By Lisa Leath Turpin, Health and Wellness Coach
A person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies is a true Patriot! Every U.S. military branch has thousands of patriots physically ready to protect us at all cost. To be able to defend our nation, each branch has standards and testing for their physical readiness and shape. These men and women are at the top echelon for their strength and endurance. I went straight to Military.com to learn more about what the requirements are for each branch of the military.
Within the five branches (Army, Navy, Airforce, Marine Corps and Coast Guard), there are similarities but some substantial differences. The Army has made the biggest changes lately by replacing the pull-ups, sit-ups and two-mile run PFT from the 80’s.
Since 2022, the Army implemented six new exercises instead of those three of the past. The new six are: 3 rep max deadlifts (MDL), standing power throw (SPT: overhead medicine ball throw), hand-release push-ups (HRP: lift hands off floor during each rep in the down position when chest is on the floor), sprint, drag and carry (SDC: run, drag sled, carry 40 lb. dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand, run 2 x 25 meter distances of each), leg tuck (LTK: hanging knee ups from pull-up bar knees to elbows) and two-mile run (2MR). This change is for the Army Combat Fitness Test only; special ops and all other military branches still require push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups.
Instead of G.I. Joe (or Jane), most of us are “Average Joe or Jane;” but that doesn’t mean we can’t all benefit from a tactical style functional training routine as part of our healthy and fit regime. We can learn from these military fitness tests on how to hold ourselves accountable and set goals. Just like each branch sets standards by using reps over a set amount of time, you can make up your own. Push-ups and pull-ups measure your upper body strength, while deadlifts and sled pulls measure lower body strength.
Getting stronger takes time; it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. The key to getting stronger? Consistency. Basic controlled movement builds the most muscle, whereas combination movements build more endurance and synergy.
Let’s dissect the push-up from the basic military tests. How to do a good push-up: Starting in plank position, hands about shoulder width (or a smidge wider), lower your body all the way until chest touches the floor then push back up. Goal is full ROM (range of motion). In order to get ROM, you might need to modify by putting your knees down, using a counter top or even a wall if necessary. To get stronger, do the maximum you can do twice daily for 10 days, rest two days, then test yourself to see if you can do more reps, or if modifying, a stronger style and repeat until you can do a regular push-up. Note: Maximum is the amount you can do until you can’t keep your form or ROM anymore. You won’t want to keep up the cycle of 10 days on and two days off for long—that’s more of a strength push to do occasionally that I found and simplified what is suggested on military.com. You will get stronger if you do your best, work your hardest, stay consistent with two-three days/week, get full ROM and control your movement. The benefits of the push-up are toned arms and shoulders and the strength in the chest to help get up if you fall or need to catch yourself.
I want to say an EXTRA thank you to our military and families.