Military Life Resources Fitness

The Army changed its infamous body composition ‘tape test’

The U.S. Army's Body Composition Program is a controversial one within the force. Commonly called taping, this process has changed.
Miguel Ortiz Avatar
neck tape test
U.S. Army photo.

The U.S. Army’s Body Composition Program is controversial within the force. Soldiers are allowed a minimum and maximum weight based on their height, age and gender. If a soldier falls outside of this standard, under the previous program, they would be measured around the neck, hip and waist. These numbers would be used to determine the soldier’s body fat percentage based on their height and age. Commonly called a tape test, this process has changed.

On June 12, 2023, the Army released its updated Body Composition Program. A force-wide study conducted by the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine concluded earlier in 2023 and resulted in the new standard. Under the old ABCP, taping could lead to soldiers passing when they should fail and others failing when they should pass. The new program, which uses a single circumference measurement around the belly button, was reportedly a more effective evaluation of the 2,600 soldiers tested.

army tape test body composition program
The Bod Pod can be used to measure body fat percentage (U.S. Army)

The new ABCP applies to the active duty Army and the Reserve and National Guard. Soldiers who fail the new single-measure tape test can retest using the previous triple-measure tape test until June 12, 2024. If both tape tests are failed, the soldier will be flagged. However, a soldier can also request a body fat composition measurement using a Dual X-ray Absorptiometry, InBody 770 or Bod Pod if one of these devices is available. No change has been made to the height and weight standard, which will keep soldiers from being taped if it is passed.

army tape test
The tape test must be administered by a qualified soldier (U.S. Army)

“For years, we have been committed to reducing body fat across the force. It’s one of the driving factors in supporting the holistic health and fitness program, as well as one of the reasons to request a study on the Army Body Composition Program,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said at the ABCP rollout event. “As we got feedback from the study, we found there were ways to modernize the ABCP and better uphold the standards established in the regulations. As we implement these policies, performance on the [Army Combat Fitness Test] will increase while body fat decreases at a scale never before seen in our Army.” If necessary, modifications to the new program will be made as it is implemented across the Army.