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Possible US Military fitness standards

I have a possibly unrealistic definition of what it is to be “fit”. If you can do it in twice the time of the world record then you’re good to go. No, not a good athlete but you meet my rough and ready standard of fit. The mile is 4 minutes or so. So, if you can run two miles in 16 minutes then you meet my standard. And that’s not, if we’re honest about it, all that tough a target. This is a near 4 hour marathon if continued for that distance. Something thousands upon thousands manage at every public race. Yes, OK, a marathon is harder than two miles but…..

And now?

Specifically, without a separate, minimum standard for combat arms, the requirements to join the nation’s combat forces could soon be as low as performing ten push-ups in two minutes, running two miles in twenty-one minutes, deadlifting 140 pounds three times, and performing only one repetition of a leg tuck or, failing that, two minutes of a plank exercise.

The British tests are here. They look superficially similar. But they’re minimum entry level for the Army, not for combat roles……

30 thoughts on “Possible US Military fitness standards”

  1. There aren’t any proper wars on the horizon, the US military could be a fraction of its current size to do the job, so that leaves a lot for politicians to play with. Buying votes of feminists, creating local jobs building overpriced bits for F-35s.

    The people should demand it be smaller, but having watched US TV, I’ve noticed that the military has the same sort of place in US culture as the NHS does here. No politician is going to suggest making it smaller, but they can take advantage of the money going into it.

  2. Not long back I saw a ‘marketing’ video for the CCP armed forces.

    Great video, but frightening. No overweight under-performing dudes in there. I know most battles will not be infantry v. infantry and I know that our Special Services maintain their highest standards of fitness and capability (I hope).

    But seeing what has happened to the police and armed services in terms of being ‘weight-challenged’ I really hope most of them will not be responsible for my safety.

    Fat, unfit and weak people and armed forces are NOT compatible.

  3. But seeing what has happened to the police and armed services in terms of being ‘weight-challenged’ I really hope most of them will not be responsible for my safety

    Don’t worry, the armed forces aren’t there to protect your safety. And neither are the cops.

  4. “Yes, OK, a marathon is harder than two miles….”

    To say the least. My rough rule that you can expect doubling the distance to require 4 times as much training to keep the same pace. This has held good for my 5k, 10k and half-marathon running. Anyone thinking that running 2 miles in 16 minutes would equate to running a marathon in 4 hours is seriously deluding themselves.

    Meantime, I’m 58 and my last half marathon was run at an average pace of 5′ 15″ per km so could fit in the army 2k test somewhere en route and still pass it which is a bit worrying as I wouldn’t class myself as a ‘runner’.

  5. “This is a near 4 hour marathon if continued for that distance. Something thousands upon thousands manage at every public race”

    People entering marathons are of course a self-selecting bunch of masochists. The large majority will have done a lot of training. From public records, around 25% of those entering break the 4 hour mark. If you break 3 hours (and 2 hours 59 minutes would get you nowhere in elite running) you’re in the top 2%.

  6. When I worked for the MetPol back in the 80’s there was a copper based at Kennington nick who was so overweight they had to build a special desk to accommodate his belly. Needless to say, he didn’t go out on many patrols.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    When I joined we didn’t have a fitness test, but hen we didn’t have loads of tech to keep us busy so we we’re all reasonably fit.

    Times have changed and the Army and all is looking for is something to work with and a bit of commitment from those joining and they don’t want to waste their time with no-hopers.

  8. I remember stalingrad Anthony’s Beevor had that annoying (might have provided colour but it didn’t half fatten the book out) habit of quoting private soldiers letters home or diaries. I remember one soldier saying it was the meatheads who died first of hunger. I suppose the lesson, as all ways, don’t be invading Russia with your land armies.

  9. Doesn’t matter how unfit you are so long as you tick all the diversity boxes and are aiming at being carbon neutral by 2050.

  10. FWIW, the RAF’s standards are available at Annex D of these joining instructions. when I was in, you had to be in the green zone for your age and sex for all test components (press ups, sit ups and MSFT, aka bleep test) twice a year to avoid being put on remedial phys. If you got in the light or dark blue zones the period to your next fitness test was to a year (I think – I can’t find a copy of AP3342,Leaflet 402 online, just the test standard annex), on the grounds you had to be reasonably dedicated to phys to get to those standards and that it would take a while to descend below the green level.

    The Rock Apes also had to do a battlefield fitness assessment – I forget exactly what they called it – which was an absolute standard, not based on age.

  11. Yet another Chris

    Bloody hell, what a low standard. I’m 72 and I can do all of that, although the deadlift could be a problem as I have a hernia and the waiting list for the op is getting longer. Three of my four kids (35, 39 and 44 years) would smash it.

  12. running two miles in twenty-one minutes

    That’s just a bit shorter than it takes me to walk two miles. (Well, in the beforetimes when I had to go to the office.)

  13. YaC,

    Just as an aside, there are a couple of lads at work, both suffering from hernias.

    Both suffering tremendously, but still soldiering on.

    One of thems been waiting 6 months to get an op scheduled, the other cant find anyone who can tell him whats specifically wrong, despite being in agony whenever he lifts anything.

    Envy of the world or what?

  14. “When I joined we didn’t have a fitness test…” But then we were teenagers, built like whippets. As a boy soldier like yourself we seemed to spend a disproportionate amount of time running up and down something or other, in my case every hill in the Snowdonia National Park. Alas it doesn’t last. I recall running in a cross country race in my mid to late 20s and realising I was no longer the man I was at 18 years of age. It continued downhill from there on.

  15. “If you can do it in twice the time of the world record then you’re good to go.”

    That is an interesting definition. I did an ironman triathlon at the age of 58. The world record is about seven hours and thirty five minutes, I did it in just under fifteen hours. The cut off time is seventeen hours and you would have to be pretty fit just to finish within the time.

    Regarding the shorter runs, just after my 60th birthday I did the parkrun in 21 minutes, 5k or around 3 miles so an average of seven minutes per mile.

  16. Yet another Chris

    Yes, BiB, envy of the world. I can’t get any dates for the op. At least I don’t have to work, although I still do a few months per annum – nothing physical, just research and writing the reports. But our now empty five-bed house (near Bath, Timmy) with 0.25 acres keeps me fit.

  17. Oooh, where near Bath?

    I actually remain convinced that the valley – passing Avoncliff – from Bradford on Avon up toward Bath is actually that little corner of England God made for himself. But then I think I might be influenced by it being so much a part of childhood, those walks along the canal etc.

    I’ve even had the thought – given the amount of work involved one I then try to forget – that would could write the entire industrial history of the country with what you can see from one spot on that. Just where the Somerset Coal Canal joins the Kennet and Avon one. The Slow and Dirty goes under the hill just there too, there’s the GWR line to Weymouth and you could write pretty much the whole IR history as viewed from the evidence on that spot. Add in the stunning Georgian house next village over, Combe Hay, and you could get from slavery to the 125 and today.

  18. Yet another Chris

    Wiltshire in a village near Longleat with amazing views. We moved here from oop north 35 years ago for my job – a consultancy in Bath. The choice of residence was somewhat limited back then. With 4 kids we wanted five bedrooms and detached. Only six houses on the market in Somerset or Wiltshire – cheaper to buy and lower Council Tax. We drove out of Bath towards Frome and we were stunned by the beauty. Compared to our village in the north, near Southport, it was amazing and immediately seduced us. Also it felt like we had gone back to the 1950s.
    We’ve never regretted it, although being so far from the sea is a downside as I was born in Whitley Bay (of London parents) and my wife in Southport.
    You’re right about the industrial heritage. There is so much to see out towards Shepton Mallet. But then I was brought up in Worsley near the Bridgewater estate and its yellow/orange canals, several coal mines and cotton mills.
    Wow, it’s wine o’clock!
    Cheers Chris

  19. I’ve never been timed over two miles but in my forties I did 5 miles in just under 30 min – I would not have considered myself anywhere near fit and still should not if I took 16 minutes to run two miles.

  20. I sneeze in threes

    Some while ago I remember seeing other matelots who were so fat they wouldn’t fit through a kidney hatch. So always make sure you get up the ladder first if your compartment is taking in water.

  21. The us military has lower standards to *get in* but there are higher standards to get out of basic training.

    In addition, there are standards by age – those numbers listed could be for 70 year olds.

  22. We want people fit enough in an emergency right? So I want Great Britain to select recruits who can run 2 miles in 16 minutes just after an Army breakfast. They shouldn’t know when the trial is coming ‘cos you never know when that siren will sound.
    Puking would be allowed.

  23. Way, way, back in the day, as the world’s worst twenty-year-old officer-cadet, I had to be able to run three miles in 21 minutes (used to be 24 minutes, but that was in boots, and the 1980s Boot Combat High destroyed your Achilles tendons if you did anything strenuous in them, so we did Basic Fitness Tests in trainers with a minute a mile less allowed)

    Two decades later, trying again with the Navy (who don’t have as much running to the sound of the guns to do) I still had to do a mile and a half in twelve minutes forty seconds if I wanted to pass my BRNC course.

    That’s just the basic minimum for all the rear-area types whose main armament is a Microsoft Excel pivot table; if you’re likely to be stabbing people in the face with gun knives, your fitness standards are higher (more distance, and more weight carried)

  24. They’ve done something similar before, but with intelligence:

    Inductees of the project died at higher rates than other Americans serving in Vietnam and following their service had lower incomes and higher rates of divorce than their non-veteran counterparts.

    It’s basically part of a push to ‘Diversify’ the US military by the Biden regime.,000

  25. Surreptitious Evil

    I’m so old that there wasn’t a fitness test when I joined up as a Midshipman (I wasn’t the world’s worst middie, we had somebody else clearly in that category in my intake 🙂 )

    We did do phys at Dartmouth – with poor (or terrible) warmups, wearing blancoed plimsolls (aka “pusser’s daps”) outside rather than training shoes or even boots. Typical exercises including running up hills carrying another trainee. Oh, and the rope climbing. What fun.

    The RN having already (unsurprisingly given the above) badly damaged me by the time I popped out in to the Fleet proper, I’ve been largely banned from any form of PT during my post-naval reserve time. When we still had lots of wars to go to, I occasionally had to prove to a PTI that I could speed-walk around the mobilisation centre at Chilwell for a couple of miles, wearing body armour and carrying a rifle and a weighted daysack, to show that I wasn’t going to be a liability while wielding a laptop @ Basra or Bastion.

    Bastion was interesting – because of the extensive walking just to get from accom to work to food etc. Without actually ‘going anywhere’. Basra had a bus service. Now also banned from phys due to advanced age.

  26. @BlokeInTejas
    Fwiw I regularly walk 2.3 miles in 15 to 17 minutes.

    If you can walk at 9 miles an hour you’d be in the running for an Olympic gold (if you could keep it up for 25 or 50km).

  27. I sneeze in threes

    At Raleigh the RN had us vaulting over wooden horses. I always assumed it was some sort of preparation should circumstances find us in a German POW camp.

  28. @ Chris Miller
    The very few guys who can walk at more than 9 mph for a mile or two mostly qualify for the Olympics even though they are slower over 50km than two miles.
    I ran a 1500m against Dan King (the twin brother of Dominic who walked in the Rio Olympics) a couple of years ago: he lapped me (in a 1500m!).

  29. @john77
    Racewalkers have to be ridiculously fit because their mode of propulsion is so ludicrously inefficient compared to running. It’s the track equivalent of backstroke in swimming, gives a medal opportunity to those who aren’t quite good enough to win freestyle.

    You may remember a former actuarial colleague of ours who held many of the long distance UK road tricycle records (including Lands End to John O’Groats). Impressive achievements, even though, as he said, he wasn’t in the running for the bicycle equivalents.

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