What Level of Fitness Training is Required for the Army?

What Level of Fitness Training is Required for the Army?

Joining the army is not for the faint-hearted. Not only do you need to have strong mental strength and a willingness to push to your limits, but your physical health also must be in tip-top shape. The fitness requirements are not only key for maintaining your performance throughout the time you serve with the army but to even be accepted into any position within the army these standards must be met and exceeded if you progress. 

The importance of existing fitness

Fitness training

The fitness training standards in the army are not simply there to stop unfit people from joining. Having a sufficient level of fitness before you join the army is important if you hope to minimise the risk of injury. Injury prevention is at the height of importance when training with the army, therefore having a combination of endurance, sufficient muscle mass and a low body fat percentage is ideal when army recruiters are reviewing body compositions. Of course, men and women have separate biological make-ups which means women have a higher body fat percentage, and men are considered to have lower resting body fat percentage.

What tests need to be completed?

First of all, it is important to know that different positions in the army will require different qualifications and minimum requirements to enter. If you are applying to be a soldier, you need to not only meet the fitness standards but also have high school qualifications such as GCSEs. On the other hand, if you are looking to become an officer you need to meet a more extensive range of fitness requirements, as well as a college degree instead of just a high school education. Whilst fitness is a core element in finding success in the army, your education and intelligence will also open up more doors if you hope to excel through the rankings.

If you are applying to be a soldier, you need to be able to pass the following tests:

Multistage fitness (bleed test)

You may have experienced the fitness test known as the bleep test whilst you were in school. This test is a simple run at a 20m distance apart in which you run back and forth in time with the beep. You essentially need to keep up with the beep which gets progressively faster, which is more complicated than it sounds. The bleep test aims to measure each candidate’s aerobic capacity. Males need to achieve a level of 10.2 and females a score of 8.1 to be considered.

Mid-thigh pull

army training

The mid-thigh pull aims to assess the soldier’s whole body strength as well as their force production capabilities. If you are new to strength training, this is where a lot of candidates can go wrong if they have based most of their training on cardiovascular fitness. Strength is so important when it comes to qualifying for the army and having huge muscles does not equate to having a sufficient strength body composition for the army. To pass the mid-thigh pull test, candidates must pull the set-up barbell (at mid-thigh height) up for 5 seconds at a weight of 50kg or more. They will take your best score from two attempts which allow candidates to show the best of their overall lower body strength.

Medicine ball throw 

Last but not least, the medicine ball throw is a test to assess your upper body strength. It consists of sitting against a wall and throwing a 4g medicine ball as far as possible. At least 2.7m distance must be achieved from the throw to meet the energy standards to become a soldier, however further distance might need to be achieved if trying to qualify for higher rankings.

Now you have an idea as to what the basic physical requirements are to qualify for the army, it’s important to understand of you can train your body to meet these requirements and avoid any struggle during the earliest stages:

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Being physically fit is more than how far and fast you can run. Getting fit enough to qualify for the army should be a 360 approach, meaning your diet, mental health and physical health should all be as healthy as possible if you hope to qualify to serve your country.

Balanced diet

army diet

A healthy diet might look different for everyone. One thing to keep in mind when qualifying for the army is your BMI (body mass index) will be looked into, so you consider reviewing yours to make sure you fit into the desirable threshold for your age and height. A balanced diet can help you achieve this. Depending on whether you need to lose mass or put on muscle mass, you should have the right amount of nutrients in each meal. Eating a high amount of protein is a great way to eat larger volumes whilst also avoiding fats. Protein keeps you fuller for much longer as well, so make sure you calculate the amount of protein you need in your diet depending on what mass you are aiming to achieve.

No smoking/ drinking 

Smoking and drinking should be stopped altogether if you wish to join the army. Most armies around the world are now tobacco-free, meaning it would be against the rules to smoke within the facility. There are many ways to stop smoking, and your overall health and fitness will be greatly improved. Drinking is also extremely unhealthy for our bodies and contributes to excessive fat stores, as well as overall fatigue.

Bottom line 

Becoming a soldier in the army is an honour that many people hope to achieve. Qualifying and passing the difficult fitness test is something that many fail, but improving your chances of passing can be easily done. Doing at least 1590 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week will improve your endurance and keep your heart healthy, and strength training will prevent the risk of injury and also increase your muscle composition. To guide you through such intense workouts, consider using a trainer, or even buying equipment such as NATO watch straps or fitness watches to time and assess your workouts.