Descriptive Comparisons of United States Military Physical Fitness Programs

Although technology has changed the nature of conflict over the years, physical fitness remains an important component of the effectiveness of every military service member. Many of the changes (night vision goggles, anti-chemical gear, etc.) allow fighting to continue around the clock, further establishing the need for fitness and endurance. Furthermore, with force reductions and continually chancing world conditions, all personnel from the U.S. military services must be ready and fit at all times. A Department of Defense directive (1308.1) stated that individual service members must possess the stamina and strength to perform successfully any potential mission. To do this, the directive mandated each US military service develop a quality fitness program that improves readiness and increases combat effectiveness of their personnel. This paper will briefly describe the physical fitness and fitness evaluation programs of each United States military service.

Army
The directive that governs the Army Physical Fitness program is Field Manual 21-20, Physical Fitness Training (1998). The manual is very complete covering topics like, leadership responsibility, components of fitness, proper exercise techniques, nutrition, environmental considerations, etc. The Army program mandates vigorous, regular (3-5 times a week) physical training and directs unit commanders to lead the training. The Army also dedicates time and effort developing and training fitness experts. The Army offers a four-week training program covering all aspects of physical fitness training and how a soldier’s body functions. After completing the training program, the selected individuals are called Master Fitness Trainers and they become responsible for training others in the area of fitness while helping ensure units conduct sound, safe physical fitness training.

The Army physical fitness test is used to get an accurate evaluation of a soldier’s fitness level and is accomplished twice each year by all Army personnel. The evaluation involves a weigh-in, push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run. The standards below are the minimum requirements for a male between the ages of 22-26.

Body Composition* Push-ups
(2 Minutes)
Sit-ups
(2 minutes)
2 Mile Run
22 40 60 16:36 mins

* Each military service conducts annual weigh-ins using standard height vs weight tables. If members are over their maximum allowable weight they are then measured for percent body fat. The method of measurement for all four military services is the circumferential tape measure method.

Navy
The Navy program is governed by Navy Instruction 6110.1E (1998). Like the Army guide to fitness, the instruction clearly states the importance of every Navy member maintaining personal fitness by participation in regular exercise. The instruction mandates that commanders aggressively support the goal of attaining and maintaining fitness by requiring a minimum of three aerobic exercise periods per week. It further stipulates the periods must be 40 minutes to allow for proper warm-up and cool-down with at least 20 minutes of continuous aerobic activity.

The Navy fitness evaluation, which is conducted twice each year, includes a weigh-in, a sit and reach flexibility test *(individuals must – in a sitting position with legs straight, flat on the floor, touch their toes), sit-ups (curl-ups), push-ups and a 1.5 mile run (or a 500 yard swim). The standards below are for a male between the ages of 20-29:

Body Composition Sit and Reach Curl-ups
(2 minutes)
Push-ups
(2 minutes)
1.5 Mile Run
22 Pass* 40 29 13:45 mins

Marines
The Marine Physical Fitness Program is governed by Marine Corps Order 6100.3J Physical Fitness (1988) and Marine Corps Order 61001B Weight Control and Personal Appearance (1993). The Marine program is very similar to Army and Navy Programs. The orders stress the importance of physical fitness as essential to the day-to-day effectiveness and combat readiness of the Marine Corps, as well as, an indispensable aspect of leadership. The program specifically mandates every Marine will participate in physical training at least 3 hours a week (3 exercise periods).

The Marine fitness evaluation is administrated twice every year. The test includes pull-ups for males (flex arm hang for females), sit-ups and a 3 mile run (1.5 mile run for females). Every Marine under the age of 46 must participate in the testing. The standards below are the minimums for a male between the ages of 17-26:

Body Composition Pull-ups Sit-ups
(2 minutes)
3 Mile Run
18* 3 40 28 minutes

* Maximum allowable percent body fat (female 26 percent) for the establishment of an alternate weight standard if members are over their recommend weight.

Air Force
The Air Force Program is governed by two Instructions, Air Force Instruction 40-501 The Air Force Physical Fitness Program (1998) and AFI 40-502 The Weight Management Program (1994). Both Instructions focus on the annual evaluations that are required, an annual weigh in and a cycle ergometery test. The instructions stress the importance of all Air Force members being physically fit to support the increasing and changing requirements of the Air Force mission. The instruction does not, however, mandate exercise periods but leaves the method and responsibility of achieving and maintaining physical fitness up to each individual.

The annual fitness evaluation is used as an indicator of an individual’s fitness level and to motivate members to participate in a year round physical conditioning program emphasizing aerobic fitness. The current evaluation program involves each member completing a cycle ergometer test once a year. The stationary cycle test is designed to measure how efficiently the heart and lungs work as a machine to transfer oxygen to the muscles. The test uses heart rate to estimate aerobic capacity (VO2max).

The standards below represent the annual minimum requirements for an Air Force male between the ages 25-29

Body Composition Cycle Ergometer
20 34 ML/KG-min

Summary
The US military services are consistent in stressing and testing two of the five major areas (muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition, flexibility, and aerobic capacity) that define physical fitness, aerobic capacity and body composition. The Army, Navy and Marines also stress muscular strength and muscular endurance by testing these areas during their fitness evaluations twice a year (the Air Force is currently evaluating the addition of push-ups and sit-ups to its annual evaluation program). The Navy is the only service that evaluates flexibility. All the services, except the Air Force, mandate participation in regular (3 times a week) exercise programs.

The one constant is the importance of physical fitness for members of each military service. Military historian William Nash once noted the “success and general efficiency of every military establishment is, in a very large degree, dependent upon the physical fitness, endurance, and condition of the individual units of which it is composed.” Because individuals need to be alert, energetic and possess stamina, the statement by William Nash would appear just as important for today’s military service members as it was when soldiers first carried their weapons and walked into combat.

References

Department of Defense. (1981). Department of Defense Directive on Physical Fitness and Weight Control Programs. (Directive No. 1308.1). Washington DC: Author.

Nash, W. (1972). Military Science and Tactics and Physical Education. New York: AMS Press, Inc.

United States Air Force. (1998). Air Force Instruction 40-501, The Air Force Physical Fitness Program. Bolling AFB, DC: HQ AFMOA/SGOP

United States Air Force. (1994). Air Force Instruction 40-502, The Air Force Weight Management Program. Bolling AFB, DC: HQ AFMOA/SGOP

United States Army. (1998). Field Manual 21-20: Physical Fitness training. Washington DC: Headquarters US Army.

United States Marine Corps. (1988). Marine Corps Order 6100.3J. Washington DC: Headquarters United States Marine Corps.

United States Marine Corps. (1993). Marine Corps Order 6100.10B. Washington DC: Headquarters United States Marine Corps.

United States Navy. (1998). OPNAV INSTRUCTION 6110.1E. Washington DC: Naval Military Personnel Command.

Lausanne Declaration on Doping in Sport

The World Conference on Doping
in Sport, with the participation of representatives of governments,
of inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, of
the International Olympic Committee, the International Sports
Federations (IFs), the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and
of the athletes, declares:

 

  1. Education, prevention and
    athletes’ rights

    The Olympic oath shall be extended to coaches and other officials,
    and shall include the respect of integrity, ethics and fair play
    in sport. Educational and preventive campaigns will be intensified,
    focusing principally on youth, and athletes and their entourage.
    Complete transparency shall be assured in all activities to fight
    doping, except for preserving the confidentiality necessary to
    protect the fundamental rights of athletes. Partnership with
    the media shall be sought in anti-doping campaigns.

     

  2. Olympic Movement Anti-Doping
    Code

    The Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code is accepted as the basis
    for the fight against doping, which is defined as the use of
    an artifice, whether substance or method, potentially dangerous
    to the athletes’ health and/or capable of enhancing their performances,
    or the presence in the athlete’s body of substance, or the ascertainment
    from the use of a method on the list annexed to the Olympic Movement
    Anti-Doping Code.
    The Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code applies to all athletes,
    coaches, instructors, officials, and to all medical and paramedical
    staff working with athletes or treating athletes participating
    in or training for sport competitions organized within the framework
    of the Olympic Movement.

     

  3. Sanctions
    The sanctions which apply to doping violations will be imposed
    in the framework of controls both during and out of competition.
    In accordance with the wishes of the athletes, the NOCs and a
    large majority of the Ifs, the minimum required sanction for
    major doping substances or prohibited methods shall be a suspension
    of the athlete from all competition for a period of two years,
    for a first offense. However, based on specific, exceptional
    circumstances to be evaluated in the first instance by the competent
    IF bodies, there may be a provision for a possible modification
    of the two-year sanctions. Additional sanctions or measures may
    be applied. More severe sanctions shall apply to coaches and
    officials guilty of violations of the Olympic Movement Anti-Doping
    Code.
  4. International Anti-Doping
    Agency
    An independent International Anti-Doping Agency shall be established
    so as to be fully operational for the Games of the XXVII Olympiad
    in Sidney in 2000. This institution will have as its mandate,
    notably, to coordinate the various programs necessary to realize
    the objectives that shall be defined jointly by all the parties
    concerned. Among these programs, consideration should be given
    in particular to expanding out-of-competition testing, coordinating
    research, promoting preventive and educational actions and harmonizing
    scientific and technical standard and procedures for analyses
    and equipment. A working group representing the Olympic Movement,
    including athletes, as well as the governments and inter-governmental
    organizations concerned, will meet, on the initiative of the
    IOC, within three months, to define the structure, mission and
    financing of the Agency. The Olympic Movement commits to allocate
    a capital of US $25 million to the Agency.
  5. Responsibilities of the
    IOC, the IFs, the NOCs and the CAS

    The IOC, the IFs, and the NOCs will maintain their respective
    competence and responsibility to apply doping rules in accordance
    with the International Anti-Doping Agency. Consequently, decisions
    handed down in the first instance will be under the exclusive
    responsibility of the IFs, the NOCs or, during the Olympic Games,
    the IOC. With regard to last instance appeals, the IOC, the IFs
    and the NOCs recognize the authority of the Court of Arbitration
    for Sport (CAS), after their own procedures have been exhausted.
    In order to protect athletes and their rights in the area of
    disciplinary procedure, the general principles of law, such as
    the right to a hearing, the right to legal assistance, and the
    right to present evidence and call witnesses, will be confirmed
    and incorporated into all applicable procedures.

     

  6. Collaboration between the
    Olympic Movement and public authorities
    The collaboration in the fight against doping between sports
    organizations and public authorities shall be reinforced according
    to the responsibilities of each party. Together, they will also
    take action in the areas of education, scientific research, social
    and health measures to protect athletes, and coordination of
    legislation relative to doping. 

Done in Lausanne (Switzerland),
4 February 1999

Awards of Sport

Each year, the United States Sports Academy honors leaders in
sport through its Awards of Sport program. Recipients come from
all arenas and positions in sport, but share the common characteristic
that they are leaders in their area and have made outstanding
contributions to national or international sport through education,
research, or service.

There are twelve awards in the Medallion Series, each honoring
a different aspect of sport.

They are:

The Eagle Award

is the Academy’s highest award. The eagle
was chosen as the focal point of the logo and seal because it
is emblematic of the institution’s quest for excellence in its
unique academic endeavor. The soaring eagle exemplifies man’s
striving for new heights, so symbolic of the aim of education
and athletic competition. Past winners include Nelson Mandela,
President of South Africa, and H.S.H. Prince Albert of Monaco.

The Ronald Reagan Media Award.

Named for the 40th president,
Reagan, the “Great Communicator,” who began his career
broadcasting sporting events. Past winners include Howard Cosell
of ABC Sports and Dick Ebersol of NBC Sports.

The Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award.


One of the greatest track and field Olympians, as well as a professional
golfer who overcame cancer to return to the winner’s circle.
Past winners include jockey Judy Krone and Jim Abbott, baseball
player for the California Angels.

The Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award.

Stagg, “The
Grand Old Man” of the gridiron, was the most winning coach
in college football and also had great records as a track and
basketball coach. Past winners include Eddie Robinson, Head Football
Coach for Grambling University, and John Wooden, the great UCLA
Basketball Coach.

The IOC President’s Disabled Athlete Award.

His Excellency,
Juan Antonio Samaranch, the President of the IOC, authorized
this award in honor of the development of the Paralympics. Past
winners include Linda Mastandrea, Wheelchair Athlete, and Tony
Volpentest, Track and Field Paralympian.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Fitness Award.

Named for the
34th U.S. President, Supreme Allied Commander in WWII and founder
of the President’s Council for Youth and Sport which served as
a catalyst to the nation’s fitness movement. Past winners include
President George Bush and Arnold Schwartzeneggar.

The Jackie Robinson Humanitarian Award.

Robinson broke
the baseball color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers by displaying
his skills, while at the same time subjugating his pride, to
prove an awareness of our failings as well as his abilities.
He was also a great athlete at UCLA as football and track star.
Past winners include Joe Morgan of the Cincinnati Reds and the
Houston Rockets’ Hakeem Olajuwon.

The Theodore Roosevelt Meritorious Achievement Award.

Hero
of the Spanish-American War by virtue of his Rough Riders, he
was named the 26th president of the United States. Roosevelt
had a successful career on the playing field and in the boxing
ring. He developed the National Parks System, and was responsible
for the establishment of the National Collegiate Athletic Association
(NCAA). Past winners include Senator Bob Dole and Senator Bill
Bradley.

The Carl Maddox Sport Management Award.

Named for the
long-time athletic director at both LSU and Mississippi State.
Maddox is also a former Chairman of the USSA Board of Trustees.
Past winners include PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem and David Stern,
Commissioner of the NBA.

The Jim Thorpe All-Around Award.

Thorpe, a Native American,
was voted the greatest athlete of the first 50 years of this
century. He was outstanding as a football and baseball player,
and as an Olympian at the 1912 Stockholm Games, won both the
pentathlon and decathlon. Past winners include Bo Jackson, baseball
and football star, and Danny Ainge, baseball and basketball star
and coach.

The Dr. Ernst Jokl Sports Medicine Award.

Jokl, an outstanding
German Olympian, is commonly known as the “Father of Sports
Medicine.” Jokl came to the U.S. in 1952 and served as the
Director of the University of Kentucky Rehabilitation Center.
Jokl was a prolific author and researcher in sports medicine
as well as psychology and sociology. Previous winners include
Jacques Rogge, M.D., IOC Chairman of Sports Medicine, and Sir
Roger Banister.

In addition, the USSA awards several Distinguished Service Awards
each year. Given annually since 1979, DSAs honor those individuals
who have made outstanding contributions to national or international
sport through education, research or service. Former recipients
include Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball and
Phillip Knight, CEO of Nike.

The finalle of the Awards of Sport are the Athlete of the Year
Awards, run in conjunction with USA Today, CNN/SI, WPMI-NBC 15
and Alabama Live, who placed the ballot on their web sites. With
over 10,000 people voting each year, Michael Jordan and Martina
Hingis have dominated the awards in the recent past, though Mark
McGwire and Tara Lipinski won last year.

We are currently accepting applications for our 1999 Awards of
Sport. To nominate, please send the nominees name and a brief
reason they should be considered for an award to academy@ussa-sport.ussa.edu
or mail it to:
United States Sports Academy
One Academy Drive
Daphne, Alabama 36526.