Army Development and Selection Centre
The physical trials that a potential British Army recruit is expected to undertake during the Army Development and Selection Centre INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (ADSC) involve a combination of cardiovascular, resistance and flexibility tests. As a result of the physically demanding nature of soldiering, physical fitness is an important feature of military training. High aerobic fitness, muscle strength and endurance and a low percentage of body fat are all desirable characteristics. These traits have all been related to performance ability during everyday tasks, such as marching long distances with a considerable load, climbing and repetitive lifting. The high levels of general fitness achieved by the Army enables them to carry out very strenuous and mentally complex tasks in their training while still being able to make effective decisions while under stress – this prepares them for combat situations when making the correct decisions under immense pressure.
Their fitness creates a standard of physical readiness. This means that, while you might never have to run for exactly 1. 5 miles within 10 minutes, doing so will mentally and physically prepare you for rising to similar, less predictable challenges in the field – when your life might depend on it. 1 The British Army Fitness Test INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (BAFT) is comprised of: a press-up test, a sit-up test, a sit-and-reach test, a pull-up INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (heave) test, a grip strength test, a one-and-a-half mile run test and a multi stage fitness test INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (beep test). In addition to this a candidate must fall within specific body fat standards. The following targets and pass rates are based on the scenario that the participant is male. During the sit-up test one must perform full sit ups, with a spotter holding down the feet of the performer. The pass rate is fifty-four sit-ups in two minutes.
Having a strong core and mid-section and carrying strength in the abdominal muscles and lower back muscles is integral for lifting heavy equipment. This is especially so for Royal Engineers who require exceptional all-round strength and stamina. The press-up test is supposed to be a tough muscle endurance test that will stress the chest, back, shoulders and arms because every solider needs a good level of upper body strength. It requires the exerciser’s chest to come down to a point where it touches the fist of a spotter.
The pass rate is forty-four press-ups in two minutes. One of the more common flexibility exercises is carried out in the sit and reach test. It measures the flexibility of the lower back and the hamstring muscles which are essential to freedom of movement. The main reason for this test is that lower back flexibility is vital for anyone who has to carry loads over many miles as soldiers do. Sitting on the floor with legs straight out, the performer leans forward and stretches their arms towards their feet, reaching with their finger tips as far as possible.
The distance that their fingers touch is measured. Their resultant score should be no less than sixteen centimetres. The purpose of the grip-strength test is to measure the maximum strength of the hand and forearm muscles and grip strength is important for throwing or lifting heavy objects. The subject holds a dynamometer in their hand and squeezes it with maximum effort. The required reading to pass is forty-eight kilograms. It is widely recognised that, as a general rule, people with strong hands tend to be strong elsewhere.
However, “the validity of this test as a measure of general strength has been questioned, as the strength of the forearm muscles does not necessarily represent the strength of other muscle groups. “2 With reference to the body fat assessment, the British Army uses a person’s Body Mass Index INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (BMI) to determine what their body fat percentage is and if they are considered to be of a sound weight for their size. The formula most frequently used to assess one’s BMI is to divide the subject’s weight INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (in kilograms) by their height INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (in metres2). A BMI of between 18. 5 and 25 indicates a healthy weight.
Those found to be over their recommended BMI and subsequently their body-fat limits, are entered into a mandatory weight loss program which could include additional physical training and seeing a nutritionist. The Royal Air Force is an exception in this area. Although it takes a subject’s BMI into account on initial entry, throughout their career a ‘body composition’ measurement is preferred and is an integrated component of the Royal Air Force physical fitness test. The multi-stage fitness test INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (beep test) is intended to assess endurance and stamina and can be used to estimate a person’s maximum oxygen intake.
It involves the participant running between two points with their speed increasing gradually in time with a ‘beep’ sound. The British Army expect the test to be completed with a standard of 10. 2 achieved. The one-and-a-half mile run test in the British Army recruitment process is aimed to test the aerobic endurance and speed of new recruits. The run must be completed in no more than ten minutes and thirty seconds. Lung function tests are of little value for predicting fitness and exercise performance and so the peak flow test is not acknowledged with great reverence in the public services.
Nevertheless, good lung function is important for optimum health-related fitness. The peak flow test requires the participant to take a deep breath and breathe out as hard and as fast as possible into the peak flow meter. The value recorded is peak expiratory flow, in litres per minute. An average reading for young males is said to be between six-hundred and eight-hundred millilitres thus my reading of six-hundred-and-thirty falls within the average. Alarmingly though the average of my fellow students’ performance was five-hundred and fifty.
Improvements on this may be made on the subsequent test by increasing the intake of breath and the speed and force that we exhale. A recent physical fitness program involving all of the areas of the BAFT was put into place for both myself and my fellow students to participate in. The test, that will be taken every six weeks, was developed to assess my current abilities in each of the major areas of fitness and to chart my progress. In order to measure my progress I have kept a record of my performance in each component of the fitness test.
Although it is nigh on impossible to replicate the exact conditions of the previous test, i. e. fluxuating heart rates, rest periods, food digestion and prior physical activity, each subsequent test will be conducted in the same fashion and under similar circumstances to the last. When comparing my results with the army fitness test requirements outlined above, I am encouraged to see that I am close to the standards expected in most of the tests carried out. However, I have to recognise that the initial BAFT tests will not be the only fitness tests that I shall have to excel in to progress in the Army.
Additional physical assessments include many periods of drill practice and an Infantry Combat Fitness Test involving a three mile march carrying fifty-six pounds of kit INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (including weapon,) and must be completed in a maximum time of one hour. Another aspiration of mine is to take on the ‘all arms commando course’ which is a multitude of physical tests over a thirty four week course. Entrance onto this course, in accordance with the Potential Royal Marines fitness test, requires one to perform eighty press-ups in two minutes, eighty sit-ups in two minutes and twenty pull-ups in two minutes.
I believe that my main strength will show itself throughout the following tests as being cardio-vascular orientated. “Cardio-vascular fitness is the ability of the heart, lungs and circulatory system to transport and utilise oxygen efficiently. “3 The ‘bleep’ test, press-up and sit-up tests were incorporated into a circuit. This involved some easy stretching, done prior to the training session, to familiarise the muscles with the impending exercise. Upon observing my results I must concede that I underperformed most notably in the push and pull exercises involving upper-body strength.
Therefore I must make increasing my upper-body muscle strength and endurance a priority. “Endurance training lays the foundation for all other forms of training, for without endurance total fitness can never be achieved. “4 Not only am I expected to be able to perform ten repetitive pull ups as part of the ADSC tests INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (which would require a one thousand percent improvement) but, according to my results, I need an improvement of four hundred percent to complete the average number that my fellow students managed. Needless to say I failed to complete one.
To attain more muscle endurance the ‘law of repetitions’ indicates that I should look to perform a high number of repetitions at a brisk speed against a light resistance. Alternatively to increase muscle strength I should perform fewer repetitions at a slower pace using maximum resistance. The principle of adding weight is known as progressive resistance and is the simplest and most effective way to build strength and endurance at the same time. Muscular strength can be defined as “the maximum force that can be exerted by a muscle on one contraction”.
Muscular endurance is measured in terms of “repeated contractions of a muscle working against moderate resistance”. 5 The isolated exercises of the upper body push and pull exercises focus on a specific muscle group and press ups and pull ups that require us to lift our own body weight against gravity can be equally effective as the resistance machines used for the test. Therefore I aim to improve my upper body strength and endurance by using these alternative methods of exercise. Instead of performing bench presses in the gym I will replace the exercise with press ups INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (which can be done almost anywhere).
Instead of performing heavy lateral pull down exercises I will replace them with pull ups which are an incredibly effective way of increasing upper body strength, INSERT INTO `cofwp_posts` VALUES (I intend to purchase a pull-up bar to be used at home). I do not have to be able to lift heavy weights in order to pass the ADSC fitness test. Another substitution that can be made is instead of running I would swim or row which, apart from maintaining my cardio-vascular fitness, will work upper body muscle groups, amongst others, that running alone does not focus on.
The components of fitness do not exist in isolation, as the development of one will influence the development of another. “6 Regardless of my shortfall in the strength and endurance area I was rather pleased with my overall performance and only just fell short of the Army entry requirements in the press-ups test by ten, the beep test by 0. 6 and the grip test by 4kg. My time of 10:07 for the 1. 5 mile run would make the grade for the Army fitness test and also beats the average of my fellow students’ time of 11:1 by almost a minute.
My BMI of 21. 3 falls within the required score and my body fat percentage of 14. % is well below the class average of 18. 3%. Also my sit and reach score of 46cm far surpasses both the Army’s requirements and the average class score of 33cm. The test, while it cannot provide me with an exact measure of my physical status, has given me a good indication of my present level of fitness. It shows the level that I am at now and will continue to show me how I progress over the coming months. Most importantly it will help me to identify my strengths and to work on my areas of weakness in order that I will be thoroughly prepared to commence the Army fitness test.