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New Army fitness test to feature strength, power events

Spc. Efren Gandara performs leg tucks during a pilot program for the Army Combat Readiness Test, a six-event assessment designed to reduce injuries and replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test, at Fort Lee, Va., Sept. 14, 2017.

SEAN KIMMONS/U.S. ARMY

By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 9, 2017

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — After almost 20 years of evaluating approaches to fitness, the Army will introduce a new, combat skill-centered fitness test in 2020.

The lead time gives the Army a chance to assess a pilot program, while giving soldiers around the world time to modify their existing fitness regimes.

“The Army has been talking about doing this for a long time, but with an end date in mind, we know this is for sure coming up,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Micheal Sutterfield, of U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria.

Grading is likely to go through many changes before 2020, but Sutterfield said that enough progress has been made that soldiers can safely begin planning for this type of test.

“There is a big difference in the mindset of what these two tests measure,” Sutterfield said. “The Army (physical fitness test) is a great test to measure someone’s overall fitness. But the (combat readiness test) measures explosive power, strength and the kind of fitness a soldier would need in combat.”

The CRT will be as minimally gender specific as possible, Sutterfield said. “It’s everyone’s job to be combat ready,” he said.

It consists of the following six events, encompassing a variety of muscle movements:

• Deadlift — A weighted bar is lifted off the ground. The more weight lifted, the higher the score.

• Standing power throw — The soldier lifts a weighted ball off the ground throws it behind them. The score is measured by distance thrown.

• T-pushup — A pushup, except the arms are extended to make a “T” shape at the bottom of the movement.

• Leg tuck — The soldier hangs from a bar and bring the knees up to the midsection.

• Spring/drag/carry — The soldier simulates sprinting into combat, then drags and carries another soldier out of the area.

• Two-mile run — This is the same, but expected to be more difficult after completing the earlier events.

“This is going to be a tough test,” Sutterfield said. “It’s going to show you really quick who eats right, who got a good night’s sleep and who is taking care of themselves.

“The key is holistic fitness, and focusing on preventing injuries. By doing these kinds of workouts, safely, you train your body to avoid injuries in the future.’”

The Marine Corps has used a combat-oriented test since 2009. It shares many features of the Army’s proposed CRT, including a focus on explosive power, and a sprint/drag/run event.

Marine Sgt. Ruben Poot, with Marine Corps Recruiting Station Twin Cities, said it’s about time the Army made changes. “It took them a while, but good on them,” Poot said.

He believes the new test will benefit the Army in much the same way a combat-centered test helped the Marine Corps.

“The end result will allow them to keep the best qualified soldiers around,” Poot said.

Soldiers in USAG Bavaria are also developing their own holistic health system, called the Bavarian Health Initiative, to help soldiers train for the new test, Sutterfield said.

“(The initiative) isn’t a response to the CRT, but it does share a lot of the same goals: reduce injuries and increase combat readiness,” Sutterfield said.

Part of the initiative’s goal is to improve functional fitness, which focuses on training muscles for everyday activities. Currently there is one functional fitness center on Grafenwoehr, but there are plans to open new gyms on other USAG Bavaria bases.

“We want our soldiers to be as healthy, and combat ready as possible,” Sutterfield said. “I think the (CRT) is a step in the right direction.”

egnash.martin@stripes.com
Twitter: @Marty_Stripes

 

Sgt. Bruna Galarza demonstrates the deadlift event during a pilot program for the Army Combat Readiness Test at Fort Lee, Va., Sept. 14, 2017.
SEAN KIMMONS/U.S. ARMY

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