Private Benjamin or GI Jane?

26 Sep

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.

5 thoughts on “Private Benjamin or GI Jane?

  1. Brilliant idea! I love the concept of the article too. GI Jane is one of my favourite movies for a bit of girl power motivation!

  2. You do get a badge, and a promotion to General!
    Or you can try competing in a younger age group. Girls can do the same, and/or use the guys figures!

  3. I just did the APFT – score: 194! I’m so pleased! I passed on push-ups and sit-ups but failed on the run (surprise, surprise!) but only by 37 secs. (I also CANNOT STAND running. I’ve decided it’s definitely time to work on this.)

    Thanks for this, Kate – somehow testing your own fitness is quite exciting, unlike the bleep test at school and cross-country at school. I was always annoyed they only tested with running – always thought there should be a trampoline-based agility test or something too!

  4. GO, Sophia! Ace result.

    I was definitely being too kind on myself on the run (what sort of idiot gets lost running around their own neighbourhood!) But I’m going to do the run again at the weekend with no excuses this time.

    You’d deffo score 300 on gymnastics!

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