Many Web sites make wild claims.

My claim on this page is that by using Crossfit London and the Stemlerfit programme, its possible to effectively prepare for army life and to develop your military fitness

I  begin with a study carried out by the US military in 2010 in its executive summary

"Since the creation of the U.S Army, physical fitness training has played an important role in combat readiness. However, throughout its history the U.S. Army?s method for conducting physical fitness training has changed and evolved. Most recently, in the late 1990s, the U.S. Army began to see evidence that its method of conducting physical training was not producing Soldiers ready for the rigors of modern ground combat.

This reality began a general move within the U.S. military towards functional fitness programs as many leaders and organizations began to rethink physical training and its relation to combat readiness. Take for example, the revision of FM 21-20 (Physical Fitness Training), the Ranger Athlete Warrior program, and the United States Marine Corps, Functional Fitness Program. The CrossFit program?s growth in the U.S. military over the last decade is equally representative of the U.S. Military?s move to functional fitness. In 2006, Glassman estimated that up to 7,000 members of the U.S. military were using the CrossFit program regularly. That number has grown exponentially since 2006 represented by the fact that there are now over 58 non-profit military CrossFit affiliates throughout the world, to include affiliates at many major U.S. Army installations like Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, Fort Polk, Fort Knox, Fort Meade, Fort Leavenworth, the Pentagon and the United States Military Academy.

1) Over the eight-week study, every athlete experienced an increase in their work capacity, measured in terms of power output, with an average increase of 20%. Therefore, we believe the CrossFit program was successful in increasing every athlete?s general level of physical fitness.

2) While those athletes that were least fit at the beginning of the study saw the largest net gains in work capacity, even the most-fit athletes in the study experienced significant gains. The results of our study indicate that above average athletes overall work capacity increased 14.38%. One of our most fit athletes, with considerable CrossFit experience, saw a gain of 28.32% in overall work capacity. From our perspective, these results considerably strengthen our assertion in the first finding by demonstrating the CrossFit program?s ability to increase the level of physical fitness of above-average athletes who in theory would have less capacity for improvement. We believe that the CrossFit program?s prescription of high intensity combined with constant variance is one of the primary reasons that the above-average athletes in the study experienced gains in work capacity. Additionally, based on our qualitative observations, individual motivation to both maintain intensity and develop new physical skills appears to be one of the major observed differences between above-average athletes and average or below average athletes.

3) Despite a generalised training program that did not specifically train the athletes for any of the assessments, the athletes? performance on the assessments improved. For example, on the one repetition maximum weight deadlift assessment, the athletes mean increase in work capacity increased 21.11%. Importantly, these results were achieved despite only performing the deadlift in a workout five times out of twenty-eight training sessions. The results from the shoulder press, back squat, push-up and sit-up assessments mirror the deadlift in that despite limited number of training sessions devoted specifically to these exercises, the athletes? performance during the assessments improved. These results lead us to the conclusion that generalied training can prepare athletes for unknown and unknowable events, a crucial capability in combat, and can produce improvement in specialised events despite non-specialised training.

4) Generally the athletes in the study experienced relatively equal increases in power output in each of the assessments. Based on how we devised the assessments, this indicates a balanced increase in performance across metabolic pathways and across the ten general physical skills. We believe the consistency of improvement across assessments validates the CrossFit program?s claim that it produces a broad and inclusive brand of fitness. From the perspective of the U.S. Army, this is significant because capacity across metabolic pathways and modalities characterises the type of versatility required of U.S. Army Soldiers." 

 

Private Benjamin or GI Jane?

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By Kate Pankhurst

So there was this programme on BBC3 called Are you fitter than a Pensioner? Long story short, the results were deeply uninspiring. But, the teens involved went through some fitness tests before and after their challenge. It got me to thinking about how improving fitness can be measured other than a better Fran time (to be generous to myself, it's incremental) What sort of straightforward fitness testing can I do on myself?

"I broke a nail!" Private Benjamin's guide to the
US Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT)

1) Push-ups: max reps in 2 mins
2) Sit-ups: max reps in 2 mins
3) Run 2 miles (3.2km) for time.

Now the rules are very strict on how the moves are performed, so read this first so you know you're not cheating. That link also shows the basic scoring system grouped by age, and their pass or fail marks. If you want your exact score, check the tables here.

A pass score is 180, with a minimum of 60 in each of the 3 categories. A perfect APFT score is 300.

So this fine morning I dug out my stopwatch, took a deep breath, harnessed my inner Private Benjamin, and set off to find out if I was good enough to be in the US Military.

On the push ups, I was off to a flying start. I did 41 in the 2 mins, giving myself a glorious 81 points in the process. Huzzah! All those rounds of Cindy have done me proud.

Next, I hooked my toes under the sofa and got on with the sit-ups. Way harder - my thighs had seized up in no time, and wanted to cry because you can only rest at the top of the sit-up, not lie flat making sweat angels. So I got 32 sit-ups in the time, earning 62 points. Another pass, but only just.

Have I mentioned how much I hate running? I'd worked out a 2 mile route around Stratford using Google Maps, and set off in a sulk. I managed to take a wrong turn back and got a bit lost - and a bit off my stride. Still, I just about made the time and passed with 60 points.

So my total score is 203 out of 300. The cool thing about this is that you don't need any equipment, and can retake the test any time and see any measureable improvement. I've decided I'll do the test again at Christmas, and see how much better I've got. Even Private Benjamin got better, right?

If your scores are high from the start, you can try competing in a younger age group. Girls can do the same, and/or use the guys figures!

If you think the APFT is for wusses - then why not give this a go:

"Suck my d**ck!" * GI Jane's guide to the
US Marine Corps Psysical Fitness Test (MPFT)

Pull-ups: Men earn 5 points for every strict pull-up to a max of 20 reps. Women don't do pull-ups, but are timed on a flexed arm hang to a max of 70 secs (I only managed 21 secs - maybe I need to shave my head)

There are also protocols for running and sit-ups. Read through the rules and scoring system here.

So next time you're having a boring weekend (or need an activity on holiday) have some fun testing yourself out the way the military do. Have a go and post your scores below.

And the next time you turn up at the gym, if it says "Private Benjamen" of "GI Jane" on the blackboard, you'll know what you're in for!

*I've only included this very rude word at Andrew's insistence. I hope the ** lessen the offense somewhat.