NEWS | Aug. 1, 2011

PT standards enforce deployment readiness

By 1st Lt. Ashleigh Peck Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The Air Force adopted a new physical fitness test more than a year ago to better ensure Airmen are combat ready and "fit to fight."

"The PT test is an essential part of being deployment-ready," said Master Sgt. Ricky Smith, Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer in charge. "During a deployment we are asked to perform at our max. We are put through extreme situations and our body needs to be able to handle it."

With the current physical fitness test, Airmen receive a total score based on the following maximum component scores: 60 points for aerobic, 20 points for body composition, 10 points for push-ups and 10 points for sit-ups. Scoring is weighted by age and gender. To pass, members must achieve a minimum of 75 points and meet at least minimum standards in each category. If an Airman fails one category, they fail the entire test. Airmen who score 90 or better in each of the four categories are only required to test once a year.

The inclusion of minimum score requirements in each test category was a main change implemented to the test a year ago.

At Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, the PT test is monitored by one of five Fitness Assessment Cell members.

"JB CHS - AB has maintained a 95% pass-rate for the past three months," said Amanda Rawl, the lead fitness technician with the FAC. Rawl conducts JB CHS - AB PT tests and collects and reports on the data of the tests. "By far people fail the run more than any other category."

"A lot of people do not pace themselves for the run," said Rawl. "They'll start off too fast, get fatigued during the run and then they won't have any energy left to finish."
Interval training is one of Rawl's suggestions for improving run times.

"Interval training is the fastest way to increase your aerobic capacity," said Rawl.

Rawl recommends practicing two types of interval work outs to improve the PT run time: sprint and fartlek training.

"A good sprinting workout is to sprint the straight-aways on a track and jog the curves," said Rawl. "A good fartlek workout includes sprinting for 30 seconds and jogging for a minute."

Rawl also recommends having a pacer for the run on test day.

"A lot of people do better when they have pacers," said Rawl.

Senior Airman Clarissa Granger, a member of the 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron fuel cell, used a pacer for her test July 29 and improved her run time by more than a minute since her last test.

"To improve my run time I ran more, did Crossfit workouts and had a pacer," Granger said. "The pacer helped a lot."

Senior Airman Christopher Ramos, 628th Logistics Readiness Support flight line service center journeyman, was also pushed by the standards to challenge himself to improve his run time.

"This is the best run time I've had since tech school four years ago," said Ramos. "The new standards pushed me; without the new PT standards I wouldn't have done so well on my run."

They may have trained to pass a test, but that is not the only benefit these Airmen will find after working to do so.

"You will feel better and have a longer life if you live a healthy and active lifestyle," said Rawl. "It's important to be fit in the military; not only for yourself but so you can function in the environment around you. The fitness assessment exists to ensure military members are meeting levels of fitness required for their jobs."

Information on the Air Force fitness program can be found online at http://www.afpc.af.mil/affitnessprogram/index.asp.