Saturday, November 29, 2008


The Army Physical Fitness Test supposedly is "designed to test the muscular strength / endurance and cardiovascular respiratory fitness of soldiers in the United States Army" by having us do as many push-ups as we can in 2 minutes, followed 10 minutes later by as manysit-ups as we can do in 2 minutes, followed ten minutes later by a 2-mile run, in as short a time as can be managed by the Soldier.

Except, of course, if one is a physical wreck (wretch?) like me, in which case one does a 2.5-mile walk in under 00:37:30 in place of the 2-mile run.

Each event is scored according to a scale which takes into account the Soldier's age and gender.

Male Soldiers who join at age 17 must complete 42 push-ups and 53 sit-ups within the allotted time, and finish the 2-mile run in 00:15:54 to pass the test. If they want to "max" it, they need 71 push-ups and 78 sit-ups, and 00:13:00 in the run to receive a "300". By the time they're 27, they're expected to complete 77 push-ups, 82 sit-ups, and the run in 00:13:18 to max out.

More than the maximum number of repetitions in the first two events, or a faster run time than the minimum can earn the Soldier more than 300 points, but only as long as the Soldier has maxed each of the three events. Otherwise, the extra repetitions or the faster time don't really "count."

As a person gets older than 31 years old, the standards are lowered. After age 52 (my age) they must figure they're reached the nadir, because the standards no longer change.

When I went to Chaplain Basic Training, as the oldest non-prior-service Soldier there, my classmates seized upon my advanced age and accused me of only having to do five push-ups and three sit-ups to pass. I actually did well enough on the APFT I took during Basic to have at least passed at the 17-21 age.

However, I wound up with a permanent no-run profile as a result of that test.... Sigh.

Because of the permanent no-run profile, no matter how many sit-ups I do, nor how many push-ups, nor how fast I get the 2.5-mile walk done, I can't ever score over 260 (out of 300) on the test; in fact, they don't really 'score' it at all. They just check to see whether I pass each event, and whether I meet the height-weight standards.

So I had an APFT today, here in Iraq. After doing 63 push-ups (the max for my age is 56; the minimum to pass is 28), I realized it didn't matter (I'd done 76 in two minutes last week), so I just stopped, with twenty seconds to go.

I know, I'm a quitter.

Saffar Arjmandi would have called me something else.

When it came to the sit-ups, I just did the minimum that a 17-year-old would need to pass -- 53. (For my age group, the max is 66, the minimum, 28.)

I'm not convinced that sit-ups really measure my fitness for combat, when you really get right down to it...

I had 00:37:30 to do the 2.5-mile walk, and completed it in 00:31:23. I'd sort of wanted to get it done in under 30 minutes, but seeing as I'd not been to the gym -- at all -- since I've been here (these 12-hour (or more!) days are real killers, if I want to write to my blog, etc.), I figure it wasn't too shabby a performance.

I did best the others who were doing the walk by more than 2 minutes, at least.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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Mary Coady said...

Glad to hear you passed the fitness test. Pretty good for someone 52 years old with no prior service.


Anonymous said...

Tim, I'd say you are in the best shape of your life! I don't know how I'd do - but I'm going to see at the gym sometime.


Whirlwind said...

I feel bad. a fifty-two-year-old-priest does more pushups than I do...gotta get on that Army PT program and off the weights...

Luis Carlos Montalvan said...

Dear One,

You are allowed up to 20 minutes between events. Most testers and takers build tha into the test automatically for maximum recuperation, stretching and ultimate performance.

Make sure ya take it, young man!

With best regards,

CH (CPT) James Hager II said...

I also entered the US Army Chaplain Corps at age 50, and am now 52 (also a priest). I have 10 years prior active duty service and a couple years USAR service. I returned and found myself the brigade chaplain of a Regional Support Group from a couple days after my commissioning. I take my PT next test in about seven and a half hours--and plan to pass by God's grace. Last year was the first time I ever had to be "taped" due to weight. Since then, I have been taped three times, including last month during the Chaplain Captain Career Course. Bless you. Jim+

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