Army physical fitness standards
Army physical fitness standards seem to intimidate a lot of Soldiers.
We are taught in the Army to be tough and if we feel weak to never show it to those around us.
This mindset has caused more harm then good.
I totally support our leaders in motivating their troops to want to meet and exceed standards but sometimes respectful, but tough love is in order.
It doesn’t mean belittling those in uniform. We all have strengths and weaknesses.
I know a weakness of mine is doing push ups.
My personal best for the army physical fitness test is 371 that I scored in basic training and I have tried to set the example for the Soldiers that I have worked with and been in charge of in my 12 years of active duty service.
Army physical fitness standards need not be a hindrance to Soldiers but there has to be a mindset change.
We all can master pretty much any skill but the tenacity and focus one needs to do so is not often understood well.
The level of commitment is high and one needs to find joy in doing an activity that most have subconsciously conditioned themselves into believing is painful.
It comes down to how we can motivate Soldiers to want to turn their fitness and lifestyle around and that takes work.
I have talked with numerous Soldiers over the past 12 years who have asked me numerous questions on how to perform better on the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT).
Army physical fitness standards were set up by someone else.
They don’t define you yet I cannot count the number of times Soldiers have discussed with me in private that they feel inferior because they are weak on an event or cannot pass their physical fitness test.
No one is going to hold your hand and tell you to get your rear end out the door to run or better your upper body or core strength.
This is a decision you have to make.
I remember doing a morning run with my battery when I was stationed at Fort Campbell.
There was a young Private First Class who was dropped on a run and felt back. I ran back to ensure he had someone with him.
He was suffering but all I could think about was ‘this kid doesn’t have to endure this if he just makes a few changes’.
I’ll tell you what I told him.
Workout when your superiors aren’t. Expect more out of yourself then they will ever expect out of you.
The weekends is where you do your damage.
Soldiers work hard. We deal with long hours, time away from our family and deploy to some of the host desolate and dangerous areas on the globe.
That being said, many Soldiers like candy, playing video games and partying.
Everything in moderation but too much time spent in one area is time that could be spent on the most important aspect outside of your family life and that is your health.
There comes a time when you have to stop whining about not being able to pass the army physical fitness test and simply make a few changes.
Stop idolizing others who are better then you and find out what they are doing and tweak their method to work for you
I’d be a rich man by now if I had a dime for every time I heard a Soldier say, ‘I wish I could run like you’.
I am about as normal as it gets. I have always had a hard time playing the military game. I tend to question what most won’t and expect more out of myself then most.
There is no difference between me and the Soldiers I have worked with.
Imay be good at running but I am good because it is something I have put all of my focus and energy toward.
I have demanded action out of myself and doing things I am afraid of doing.
You have to ask more out of yourself then others can ever conceive of asking of you so that you can live on your own standards.
This goes far beyond the APFT but will leave that one alone.
I have a descent grasp on exercise physiology and kinesiology but the 22 medics I was in charge of at Fort Campbell would make my knowledge look like middle school lunch break.
It is all about how persistence and patient you are.
There are far too many people in our American society and I would suspect around the world who want results now.
They don’t want to work long enough and don’t believe in delayed gratification.
We have fast food restaurants where you can go at anytime to feed your hunger.
We live in a fast paced, instant gratification world.
What is going to set you apart from your peers is your willingness to hurt just a little longer, to commit more tenaciously, to want to succeed as badly as you want to breathe.
There is a big difference between want and doing.
Do everything in your power to seek out the knowledge to do the latter.
You have to have an action plan to surpass your army physical fitness standards
Physical fitness doesn’t work like that. Instant results in your physiology takes weeks, months and years and depending on what your specific fitness goals are, a decade.
It took me 18 years of running to accomplish a feat that I envisioned for years, running under 2 hours and 20 minutes for the marathon distance.
The day I attained that standard I held 5.19 per mile pace for 26.2 consecutive miles. I didn’t get there by wishing.
It took a level of drive and focus that I don’t think I could express in a post.
I often wonder who made up our current army physical fitness standards.
Overall, I think the standards that must be met in order to score 100 points on each section of the test is reasonable.
That being said, everyone is different. What is reasonable to me may be utterly impossible to someone else.
I’ll let it be known I am not a fan of the word impossible. I think every goal is attainable.
What is not in fashion these days is working 5, 10, 15, 25 years to match what someone with more talent may have accomplished in 1 year.
What others see as impossible I see as this. A task that one may have to ask years of dedication of complete devotion in order to achieve.
The problem is most don’t want to work that long and hard. They’d rather memorize football stats and party with their homeboys and girlfriends.
I’m not saying having some downtime to enjoy your friends and family isn’t a necessity.
You have to enjoy life but you also can’t rely on conditioning yourself into believing you are less then you are as a service member based on a APFT score.
You can’t buy into the old adage that someone is simply more talented then you and that you simply aren’t a good runner, are lousy at push ups or weak in doing sit ups.
Change your mindset. Adjust your lifestyle. Associate with people who are going to inspire you to progress higher in your fitness.
If you want to see a change in your physical fitness then you have to make up your mind that change will come and take action to make those changes come to fruition.
Surpassing army physical fitness standards is demanding for me as well.
I never really had a problem with the 2-mile run because for the past 23 years of my life I have spent so much of my time building my cardiovascular system.
It still takes work.
Push ups and sit ups I have had to work harder at because they are components of the army physical fitness test that take more action on my part to overcome.
How do you change your mindset?
Ask yourself this question.
What am I great at doing?
Why is that? What makes you so good at your craft? What separates you from someone else?
The individual who does not match your skill level is not inferior to you. They simply haven’t focused and committed to the level that you have in that area.
I have worked around some of the most elegant, knowledgeable and skilled public speakers in the military who seem as if they are on autopilot in front of a crowd.
That being said, since I was in middle school I have always been an introvert, like being alone and have always been fearful of public speaking.
As a military officer I have been forced to deal with pubic speaking.
It is a part of my life that I like doing because it is something I have feared and every time I get up to talk I know I am attacking that fear and getting out of my comfort zone.
You will change the way you feel about the army physical fitness test when you start lifting the limitations that you have placed on yourself subconsciously and begin to take actionable steps to master the standards set by big Army.
What does surpassing army physical fitness standards mean?
Anyone who knows me knows I can be demanding but I am also extremely down to earth and have a different method to my madness in motivating others then my peers of equal rank or higher.
I don’t think we as leaders in our Armed Services can get by anymore by punishing Soldiers for not meeting our standards.
Soldiers who fail to score the minimum standards on the Army Physical Fitness Test must re-take the entire APFT within three months.
That being said, time limits can be adjusted if the Soldier has an approved medical profile.
According, to another regulation that some other higher up wrote, Army Regulation 600-8-2, also called Suspension of Favorable Personnel Actions, Soldiers will be flagged.
Flagged is a beautifully created acronym (one of many) that states when a Soldier fails to meet certain physical fitness standards they will not be eligible for reenlistment, enlistment extensions or promotion.
A form of punishment for not meeting someone else’s standard.
By surpassing I simply mean mastering your own weaknesses, whether they be mental or physical.
If all you are doing is trying to please your superiors you are not thinking correctly.
Your superiors, co-workers and peers should not have to ask you to get up to make a physical training formation.
Sadly, these things take place in our Armed Forces due to the fact that unless they were not to occur, many Soldiers would not have the motivation to workout.
This is your health. It is not partying with your boys or girls on the weekends.
It isn’t about how many points you scored on Grand theft auto or how many beers you took down at the club over the weekend.
What difference does it make how many military badges you have or what rank you are if you have not lifted your standards high enough to achieve something far more important, your health and defeating what you thought you couldn’t do?
Sometimes it just means cutting 45 minutes out of your playtime to focus on commit time.
Observe your actions in your fitness past.
Write down the reasons why you have had a hard time passing or achieving a specific army physical fitness test score and what you plan to do to change that reality.
It is a lifestyle change and commitment and you are going to have to seek out the motivation wherever you can get it to break loose of the limitations that have been holding you back.
Don’t leave it up to thinking you simply aren’t good at any of the three sections of the test.
Instead of telling yourself what you are weak at, make an action plan and attack that weak link.
The only limiting factor in deciding if you are truly weak in any area of your life is yourself.
Your worth as military member is not comprised of wearing a combat patch and wearing every badge known to mankind on your sleeve.
Let me explain.
I almost couldn’t believe my ears today as I was having lunch with one of my Army Captain Career Course classmates.
All Captains, if they want to climb the military corporate ladder must attend the Captain’s Career Course to make the next rank, Major.
My classmate told me he feels less of an Officer because he does not have a combat patch.
He held the rank of Major in the Air Force, transferred to the Army because he wanted more of a challenge and is one of the smartest members of my class.
He holds a Bachelors degree in Environmental Engineering and a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering but he has fell prey to the military mindset that at times stereotypes Soldiers into believing they are less if they can’t pass a APFT test, have not deployed or are missing a badge.
Your worth is defined by you, not by your boss, not your rank, not your background.
The sooner you fully grasp that idea the faster you will be set up for success.
There is no one in the world who is like you and you have to make up your mind how efficient you want your health to be.
Think about that.
There are over 7 billion people on the planet and untold numbers of souls who have passed on but no one was ever created that was just like you.
The moment you think you are less based on comparing yourself to someone else who scores higher on their physical fitness test you need to stop, re-charge and re-focus.
Think for yourself.
Don’t let other think for you because more often then not you will always have someone in your ranks who will gladly do it for you.
Be respectful of your peers but also learn to think for yourself. Ask the tough questions others around you are too timid to ask. It also means asking more out of yourself in your health.
Goals have to start in the mind before they ever become a reality
Physical fitness demands attention.
You won’t make changes on your army physical fitness score by laying on your couch visualizing seeing your First Sergeant writing down a passing score on your APFT card.
It does not work like that.
We can find time to master a video game score, talk about some football stat or team because we have spent umpteenth amount of hours focusing on something that isn’t going to do one thing for us rather then taking 30 to 40 additional minutes out of our 24-hour day to change our reality.
Listening to politicians isn’t going to affect your bank account.
Wasting time watching Jersey Shore comprised of sell outs who sold their souls for fame is not going to change your fitness level, your life in anyway.
Television ‘programming’ (ever wonder why they call it that?) is a mental fart that stinks to high heaven that far too many people waste their time and energy on.
People will spend their time clinging to the words of some beloved politician, watch endless hours watching listening to repetitive news stories but won’t spend equal amounts of time focusing on strengthening their bodies.
I have learned very well that personal study and having very factual knowledge backed by expert resources in very specific areas is not going to change someone else’s closed mind.
Think of all the things you could do if you had the mindset that you could not possibly fail at it.
Act on that thought.
It is always the hardest in the beginning when we are building our fitness. The problem is far too many people give in before they have ever realized their full potential.
Stop saying you have always been poor at an event and start making the necessary changes in your mental and physical life to see a redirection of your results.
There is a powerful verse in the Bible that I will leave you with.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things – Philippians 4:8
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