This blog is courtesy of Capt. Ken Huenink, the Missouri National Guard state Fitness Coordinator.
What is physical readiness? “Run farther, faster.” For decades this was the fitness mantra of the U.S Army. Copious amounts of long distance running sprinkled with repetitive muscular endurance exercises were the keys to fitness. It is 2011, and, undoubtedly, a paradigm shift has finally occurred. It is a good day to be a Soldier.
The Physical Readiness Training (PRT) manual (TC-3-22.20) defines physical readiness as “the ability to meet the physical demands of any combat or duty position, accomplish the mission, and continue to fight and win.” How do we best train to meet the demands of any combat or duty position? We must balance the components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, agility, balance, coordination, flexibility, posture, stability, speed, and power. The days of focusing almost solely on aerobic conditioning and muscular endurance are over. We are now training Soldiers more like professional athletes.
How do we achieve this balance of physical skills? Programming must be unbiased, progressive, and cyclic. What does this really mean for 90 percent of us? Stop running and doing push-ups all the time and mix it up a little! Physical readiness means becoming at least minimally competent at things like sprinting, climbing, jumping, combatives, and lifting heavy objects. More of these skills will be formally tested if the proposed APRT is approved. It will include new events such as the shuttle run (agility, speed), long jump (power, coordination, balance), and the rower (flexibility, muscular endurance).
The great thing about this “well rounded” approach is the training is less repetitive, which makes it not only more fun, but easier on your body (reduces overuse injuries). The PRT manual is a great place to start. But like any manual, it is only a guide. It has a finite number of sample workouts. I encourage everyone, especially those in the National Guard who often do most of their workouts “off-duty” to look at other resources also. Numerous internet and video based functional fitness programs offer balanced routines, many using little to no equipment.
I get it; some people really like to run. Others really like to lift weights. That is great! But human beings tend to repeat the activities we excel at and enjoy. Just remember your job requirements and responsibilities as a Soldier require you to be a bit of a generalist rather than a specialist when it comes to physical readiness. So work on your weaknesses. Besides, variety is the spice of life.
For more information on fitness programs and other physical resiliency topics, visit www.moguard/physical-resiliency.