New army training fitness test will incorporate kettlebells
UPDATE: I break down each event and how kettlebells are used for training purposes along with input from RKC II kettlebell trainer Ryan Jankowitz. Read the post here.
The Army will roll out its long-planned update to its physical fitness test during the next two years, with a new six-event assessment that will dramatically improve the service’s ability to predict how a soldier will perform in combat, senior officials said Monday.
By October 2020, the new test, dubbed the Army Combat Fitness Test, will replace the three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, which was used for nearly four decades, said Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, the chief of the Army’s Center for Initial Military Training at Fort Eustis in Virginia.
The events include:
• Soldiers will twice sprint up and down a 25-meter lane, drag a 90-pound sled up and down the lane, and carry two 40-pound kettlebell weights up and down the lane.
Frost said the Army intends to supply each Army battalion with 15 sets of the gear needed, including the medicine balls, the bar and weights for deadlifts, the pull-up bars, weight sleds and kettlebells. In total, the gear is expected initially to cost the Army about $30 million, he said.
Army Maj. Rick Montcalm, the deputy director of the Army’s Modern War Institute at West Point, suggested the exercises could largely be done using actual combat gear, instead of fielding new equipment to each Army battalion.
“Rather than purchasing kettlebells to simulate carrying ammunition, why not carry ammunition cans?” he wrote. “… it would be easy to fill them with a set amount of weight and use them for the test.”
Kettlebell Krusher Says:
As thrilled as I am to learn that the army will be using kettlebells for training purposes, Major Montcalm does have a valid point. If the kettlebells are solely used to simulate carrying weight, that is a missed opportunity. It would be more cost-effective to use ammunition cans that are already in supply and use sand or something else to add weight.
It’s unfortunate really, that kettlebell exercises will be not used at all for any of the events. I understand that this test is to simulate combat action. Of course, soldiers aren’t going to be swinging weights around in active combat. Still, since kettlebells are excellent for activating multiple muscles at once, they certainly could be beneficial in other ways.
The Kettlebell Around the Body Cross Swing, for example, not only would offer a great workout for shoulders but also improve dexterity and grip strength. I could definitely see how practical those two things might be in a combat situation. Strength is important for sure, but agility and speed should be right up there too. If the army is going to spend the money on kettlebells, let’s hope that they will expand their use in other programs too!
It’s encouraging to see posts like this that describe success stories on a personal level for army personnel. When I think of kettlebell training, building muscle and strength is the first thing that comes to mind. However, it is easy to forget individuals who struggle with other goals, particularly weight loss. In the aforementioned link, that person used kettlebells to lose weight quickly and score their highest physical training test ever!