Army Emphasizes Strength, Aerobics in New Physical Assessment Test

The U.S. Army has implemented a new physical fitness test aimed at better preparing recruits for the challenges of military life.

The Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) went into effect Jan. 3 and focuses on aerobics and lower- and upper-body strength, Army spokesperson Jennifer Johnson told Club Industry. It will also allow recruiters to more accurately evaluate applicants’ overall fitness levels prior to initial training.

“We anticipate that the OPAT will lower attrition, which can lead to money saved, fewer injuries, fewer lost training seats, and other positive impacts that will contribute to overall Army readiness,” Johnson said.

OPAT includes four, gender-neutral tests, according to

  • The Seated Power Throw requires participants sit with their lower back against a yoga block and their upper back against a wall. From their chest, they must throw a 4.4-pound medicine ball at a 45-degree angle. The assessment is based on the how far the ball travels before hitting the ground.
  • The Standing Long Jump requires participants leap as far as possible from a stationary position.
  • The Strength Deadlift requires participants perform a series of lifts while standing within a hex bar. The lifts start at 120 pounds and increase to 220 pounds.
  • The Interval Aerobic Run requires participants run shuttle laps between two points, 20 meters apart. A runner’s pace is determined through a series of synchronized beeps projected over a loudspeaker. The intervals between beeps gradually become shorter, meaning participants must run faster. The assessment is based on the number of shuttles completed.

OPAT standards vary based on a participant’s designated military occupational specialty (MOS). The Black category is hardest and only administered to those with heavy physical demands, while Gray is for significant demands and Gold is for moderate.

The test will be administered to 80,000 recruits and thousands of cadets this year alone, according to Recruits may request to retake the OPAT if they fail. Multiple unsuccessful attempts may result in a MOS renegotiation and subsequent category downgrade, such as Gray to Gold.

“The OPAT was created to better match prospective soldiers to careers in the Army where they are most likely to succeed and meet the Army's needs,” Johnson said.

Several groups, including PHIT America, have warned about the danger to the country due to the unfit state of 70 percent of youth to serve in the military, according to the Mission: Readiness report put together in 2015 by 600 military leaders.