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The U.S. Army Is Finally Close to Replacing Its 1980 Fitness Test

The new requirements are meant to better prepare soldiers for modern warfare.

An Army Combat Fitness Test dead lift event at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in 2018.

An Army Combat Fitness Test dead lift event at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in 2018.

Source: U.S. Army/Alamy

Here comes a leaner, meaner fighting machine: The U.S. Army is adopting a new fitness test for the first time in 40 years, part of a larger health overhaul aimed at making soldiers stronger, less prone to injury, and better prepared for 21st century combat. The change, in progress for years but delayed by Covid-19 and concerns about the test’s design, is likely to become official this spring.

The old test—two minutes of situps, two minutes of pushups, and a 2-mile run—has been standard for soldiers since 1980. It’s a good assessment of muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness, says Colonel Kevin Bigelman, the holistic health and fitness director at the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training at Fort Eustis in Virginia. But “there are other key physical assets that soldiers need to have for success in combat,” he says: Strength, coordination, agility, and balance are all critical.