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The US Army’s New Fitness Test Includes Deadlifts, Plank Hold

  • The US Army is preparing to update its fitness test from current 1980s standards.
  • The new test includes six events to assess strength, agility, coordination, and speed. 
  • Recruits are no longer scored based on age or gender, and standards are the same for everyone. 

The US Army is bringing its fitness into the current century, finally updating the physical combat readiness standards that were first established in the 1980s. The revisions will be rolled out this spring, Bloomberg reported. 

The new fitness test has been in the works for the past two years, in part because leadership complained recruits weren’t fit enough and suffered injuries, AP previously reported

Recruits will have to complete six tasks in two hours, designed to test a more complicated athletic skill set than the previous three-event test of push-ups, sit-ups, and running. 

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Testing no longer scores differently by age or gender

Old-school Army fitness testing included separate scoring tiers for men and women and different age groups, but that’s no longer the case for now, Bloomberg reported.

Previously, a man aged 22 to 26 needed 75 push-ups in two minutes for a perfect score, compared to 46 for a woman of the same age. 

The timed two mile run has been retained from the 1980s test, but adjusted so scoring is the same for all recruits. For perfect score on the run, you’d need to complete two miles in 13 minutes, 30 seconds; the minimum passing score is 21 minutes. 

Standard push-ups have been replaced with a deceptively hard variation 

A classic metric of military fitness, the two-minute session of push-ups on the test now demands recruits lower fully to the ground and lift their arms up and out to the side with each rep. Hand-release push-ups work the same muscles, but are more challenging, with a greater range of motion and a lack of momentum to power the movement. 

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The minimum passing score is 10 to 30, depending on role, with heavy jobs requiring a higher score. A perfect score requires 60 push-ups. 

The previous minimums were 30 to 35 standard push-ups for men, and 10 to 13 for women, in two minutes (or slightly fewer for older candidates). 

new army fitness test

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Tests of strength, speed, agility and coordination are designed for today’s combat requirements.

Gerry Broome/AP Photo


Sit-ups have been swapped for a plank hold or leg tuck pull-ups

Instead of the previous test’s two-minute sit-up trial, recruits now have the option of proving their core strength by either holding a plank or completing pull-ups that include tucking the knees to the chest. 

A passing score is one rep of the tuck pull-ups; 20 reps is a perfect score. To pass with a plank, you’d need to hold the position for at least two minutes, nine seconds. 

A minimum passing score on the previous version of the test required 29 to 47 sit-ups in two minutes for both men and women, depending on age group. 

Army deadlifts

US Army 1st Lt. Mitchel Hess participates in a weight lifting drill while preparing to be an instructor in the new Army combat fitness test at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Gerry Broome/AP Photo


Deadlifts have been added to test recruits’ ability to move heavy loads

An essential strength technique, deadlifts involve lifting a weight (often a barbell) from the floor to hip height. The full-body exercise is powered by big leg muscles like the glutes and hamstrings, with core and back muscles stabilizing. Military applications of the deadlift include hauling equipment or carrying causualties out of danger. 

The minimum passing score for deadlifts ranges from 140 to 200 pounds for three reps. To score perfectly, you’d have to complete three 340 pound deadlifts. 

New Army fitness test

Events like lifting heavy loads and throwing a weighted ball assess how well recruits can generate power to haul equipment or rescue the injured.

Gerry Broome/AP Photo


Medicine ball tosses and sprint drills assess power, agility, and coordination

To test upper-body power and coordination, recruits will also throw a 10-pound medicine ball overhead and behind them, tossing it at least 10 feet to pass, and 60 for a perfect score. 

The new test also evaluates speed and agility with a series of five 50-meter shuttle runs, starting and ending with an all-out sprint and including a sled push, weighted carry, and lateral shuffle. 

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