Failure, muscle failure, good training

I failed a physical fitness test yesterday. Well, I’m pretty sure I failed. I haven’t got the results back yet. Not the standard physical fitness (PFT) test that we’re used to (push-ups, sit-ups, two-mile run) but one of these new pilot tests the Army’s looking at to either replace its current test or augment it.

It’s called the Soldier Readiness Test (SRT), and it seems to be prompted by what the Marine Corps adopted some years ago with its Combat Fitness Test to augment its PFT of pull-ups, crunches, and three-mile run.

When I left the Marine Corps in 2010, it was still gathering data to decide on pass/fail or grading criteria. The intent was to measure actual movements Marines may reasonably expect to perform as Marines, while deployed. Functional movements. Instead of replacing its semi-annual PFT, it changed its calendar for the PFT in one half of the year and the CFT for the other half.

Well, the Army’s now looking to measure more functional movements. This means also testing while wearing gear close to what one might wear while deployed – utilities, boots, patrol cap or beanie, vest, plates, gloves, eye protection. That’s less than what we’d normally wear but more than the PT uniform for the standard PFT. It’s what I wore yesterday for the SRT test.

So there I was…

Already 10 min late because I hadn’t anticipated the 30-min traffic wait going into Fort Bragg through Yadkin Road around 0830. I missed the brief explaining the initial exercises. It was freezing, around 35ºF. The instructors asked for 12 Soldiers to volunteer to go first.

I volunteered. I had a report to finish by yesterday morning.

The first phase (tire flips, shuttle sprint, and dummy drag) allowed for 2 mins max. I think I came in at 2 min 1 sec.


Thought I was a stud. Guess I was wrong. I’ve scored over 300 (out of a possible 300) on the present standard PFT. Not today (…yesterday).

And man, was I hurting. The dummy was supposed to weigh about 240 lbs. It was on top of a skedco. That thing weighed a ton. I felt like I could barely budge it.

This NCO counted me down and at “3, 2, 1…”, I’m pretty sure at “1” that I still had about a foot left between the dummy’s head and the implied end-line, marked approximately by a small neon-green flag in the grass.

Then came this sandbag stacking exercise, to simulate loading and unloading the back of a Humvee.

Next, tossing a sandbag over a 6’6″ hurdle, ten times.

Lastly, a 1.5 mile movement in under 18 min, with a simple obstacle in the middle. The obstacle consisted of four wooden beams, for each Soldier to go over, under, over, under.

I weighed my vest with plates earlier. It’s only 15 lbs. So, I’m going to start running with it on or some other weighted vest. Shouldn’t be too bad once I get the hang of it.