The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test
Look, most of us were trained with videos or guides from the 70s, so I was seriously surprised when I discovered the U.S. Army's Combat Fitness Test page.
The page is modern, informative, and actually very helpful. Plus, the graphic designer was on point. (Kudos: Army Public Affairs Digital Media Division.)
I'm not in the army but I find myself wanted to go do some deadlifts.
The Army Combat Fitness Test is comprised of the deadlift, standing power throw, hand release push-up, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck, and 2-mile run. When designing the test, they looked at the Marine Corps' Physical Fitness Test and Combat Fitness Test, the Air Force TAC-P Operators Test, and physical performance assessments from 10-15 other sports programs and military/government tests.
All soldiers must be capable to deploy and fight. From the Army Vision: "The Army Mission – our purpose – remains constant: To deploy, fight, and win our nation's wars by providing ready, prompt, and sustain land dominance by Army forces." To accomplish that mission, the Army will "build readiness for high intensity conflict" with training that "will be tough, realistic, iterative and battled-focused." The battlefields of today and tomorrow are increasingly complex, fluid, and uncertain; they demand that all Soldiers are physically fit and ready for full-spectrum operations. —U.S. Army Combat Fitness Test website
To help prepare soldiers, the Army really went above and beyond with educational materials about the test. From videos of the exercises to training techniques and safety tips to highlighting the muscles engaged, the page is an incredible resource.
If I sound surprised, it's because I am.
The military does not have a good reputation of taking care of service members' bodies. There's an underlying "suck it up" mentality that tends to prevent troops from treating injuries in a timely manner. When they do finally seek medical care, it's often too late and they're added to the end of a too-long list of patients needing treatment.
Cue the Motrin memes.
U.S. troops deploy to combat zones and respond to missions that require physical strength, flexibility, and capability, so it's important that they train hard — but it's also critical that they learn how to prevent and treat injuries efficiently.
A minor training nuisance like a strained muscle or a shin splint can become a career-ending injury when ignored; instead it should be treated like a loose part on a weapon and it prioritized as such.
The effort the Army put into their website might seem like a small thing, but it actually communicates the importance of soldiers' bodies — training them, honing them, and caring for them.
Sorry-not-sorry to call out the Marines, but their website is much more difficult to navigate and doesn't really do much to educate anyone, even though they specifically acknowledge that injury prevention is important:
The mission of the Sports Medicine Injury Prevention (SMIP) Program is to reduce attrition and lost work-days associated with musculoskeletal injuries (MSKI) in order to increase operational readiness of individual Marine, Sailors, and their units. —U.S. Marine Corps SMIP website
The Army, on the other hand:
I wish I had this kind of stuff when I was active duty.
The government knows that injuries are a detriment to the military, but the Army has currently has a lead in educating its troops about how to train. Physical health should be prioritized as part of the military culture, not just physical strength. Troops can't be strong if they're not healthy.
Check out the website here — and then get your ass to the gym!
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