Is There Too Much Emphasis On PT?

At this point in your military career it’s not a question of if you know someone who’s been kicked out of the military for PT reasons, but how many. I understand the point of having a fit force. As the face of a nation’s defense, we should be strong and fast. But, at some point, shouldn’t we have smart, slightly less physically fit people as well? I’m not looking to employ someone that can’t walk from the parking lot to the desk, but I don’t know if we need everyone to be able to run a mile and a half in 10 minutes.

I’m not saying that there should be no emphasis on PT; it has a place and purpose. But, we should focus on other areas as well. Each PT failure should be treated as an individual case. If someone has failed multiple tests, we should look at the other areas in their career and life. Is the service member the head of several departments in the workplace, a generous volunteer, or a single parent?

Instead of a general PT test, they should have one for similar career fields. Careers like security forces and fire fighters should have a different test than those that have careers in finance or medical. One shouldn’t be harder or easier than the other, but configured to test the members in each field. PT has become such an issue and has such prevalence that depending on where you work, you get to leave work 3 days a week to work out for an hour. That is a slap in the face to shift workers who spend 12-hours a day behind a desk, not able to see sunlight on a daily basis.

PTAlthough service members do have a certain amount of times to fail before they get kicked out, I believe there should be other punishment instead of getting kicked out. It’s interesting to look at how the civilian workforce handles unfit employees. They would never fire someone for not being able to run a mile and a half in a certain amount of time, but they would fire someone for being repeatedly late or missing too much work. However, service members can practically suck at their jobs and remain in the service if they are physically fit.

The amount of stress you feel the day of your PT test is similar to that of people getting ready to blast off into space to concur a new planet. You feel as if your entire life and career hangs in the balance. If you slip once while doing a pushup, you’re done. No chance at a redo. But, you’d never feel that way when you go to work every day. There’s an awful stigma that follows you if you fail a PT test. Even if you retest in a few weeks and score a 100, you’ll always be known as the person who failed a PT test. You’ll have to answer for that failure for at least 3 years, which is the length of time performance reports are reviewed for awards and promotions.

Like most things, there are always grey areas that need to be figured out. However, the black and white of PT tests has got to go. There will always be a standard, but service members should be evaluated on more than how many pushups and sit-ups they can do. PT is essentially the only way to objectify people. You can’t really judge how someone performs his or her job. Sure, they get the job done, but how could you possibly score it? If everyone were scored the same way for their job, there would be many more people in the unemployment line.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Emily Ruch

Emily Ruch was born in Minnesota and raised in central California before joining the Air Force at the age of 17. While serving in the Air Force, Emily worked in the Base Command Post specializing in Emergency Management. She didn’t travel the world as expected, but spent time in west Texas, Washington D.C., plus a short deployment in Southeast Asia. Instead of traveling, Emily spent most of her time on education, cultivating friendships with coworkers, and enjoying her surroundings. She was lucky enough to meet her husband of seven years while serving in Texas. Emily left the service after six years and began working as a correspondence coordinator for the Department of Energy. Now she is a stay-at-home-mom with her 10-month-old son and three dogs.
Emily Ruch

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7 thoughts on “Is There Too Much Emphasis On PT?

  1. I served full time in the Army National Guard from 2005 to 2014. Prior to that, several more years in the Air Force. In the Guard, I never had a hard time passing PT tests. I took them twice per year as an AGR. The standards were tougher for a couple of the young age groups but most guys had no problems. To fail a PT test under current standards is pretty darn weak, if you ask me. A 12 mile ruck march within a certain time limit, with at leat 30 lbs, should be included in the test. It’s not like we are expecting everyone to be Navy Seals or other special forces but come on, let’s get a little bit serious folks!

  2. PT isn’t just about the pushups and situps; its about individual Soldier discipline. Passing the APFT should be easiest thing you do all year because it is literally four minutes of calisthenics and running two miles. Training for the APFT is also super easy because none of those events require any special equipment. So barring some sort of enduring profile, there really are no good excuses for not being able to do the bare minimum to stay in the military. But excuses are legion, the most popular I see lately is this whole ‘Im in a technical specialty field and physical fitness has no bearing on my job performance’ which is total nonsense. Barring the ways being physically fit or unfit affects your daily life, there are standards in the military that have nothing to do with a persons specialty and have everything to do with being in a disciplined force. If a person wants applause for being good at a task and not have any standards or discipline, there are many jobs in the civilian world that would probably suit them better.

  3. I concur with David / Gargamel.

    And if I might add,
    This is the Military…not PeeWee T-ball…and the mind set that generated this article in the first place is part and parcel to many of the “self entitled ills” facing this country.
    AFPT…is a joke. Lets not forget it was created to accommodate the lowest common denominator…and it seems that bar is getting lower and lower every generation.

  4. The fact that this is being asked is a sign that our military has become weak. For the finance officer or enlisted soldier, it may not be very important, For the line soldier PT IS EXTREMLY IMPORTANT. It maintains discipline, and keeps the body strong. Try moving to cover with 60 pounds of equipment on when you’re out of shape. Guess what, it’s not going to happen and now you’re DEAD! The truth is that no matter what branch you are in, and no matter what your MOS (military job), you are a rifleman first and foremost. There is always a chance of being deployed and going down range. For those reasons alone, all soldiers should be in good physical shape.

  5. PT isn’t emphasised enough in the military. You can pass a PT test and tape out and still not be in good shape. The current tests don’t do enough to ensure a Soldier is physically fit.

  6. I can’t believe what I just read. Could tell they were not infantry just reading their article. When I suffered an injury to my lungs and couldn’t make time on runs anymore I was medically discharged. I could do everything else and scored above in my MOS tests, but if I couldn’t haul butt over a danger area or carry my load that’s just the way it was and I hated it but accepted it. No whining it’s called life and reality. I quess this is what we get for the no one loses mentality.

  7. I was a 17kilo from 78 to 81 we ran 6 miles every morning. got a C.O. that was from supply. he’s the only one who fell out on the runs talk about embarrassing! fast forward to the 21st century I worked in st. Louis airport in costruction and could tell who was the new recruits and who were the lifers by their belt lines. the uniforms have grown so large at 57 years old and according to my weight requirements during my time in sevice for my height 6ft 3in 215 lbs I’m 60lbs overweight and guess what . I ordered army acu’s that fit me! whats that say about the military now? GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS! stay in shape! tell me you young troops is there FAT Taliban, isis. I haven’t seen any on tv. you folks in the rear might need to fight in front with the grunts one day.

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