FORT BLISS, Texas A team from the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School is visiting Army installations to teach a new exercise regimen that includes pull-ups, the shuttle sprint, squat bender, rower and forward lunge. The schools commandant began by visiting Fort Bliss last week to teach physical training instructors the exercises designed to improve muscle strength, endurance and mobility, while focusing on fitness for everyday life. There are no immediate plans to change the Army's physical fitness test, officials said, just how soldiers prepare for it.
Fort Bliss was the first Army installation to be introduced to the new program that was just approved for trial less than three weeks ago.
Lt. Col. William Rieger, U.S. Army Physical Fitness School commandant, and deputy commandant Frank Palkoska, both said that the new PT would be standardized, disciplined and have a more military appearance.
They also said that the program would be more designed toward the individual soldier's needs and ability and not just a mass one level of participation.
- Some of the key points in the program will be to:
- Improve physical fitness while controlling injuries
- Progressively condition and toughen soldiers
- Develop soldiers' self-confidence and discipline
"We're going to be training as we fight," said Sgt. Jeffrey J. Hernandez, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 6th ADA Brigade.
"We had a lot of injuries in the past," Hernandez said. He said that the USAPFS is set to teach this PT to basic trainees and anticipates saving money on hospital costs.
"With these exercises we will be able to better control injuries," said Staff Sgt. Emerson Hazzard, 6th Brigade operations noncommissioned officer and student of the new PT demonstration class. "We'll never be able to get rid of injuries. The Army had to come up with a plan to get the max amount out of a soldier without breaking him," Hazzard said.
Rieger said that this program is not a drastic change from what the Army has always been doing, it's just doing it better. "There's no bad exercise, only exercises that are done incorrectly or with the improper intensity, order, volume and amount of repetitions," Rieger said.
Palkoska said that when he teaches soldiers in the field, he wants to make sure they understand why they are being taught the particular way of doing the exercises and why they could endure longer if they use the USAPFS program.
In addition, both Rieger and Palkoska said that this program would improve soldier performance that is related to their jobs.
For instance, if a soldier has a job that requires him or her to move fast in a moment's notice, the shuttle sprint or start, stop and change direction run that was taught should help with that.
"An active or dynamic exercise like the forward lunge is better for stretching," Rieger said. He said the USAPFS wanted soldiers to do exercises that applied to the functional strength of what they're doing. For instance, he said the high jumper works with soldiers who are airborne.
Rieger said that part of the program was designed to train the muscles to respond anaerobically, using less oxygen, as well as aerobically, using more oxygen.
"You have to stress the body in different ways with a combination of activities to improve," Rieger said. He suggested doing one minute of push-ups with no rest to assess strength.
Fort Jackson, S.C., is the next installation on Rieger and Palkoska's list.
"We're going to every single installation in the Army," Rieger said, adding that it may take a couple of years.
Staff Sgt. Steven Saenz, an instructor at the fitness school, said that a new Army Field Manual 21-20, (Physical Fitness) is currently in the works, but will not be out for a few years.