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NousDefionsDoc 06-15-2008 21:59

New Army PT Program Coming
From Army Times:

By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Jun 14, 2008 6:45:30 EDT

FORT JACKSON, S.C. — An overhauled physical training program that links a soldier’s fitness and exercise to the demands of combat and long deployments is on its way to the operational Army.

A draft manual that spells out the changes is being reviewed by soldiers on a wide distribution list. But when approved — which could be within months — it will be the first change to the Army PT manual since 1992.

The 645-page draft manual contains dozens of fitness regimens for a 12-month period, designed to take soldiers through the deployment life cycle. The workouts are aimed at conditioning soldiers for the missions and tasks they perform every day, rather than getting them in shape for the semiannual Army Physical Fitness Test.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commanding general of Army Accessions Command, which oversees the Basic Combat Training Directorate and U.S. Army Physical Fitness School, said the Army was “moving towards warrior tasks and battle drills, expeditionary-Army-centric PT.”

Full battle rattle, rather than shorts and a T-shirt, is the required PT gear for a number of the workout routines.

Some sets require soldiers to exercise in their Army Combat Uniforms, wearing body armor and helmets with rifles slung across their backs. The exercises are designed to build the strength and flexibility soldiers need for the jobs they do — perhaps to dash 50 yards in full battle gear and jump a low wall, or to endure the twisting and balance of manning a gun turret.

The PT test — which has remained unchanged since it first appeared in 1980 — will stay the same for now, leaders say, because the Army wants soldiers to focus on the new PT regimen and its benefits for helping them in their jobs.

Push-ups and sit-ups will continue to be part of PT, but sprinting and walking are recommended over distance running, which was found to have been “overemphasized” in the current manual, according to briefing notes that accompany the draft.

hundreds of exercises designed to build the strength, motor patterns and endurance soldiers need in the field are included in the new manual, organized into weekly and monthly workouts linked to the Army’s warrior tasks and battle drills.

Recognizing that not all soldiers and units have regular access to a full gym, the new manual also provides a lengthy section on strength training with dumbbells, which are easy to store and transport.

In another move to more closely match physical fitness training to field requirements, there is a chapter devoted to water survival training — the first time the subject has been included in the PT manual. another chapter lays out testing procedures for combat water survival.
Getting in deployment shape

Many of the individual exercises are not necessarily new to the Army but will be to many soldiers. They were chosen specifically for their value in training soldiers to be strong, fast and agile and are grouped into sets of drills designed to progressively condition, toughen and sustain soldiers in a pattern that mirrors the Army Forces Generation Model, a full life cycle that includes readiness training, deployment, redeployment, reset and back to readiness.

Using that model, the manual offers a year’s worth of sample PT schedules that take a unit through that progression, including a couple of sample schedules that can be used during deployment.

Commanders can select as they see fit from a menu of drills and activities that meet their mission-essential task lists for their type of unit. Each day’s workout is designed to take about 60 minutes.

“It’s not a routine, it’s a system,” said Army Physical Fitness School director Frank Palkoska, who co-wrote and developed the manual and curriculum with training development specialist and deputy director Steve VanCamp.

Palkoska and VanCamp said they kept the idea of a “tactical athlete” in mind as they rewrote the book over the past five years, hoping that leaders will use the information to condition soldiers for peak performance the same way professional athletes train.

“The drills are crafted for balance and should be done as prescribed. The more you deviate, the more you run the risk of not getting the results you want,” VanCamp said. “Don’t just take all the ones you like and do them. Do all the exercises in the drill and get really good at them, and you’ll see a total change in your body.”

The draft PT manual is an expanded version of a physical readiness training program that was introduced at basic training posts four years ago, and it’s the first time an Army PT manual has been validated with proven results.

According to Palkoska, 85 percent of men and 75 percent of women in basic training who were conditioned using the new combat PT regimen scored higher than 60 percent on the APFT’s three events — push-ups, sit-ups and running.

Basic trainees are required to score 50-50-50 to pass, but, according to Col. Kevin Shwedo, deputy commander of Fort Jackson, more than half are passing with those higher scores.

Freakley said that beyond test scores, the most important benefit of the overhauled PT is that “clearly, a large part of an Army being able to fight is our physical condition.”

Freakley praised the manual’s focus on preparing soldiers for missions of all intensity levels, not the least of which are the long-term missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“If you look at us before the start of this war, we did not wear 70 pounds of equipment,” he said, predicting that leaders across the Army would embrace the new regimen once they got a chance to work with it, understanding that it conditions soldiers for hard work.

“What compels the leader to want to do this is that this manual is warrior task- and battle drill-centric. It’s about mobility, it’s about strength and it’s about endurance, and it’s putting those all together in and out of your kit.”
‘Toughened and sustained’

Staff Sgt. Michael Norton, 27, was recently assigned to work at the physical fitness school and has been familiarizing himself with the new manual.

The section on gym workouts, he said, “is exactly the kind of stuff soldiers buy Men’s Health magazine for.”

But he also gave high praise to the manual’s focus on what regular Joes need to be strong enough for their missions.

He said infantrymen need to be able to move in full battle rattle as though they were not weighed down by all that they carry.

His unit’s forward operating base in Afghanistan, he said, “was at 3,800 feet, and it was like 80 degrees in the morning and snowing in the afternoon.”

He and his squadmates carried up to 85 pounds on their bodies.

“I’ve been pretty winded climbing up some of those inclines. Our perimeter security was always up,” he said.

This new PT, he said, “has more emphasis on the speed and resistance you need to be strong for operations in this environment for a year.”

Another fan of the new manual is Lt. Col. Dave Snodgrass, commander of 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, a basic training unit at Fort Jackson that’s been doing the overhauled basic training PT since 2004.

“We’re going to export this to the rest of the Army. I’m a believer — it works,” said Snodgrass, who has seen marked changes in his trainees.

“I’m a big runner, but the reality is, you’re never going to run four miles in combat,” he said. “But I still believe in having soldiers run four miles as a way of pushing them to push themselves.”

And with the new PT manual, that’s not a bad thing, Palkoska and VanCamp said. It’s just not the only thing soldiers should be doing.

The merits of the new process for creating soldiers who are well-rounded athletes, Freakley said, will benefit every leader.

“My view is, as a senior leader, I don’t want a marathoner who can’t wear his or her combat load. But I also don’t want a Mr. or Mrs. America weightlifter who doesn’t have the endurance to walk up some of the hills we did in Afghanistan,” Freakley said of his tenure as commander of 10th Mountain Division.

“So I want that toughened and sustained soldier who is balanced. You’ve got some weightlifters out there who can’t touch their toes because they’re so muscled up.”

The draft manual is still in the review stage and, once approved, will go into production and distribution. Palkoska estimated it could be another six months before it’s out into the operational Army.

“Within three to five years,” he said, “the Army will be saying, ‘This is the way we’ve always done it.’”

Five-O 06-16-2008 00:44

IMHO long over due. While deployed in the sand box I don't remember missions in PT shorts and a T Shirt. Most good leaders , in addition to the standard PT test events, have soldiers doing more dynamic task oriented exercises anyway. It's good to see it will be formalized. Thanks for posting NDD.

Jack Moroney (RIP) 06-16-2008 04:54


Originally Posted by NousDefionsDoc (Post 213256)
“Within three to five years,” he said, “the Army will be saying, ‘This is the way we’ve always done it.’”

Un-huh. Within three to five years the Army will be saying, damn let's reinvent the wheel and get a new PT program:rolleyes: I do not care how much mother army changes the PT program, it is still going to come down to individual commitment and command support to allow those that need to do real PT, do real PT so that they can excell at their jobs rather than be judged as fit to pass a PT test. As long as the measure of physical fitness is judged by the APFT score and a tape test nothing will really change. How many of you have been in units where their PT programs were tailored to meet mission requirements-most of us have. Now how many of those programs were actually used as the validation of your physical fitness when it came to the little check on your annual efficiency reports. This looks good on paper now let's see if it can be executed.

Razor 06-16-2008 07:44

I'll be curious to see if this "new" program is just a dusted-off version of the program proposed in the late 90s, but turned down because it was "too hard" to implement.

I understand the anti-distance running argument, but don't fully agree with eliminating it from the PT program. Palkoska (a former USMA Dept. of Physical Ed. instructor) has always been a "gym rat" kind of guy and detests running, so I'm not surprised to see LSD runs dropped. Personally, I always found LSD runs improved my overall endurance and cardio capacity, which came in handy during long, multi-day cross-country movements. Of course, LSD running was cycled with swimming, rucking, sprinting, fartleks, stairs, intervals, hills and a host of other complimentary exercises.

The Reaper 06-16-2008 07:58

This is going to injure a lot of people, especially small statured ones and females.

Not saying it isn't worth trying, but I suspect that it will result in so many injuries that they will call it off in a few years, and the VA payments will go on forever.

Should be mandatory for combat arms though.


Blakeslee 06-16-2008 19:23

I believe that if the new PT program is going to focus more on strength, the AFPT should be adjusted as well. Granted, each unit will adjust fire as needed. Personally, I welcome the change.

I'm hoping that the implimentation will be done smartly; ensuring less injuries. I'm a firm believer that almost anyone can be trained up to a certain level of fitness if they are willing and dedicated.

crash 06-17-2008 21:36


Originally Posted by The Reaper (Post 213278)
This is going to injure a lot of people, especially small statured ones and females.

Not saying it isn't worth trying, but I suspect that it will result in so many injuries that they will call it off in a few years, and the VA payments will go on forever.

Should be mandatory for combat arms though.


I feel differently; I feel this may lead to less combat/deployment related injuries. Of which could be more serious, fatal. At least in garrison if you get hurt you can stop; kinda hard to call a time out with bullets flying. While if not implemented properly with a gradual build up it could also increase garrison injuries. But in theory I think the cost is worth the gain.

From what I've read it seems like it will have different levels so the command can adjust fire. I think this is more aimed at the REMFs (me) who don't usually train in full gear because our day to day job doesn't require it. I think not wearing gear forever then getting tossed into a deployment will cause more injuries than a build up and sustainment, which I think is what this is trying for. At least this would give non combat arms guys the time under full gear they might not usually get. (or units like mine that don't even have full combat kit)

I've always though you should train as you fight, that means in uniform, and gear. PTs have their place though, can't to everything in gear; and that lsd runs shouldn't be tossed aside. I do feel they are over emphasized in some units; but in the end thats what it all comes down to the unit. They decide what to do for pt and it will be how they implement it as to whether it works, or is a utter failure.

ok rant over off to bed.

Swamp 06-20-2008 12:21

“If you look at us before the start of this war, we did not wear 70 pounds of equipment,” Our rucks alone are 70 lbs as I'm sure most QP's on this board are, or well over.....then add in mags, frags, body armor weapons etc..... cardio should not be eliminated....having said that I think leg/upper body/arm strength should be the focus. There will be injuries if it is not conducted in a proper fashion. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out. My .02

Intel_Airman 06-24-2008 06:00

Sounds good, but like someone said, it comes down to personal commitment. Complex systems are not the answer when you are dealing half a million Soldiers.* PT needs to focus on weightlifting for strength/endurance 3 times per week and 10 minutes of HIIT training right afterwards.* Add some LSD's, swimming, the usual calisthenics and you have a winning "system".* More important than the fitness system implemented is getting Soldiers to a battle ready weight through proper nutrition.* Once again, a personal commitment.* What's killing guys coming into theater is the extra 30lbs around their waist from eating at BK, KFC, and any other fast food restaurant you find on post.* America's carb heavy diet is not meant for warriors.

JJ_BPK 06-24-2008 07:46

Does anyone have a copy of the draft they would like to share?? in PDF or DOC format??

Is the daft to be a revision of FM 21-20 like they did with the 1998 update or a new FM #?

In 98' they only changed a 1/2 doz pages. This sounds much more substantial..


Pete S 06-24-2008 15:44

Very similar to the Combat Fitness Test being implimented by the Marine Corps.

DrVudoo 06-29-2008 20:09

I think 1-40 cav already started something like this.

Cav Fit Test

40 yard dash 5 seconds minimum
Flat Bench 300lbs
10 mile run 70 minutes minimum

rest for 10-20 minutes

Obstacle course full IBA, ACH and weapon slung.
Rope Climb
40 yard dash sprint
Monkey bars
SKEDCO pull with 200lbs for 40 yards.
Jump over a 8 foot wall
Comanders crawl 40 yards
Combat Pull a Dummy weighting 200 lbs.
Then sprint 2 laps 4 40s.


I've only done it once and it's a smoker.

Razor 06-30-2008 09:33

I'd really be interested in seeing that Cav test administered, especially the 300lb bench press, the 10 mile run and the last two 400m "sprints".

The Reaper 06-30-2008 10:10

I agree.

I know of few non-pro athletes who can bench over 300, and fewer still who can also run 10 miles in 70 minutes.

Was that a cav unit, or a pro football team?


MVS2 06-30-2008 11:48

It's probably not too popular with a lot of soldiers - YOGA, man! While weightlifting I sustained far less injuries, muscle pulls, and increased my cardio stamina and strength by doing 15-45 minutes of yoga excercises a few times a week. It keeps you better balanced and more flexible than any other stretchig routines I'd ever done.

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