ArmyTimes Link: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2011/04/army-test-takers-offer-advice-opinions-on-new-prt-040211w/
As an eager Army awaits the details, soldiers have been sharing their views on the new fitness test. They have voiced full support, utter frustration — and everything in between.
The Army’s top officer said that the new dual-test approach is “a good innovation” and that it is time for change.
“It is focused on measuring the things ... that they need in combat,” Gen. George Casey, Army chief of staff, said in an interview with Army Times. “It's moving a little bit away from endurance being everything, aerobic endurance, and to measuring different strengths.”
Capt. LaRue Robinson, an administrative law attorney at Fort Knox, Ky., also gave thumbs up, saying the new PT test will go “miles” in preventing future injuries.
“The old one did a terrible job of measuring total physical fitness, and sit-ups are bad for your back and spine,” she said in an email to Army Times. “I know many soldiers will complain … but most will see the benefits sooner or later.”
Sgt. Tony Yang isn’t so sure. A member of the 12th Psychological Operations Battalion in Mountain View, Calif., Yang liked the idea of a new test but found the changes “puzzling.”
“The test will take twice as long to conduct and require more resources than a good stopwatch and a track,” he said in an email to Army Times. “Reservists who have little time outside of battle assembly to train to excel in the new PT test will suffer disproportionately compared to the active duty army, [which has] free, convenient gym facilities, mandated PT sessions and daily scrutiny.”
Monitoring form also may prove challenging. Although many instructors said the standing long jump consumes “a ton of time,” others saw the rower as the most challenging to administer.
“There are really a lot of points to watch,” said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Heilman, a drill sergeant with Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment. “Even experienced graders can get burnout just paying attention,” he told Army Times.
James Culak, an ROTC cadet at the University of Tampa, ditched the traditional running, push-ups and sit-ups and implemented the PRT program this semester. The battalion’s APFT average has increased, and overuse injuries have decreased.
“It is a shame that we have been in combat for almost 10 years and we are just now beginning to implement a new PT test that will be more combat specific,” Culak said in an email to Army Times. “How many soldiers could we have saved from [medical retirement] had we just implemented a better system of preparing their bodies physically for the demands of combat, instead of worrying how many times they can flex their spines in two minutes?”
But self-described “old timer” Sgt. First Class Laurie Schultz is concerned about how older soldiers will handle the new events.
“I believe that this PT test forced on anyone over 40 is asking for major injuries,” she said. “Asking anyone over 50 to perform an APFT is wrong.”
This concern was echoed by Col. Kevin Madden, defense and Army attaché in Seoul, South Korea. He said in an email to Army Times that it was right to shorten the run and push-ups to a more “anaerobically demanding” distance and time, but feels the standing long-jump should be axed.
“The inclusion of an event that cannot be substantially improved unless incredible effort is invested ... is not an effective measure of readiness or fitness — just genetic potential,” said Madden, who has more than three decades of experience coaching track and field at all levels and disciplines. “Consideration should also be given to the degradation of the fibers, ligaments and tendons caused by aging. After age 30, the ability to jump becomes significantly impaired. Continuous jumping will accelerate the development of arthritis and bursitis in all but the most hearty of soldiers.”
Rather than focus on the new events, many soldiers such as Staff Sgt. Michael Howard are simply happy to see the end of sit-ups.
“They are bad for your cervical spine,” the North Carolina National Guard paramedic said. “I can't do them as well as the other events. I can still hump a 40-pound ruck up a mountain and run like a deer. So what does making sit-ups measure? Nothing.”
A number of others were unhappy that pull-ups weren’t included in the new test. Hertling agreed that the pull-up is the best measure for upper body strength. But he and the team of 16 fitness and nutrition experts that built the test didn’t include pull-ups because they wanted men and women to do the same exercises.
“Some folks will say it’s too hard and some folks will say it’s too easy,” Hertling said. “But once they apply this, they’ll find this approach to training and testing is the right way to achieve and maintain the type of fitness today’s soldier needs.”
Part 1 Here
Part 2 Here