Army fitness test stretches football player to the brink

March 15, 2018 — by Alex Wang

Thanks to two years of intensive football and badminton training, I am more than a little proud of my physical well-being. My finely muscled calves are the envy of all, and my rock hard abs would make even Cristiano Ronaldo jealous.

Feeling up for a challenge, when the sports editors proposed an idea to attempt the Army’s Basic Training Physical Fitness Test, I decided to sign up. To further raise the stakes, as two people have died after finishing the test, I challenged one of the Falcon’s editors-in-chief, Kyle Wang, to see who could do better.

The test was comprised of three events: 2 minutes of push-ups, 2 minutes of sit-ups and a two-mile run. It is designed to test the strength and endurance of soldiers in the Army. Each part is graded on a scale of 100, and a score of 50, which corresponds to 35 push-ups, 47 sit-ups and a 16:36 2-mile run, is the minimum requirement in each category to attend Army boot camp. On the other hand, a good score is a 90 or above in each category, which is 64 push-ups, 72 sit-ups and a 13:42 2-mile time.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Kyle and I met up at the track to attempt this test. Before we started, I thought passing all the standards would prove an easy task because I had played a grueling season of football last semester. During the football season, we lifted twice a week and ran wind sprints to improve our stamina.

But then again, since football season was three months ago, I might have been overestimating my abilities.

Kyle had been bragging about his sophomore year 6:30 2-mile split in cross-country before the test, but midway through the challenge, his endurance failed him, and it was quickly evident that his confidence was severely misplaced.

The first two events, the push-up and sit-up tests, were relatively easy. We both finished the required number of push-ups and sit-ups in time.

Then came the run. The first lap was a breeze, but on the second lap, Kyle started to show signs of fatigue, proving himself a shadow of his former “glorious” cross-country self.

It soon turned out he was all talk and no action, dropping out after the second lap because he was “trying to teach me a lesson about the importance of perseverance.”

I struggled through the next six laps, breathing hard with each step and trying not to think about the two people who died after this portion of the test.

My 2-mile time ended up being 13:44, which was enough to pass, but not enough to beat sophomore year Kyle, so I received some unwarranted snide comments about that.

Playing football helped me to stay in shape, at least during the season. Although I had not really worked out much recently, I feel that the wind sprints and exercise I did previously contributed in letting me do well on this fitness test.

The Army test was not just a test of physical ability, but also mental endurance in the face of adversity — both attributes critical to the role of a soldier. After struggling through the two miles, I reflected on how tough it is just training to be a soldier and was more grateful for their service. The basic qualifying examination was already incredibly difficult for me; I couldn’t imagine the effort training for combat would take.