runs, improvised litter relays, guerrilla drills
CASEVAC training, first aid training, confidence in evacuation system, 9-line MEDEVAC training, unit cohesion, identify potential combat lifesavers Obstacle course with all installation requirements, rigid and poleless litters, improvised litters, sandbags, water cans, nautilus circuit, free weights, rope stand, chinup bar

Step 5 - Develop Mission-Based, Unit Evaluation Criteria.

Obstacle Course 30 Minutes Quarterly Resources: Main post obstacle course, ambulance, medic, water, stopwatch (2), scorecard, eight evaluators

Specific Requirements: Each soldier must attempt each obstacle; failure to complete obstacle to standard constitutes 3-minute time penalty, 185-pound dummies will be carried using designated CASEVAC carry between selected obstacles, two 40-pound water cans will be carried (one in each hand to simulate a litter between selected obstacles)

Step 6 - Develop Physical Training Plan which accomplishes goals.

The first part of step six is to transfer selected exercises into the "FITT" chart listed below. A unit's master fitness trainer can identify which component of fitness the selected exercises from Step 3 address. All of these exercises are then transferred to the chart under the appropriate component.


3-5 times/week

3 times/week

3-5 times/week

3 times/week

Warm up/cool down Stretch before and after activity

Developmental - 2-3 times/week


70-90% max heart rate

3-7 rep max

12+ rep max

8-12 rep max

Tension, not pain


20 minutes or more

Time required to do 3-7 reps of each exercise

Time required to do 12+ reps of each exercise

Time required to do 8-12 reps of each exercise

Warm up/cool down Stretching 10-15 seconds.

Stretch development 30 - 60 seconds/stretch


Wind sprints, flak-vest runs, terrain runs, last man up runs, obstacle course, stairs, intervals, litter relays, circuit training, stretcher run, guerrilla drills

Nautilus, sandbag circuit, low-back strength training, stretcher run

Wind sprints, flak-vest runs, last man up runs wearing equipment, rope climbing, chinups, pullups, stairs, intervals, litter/CASEVAC relays, dips, abdominal training, pushups, guerrilla drills

Nautilus, sandbag circuit, low-back strength and endurance training, stretcher run


The final part of step 6 is to develop the actual physical training plan. The plan should be based on the commander's current assessment of the unit's physical fitness. The commander, 1SG and MFT should determine the balance between cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular endurance, and muscular strength training required to accomplish the established goals. Using the frequency principles reflected in the "FITT" chart, commanders can plan physical training for the unit. An example of a BFPT program based on the analysis of the one METL task may look like the sample calendar below.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1 Nautilus circuit
Chinup/lower back workout
3-mile terrain run
Wind sprints with equipment
6 x 60 yards
Obstacle course
Developmental stretch
PRE circuit
Rope climb
5-mile run with LCE
Developmental stretch
Week 2 Sandbag circuit
Stair/rope climb
Interval training
Developmental stretch
CASEVAC relay race
Nautilus circuit
3-mile last man up run
Developmental stretch
Week 3 Obstacle course
Developmental stretch
Nautilus circuit
4-mile fartlek run
Developmental stretch
3-mile stretcher run Sandbag circuit
Week 4 PRE circuit
3.5-mile terrain run
Wind sprints with equipment
8 x 60 yards
6-mile run with LCE
Developmental stretch
Nautilus circuit
Rope climb
Grass/guerrilla drill
Developmental stretch

Many Army schools emphasize the APFT. Commanders who use the BFPT program should not be concerned about soldiers passing the APFT because a properly designed BFPT program prepares soldiers for the APFT and, more importantly, prepares units for combat.


(1.) Congratulations on the article on weight/obesity. It's about time someone recognized the problem. At 6' 1", as a teenager, I never weighed more than 175. The day I joined the Army in 1951, I weighed 171. Sixteen weeks later, coming out of basic training, I weighed 205. Still, about half of my basic company lost weight, so something was done right.

I recall bitterly saying goodbye in 1978 to one of the best SFCs(Sergeant First Class) I've ever seen because he couldn't make the weight back in the days when there was no pinch tests, etc. It certainly didn't effect his performance. Shortly before my retirement in 1982, I had a Master Sergeant working for me who was built along the lines of a bear; always on the fat-boy program; and never looked too good in his uniform. But he won the Medal of Honor with the Big Red One in May of 1969 in Vietnam. His size didn't keep him from being one hell of a Soldier when it counted.

(I inadvertently left out the name of the "Big Red One" Medal of Honor winner I told about. His name was Jim Bondsteel. After he left my unit, he went to Alaska. He hadn't been there long and was driving across a two-lane bridge and was meeting a huge logging truck pulling a double trailer. The second, four-wheel, trailer broke loose and hit Jim head on, killing instantly. That must have been 1986 or so. Isn't that a hell of a note?)

I work at Fort Sam Houston, home of the military's medical programs. Since the PT test stopped including anything but pushups, sit-ups, and the two mile run, I've never seen a single Soldier doing anything but those three. As one Army doctor remarked to me, "We're building an Army of bird bodies who can run 10K in shorts and Adidas, but couldn't put on BDUs, kevlar, weapon and a full field pack and carry it all day up and down hills if their lives depended on it". Which it well might. From my experience in Korean and Vietnam Wars, it's the guys with the fullback builds who were first up the hills and still going at the end of the day. I couldn't make the weight in today's Army, but I think I was a pretty darned good Soldier and, even though overweight by today's standards, it didn't stop me from going to two Asian wars.


Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company "A", 2d Battalion, 2d Infantry,1st Infantry Division.

Place and date: An Loc Province, Republic of Vietnam, 24 May 1969.
Entered service at: Detroit, Mich.
Born: 18 July 1947, Jackson, Mich.


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. SSG Bondsteel distinguished himself while serving as a platoon sergeant with Company "A", near the village of Lang Sau. Company "A" was directed to assist a friendly unit which was endangered by intense fire from a North Vietnamese Battalion located in a heavily fortified base camp. SSG Bondsteel quickly organized the men of his platoon into effective combat teams and spearheaded the attack by destroying 4 enemy occupied bunkers. He then raced some 200 meters under heavy enemy fire to reach an adjoining platoon which had begun to falter. After rallying this unit and assisting their wounded, SSG Bondsteel returned to his own sector with critically needed munitions. Without pausing he moved to the forefront and destroyed 4 enemy occupied bunkers and a machinegun which had threatened his advancing platoon. Although painfully wounded by an enemy grenade, SSG Bondsteel refused medical attention and continued his assault by neutralizing 2 more enemy bunkers nearby. While searching one of these emplacements SSG Bondsteel narrowly escaped death when an enemy Soldier detonated a grenade at close range. Shortly thereafter, he ran to the aid of a severely wounded officer and struck down an enemy Soldier who was threatening the officer's life. SSG Bondsteel then continued to rally his men and led them through the entrenched enemy until his company was relieved. His exemplary leadership and great personal courage throughout the 4-hour battle ensured the success of his own and nearby units, and resulted in the saving of numerous lives of his fellow Soldiers. By individual acts of bravery he destroyed 10 enemy bunkers and accounted for a large toll of the enemy, including 2 key enemy commanders. His extraordinary heroism at the risk of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army. ----------------------------------------------------------

(2.) I am an Army Lieutenant and concerning overweight Soldiers I have a somewhat unique perspective. I am constantly watching my weight. In High School I was a competition power lifter. I weighed 300 and could crush most people twice my age. But now I am 200, 5 pounds within my limit. Close but that's as good as it gets. And you are right that fast, lightweight Soldiers are not necessary more fit. When I had to take the dreaded tape test my final time as a cadet I had come within 1 percent of not passing, but you know what? My APFT score was 280, my run time was 12:30. How do you explain it? Also my ruck at any given time would weigh 120 pounds. Usually carrying crap that the little people couldn't.

Definitely, the Army needs to rethink its policy on weight. Maybe increase the APFT minimum to say 200 instead of 180 and ease up on the weight. Encourage Soldiers to put on some muscle at the gym. Right now very few use weights and many use the stationary bikes, tread mills, or aerobics. Force them to get in shape. I suspect that if there is more of an emphasis on the APFT itself that the overweight will fall into place.

Physical Fitness is a Soldier responsibility. How come? Why is it not a commander's responsibility or the Platoon Leader's? It is but if a Soldier doesn't pass his/her APFT no one wants to hear that for the last six months this Soldier has been in the motor pool busting his/her knuckles from 0500 to 2300 every day, trying to improve the unit readiness. Leaders always can cut out for a couple of hours to run or workout, but not Soldiers. This idea needs to change. PT should be a time where it is hands off. If we are going to hold them to this standard we better make them pass it. PT is the only standard in the Army where we place all the responsibility for success or failure is on the Soldier alone.

(By An Army Lt.)

"I've seen people in very good condition fail in athletic competition because they were not conditioned sport specifically. I know a man who ran a 4:10 mile, squatted 500+, and benched 340, but was too tired to continue after going through the first twenty minutes of high school wrestling practice. I've been in similar condition and literally couldn't jump anymore after playing full court basketball for a similar amount of time. Your body is like an old mule in that it adapts to the conditions it has to operate under and becomes just efficient enough to accomplish the tasks given to it. You can be good at running the mile and lifting weights but your not good at playing basketball or wrestling. That's why sport specific training has become so popular. you must train for the event you plan to participate in. If you don't actually imitate trying to read a map and communicate from a vehicle moving off road, physical training of all kinds won't prepare you.

Being in good condition isn't enough. When your adrenalin starts flowing and you are trying to do physical movement that you haven't practiced, your body works twice as hard trying to do these tasks. That's why muscle memory is imperative for teaching you to do a task effectively. The more time your mind has to spent accomplishing physical tasks, the less time is robbed from doing the simplest of thinking processes. That's why it's critical that you practice all mental tasks under the physical stress that you will be performing them under. If you prepare for the physical and the mental separately, you will fail in both when you pair them.

I've been thinking about how I'd train somebody to prepare for the EIB (stay with me, I'm getting to the subject). This is just an example, but take the claymore or mine section. I'd have the you assemble and disassemble the mine 500 times in the prescribed manor. Them I'd move on too teaching you to it under physical and mental stress. I'd set up a course at least 100 meters long. I'd set you down on one end and have you assemble and disassemble the mines under time limits, two or three times. Then I'd start adding some "proper stress" to increase the difficulty. I'd have you do ten pushups and ten sit ups, sprint 100 meters under twelve seconds, immediately do another ten pushups and sit ups, jump up and sprint another 100 meters under twelve seconds and go immediately back to the assembly and disassembly of the mines under under time pressure. Repeat this process to human failure (which won't take too long).

If you did this with men of different ages but similar fitness levels, you'd notice an earlier failure rate with older men in the initial days of training. after doing this for a week or so you'd see virtually no difference. Everyone would have adapted to the new levels of stress and they would overcome the problem. It's a fact that as you age, you don't adapt as quickly as someone younger. I don't think anyone actually knows why at this juncture ( saying you're just getting old is bullshit that doesn't tell us anything specifically) but it's a fact.

One of the theories that make the most sense (at least to me) is that the older you get the less you do physically, because you've become more efficient in your duties (usually you have other people do it for you). Maybe you keep in shape but you don't perform the physical tasks that most younger people do regularly. Maybe you even train other people how to do it, but you don't do it yourself under field conditions very often, and that's what make you proficient (efficient).

Men like Patton and Rommel were continually practicing the skills they needed to command on the move. This gave them a mastery over their opponents that is always referred to as brilliant. I don't see the brilliance at all (particularly in Patton's case). They simply did everything more efficiently. This translates into less effort and greater speed then their enemies. Both of these men worked on staying mentally and physically connected. Rommel even performed maintenance on tanks during the German invasion of France, And Patton played Polo well into his fifties and fought on the move from a staff car during the famous mobile warfare experiments in 1939. There opponents could not match their flexibility.

If our field grades, don't practice leadership under the physically and mentally stressful conditions in training they will not succeed in doing it in under fire. They need to get into a tank or 577 and practice commanding on the move if they ever hope to do for real.

Emery Nelson
Soldier and football coach

In the Spring 2002 issue of U.S. Army Infantry magazine, a retired infantry Major writes:


I was very interested in the World War II article on "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell and his walk out of Burma (Infantry, May-August 2000).

There is a clear lesson to be learned from this account: The most necessary exercise is long-distance marching. In my view, they ought to scrap the current PT test (pushups, situps, run) for a four-mile march with a standard uniform and weapon.

This would have two immediate re-sults:

First, it would do away with the perception of "gender norming."

True or not, the charge remains because of the different standards for men and women. All Soldiers should have to complete the march in the same passing time. If my memory serves me correctly, a forced-march pace is historically four miles in 50 minutes. If a Soldier can't do that, he or she does not belong in any service!

The second effect of this reform would be to give loyal commanders more flexibility to implement their own PT programs. Right now, most units do the same thing every day-pushups, situps, and run-because that's what's on the PT test. This new PT test requires no special training or facilities; just ramp up the marching one month out from the test.

Finally, while we're at it, let's do away with the photo for the promotion boards-and the weight control program!

If you can pass the PT test, who cares what you look like?

Good walking!

MAJ, U.S. Army, Retired
Roswell, New Mexico

Even grandma can PT, but can she ruck?

Want Pvt Murphy in your pocket?

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