The Air Force recently announced changes to their physical fitness test in late May with the promise of more details to come focused around the run. The Air Force is looking for ways to provide alternative strength and cardiovascular testing options and at a recent Facebook Live chat on June 28th with Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass, they outlined the options as part of the PT “evolution” to measure fitness.
This goes back to Gen. Brown’s statement that the AF is “moving away from a one-size-fits-all model. More testing options will put flexibility in the hands of our Airmen – where it belongs. We know not all Airmen maintain their fitness the same way and may excel in different areas. Alternate components provide choices while still providing a mechanism to determine overall fitness.”
Four Alternate Events
The four alternate events that have been announced so far are a shuttle run, walking, planks, and hand-release push-ups. There has not been any official release on how these new events will be scored or what rules will govern troops’ ability to choose between different events. What is known is Airmen and Guardians will choose their events to fit the three required categories the services already use: the single aerobic event and two strength events.
In the Facebook live, Gen. Kelly talked about how the Air Force plans to implement the shuttle run by saying, “We have a way to do a shuttle run back and forth, about 20-25 meters apart over a timed distance, and the faster you can do that will correlate [to your] score, just like your 1.5-mile distance [run].”
He also mentioned the option to walk saying, “Today, you’d only walk if you get a medical [waiver], but you’ll have an option to walk as well.”
Planks and Pushup Changes Inspired by the ACFT
The Army adopted a hand release push-up option for its new Army Combat Fitness Test, and the Air Force is looking to follow their lead for the changes to the Air Force PT push-up standard.
Gen. Kelly said, “So instead of just going up and down, you’ll be in your push-up position and periodically raise a hand up and push the hand down and do that for a certain amount of time.”
Airmen and Guardians will also have the option to complete a plank instead of the standard sit-ups.
The scoring for the tests remains the same. Sixty points for the cardio component and 20 points each for the other two. This change was previously announced in May.
Air Force and Space Force Resume Physical Fitness Tests
And while it still isn’t clear if these four options will be the only options announced by the Air Force, Gen. Kelly did mention the idea of exercises like swimming, biking, or rowing may be an option in the future. But hopes may be dashed by his final thoughts, “In the end, we probably won’t offer those, and the reason we won’t offer those is it’s really hard to offer those at all locations.”
As for now, Physical Fitness Tests have begun again for the Air Force and Space Force resuming on July 1 with the minor changes mentioned in late May. But the changes announced last week will not be fully implemented until January 2022. And while the Space Force is currently following the Air Force’s guidance, they are expected to release their own guidance for Physical Training testing in the future.