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Coast Guard preps for PT-test pilot

Servicewide fitness test could begin in May

Jun. 28, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
The Coast Guard is looking for 1,000 volunteers to test exercises, including dead-hang pullups, for a possible PT test.
The Coast Guard is looking for 1,000 volunteers to test exercises, including dead-hang pullups, for a possible PT test. (PA1 Anastasia Devlin / Coast Guard)
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THE EXERCISES
In preparation for a potential servicewide fitness test, the Coast Guard is studying service member performance in six exercises:
Dead-hang pullup. Person must perform pullup with palms facing forward in cadence, once every five seconds — no more, no less. There’s no time limit: Subjects will continue to do pullups until they stop.
Standing long jump: Person will jump from a standing position, with both feet together in a line, as far forward as he can. There is no distance requirement.
Inverted row: Person will lie on his back, then proceed to starting position by holding onto a suspension strap 12 inches off the deck, his body rigid from head to toe, with only his heels touching the ground. Perform a row-up by lifting your body, then return to the starting position. Person must complete one repetition every five seconds — no more, no less. If the repetition is not complete, the event will be stopped.
T-Drill test: In this multidirectional, timed drill, four cones are placed in a T shape. Person will start at the base cone, shuttle up 10 yards to touch the second cone at the top of the T, shuttle laterally five yards to touch the third cone, shuttle laterally 10 yards the opposite way, past the second cone, to touch fourth cone, return to second cone and shuttle backward to the starting cone.
Side bridge: Person will lay on his side, his forearm and legs touching the ground in a “side bridge” position, with one foot in front of the other and the other arm across his chest. Coasties will be timed on how long they stay in the side bridge position.
300-yard shuttle: Person will run forward and back over a 25-yard shuttle-run course a total of six times.
Source: Tim Merrell, Coast Guard health promotion program manager.

The Coast Guard is looking for volunteer units to test six exercises in contention for part of a servicewide fitness test.

If the trials go well, Coast Guardsmen could be required to start taking the test as early as May, according to a Coast Guard message issued June 13.

Up to 1,000 active-duty and reserve Coast Guardsmen are being asked to take part in a six-month pilot looking at six exercises: pullups, a 300-yard shuttle run, a standing long jump, a T-drill, an inverted row and a side bridge.

Men and women, and all ages, will be tested equally during the pilot, said Tim Merrell, a member of the Coast Guard’s Fitness Advisory Committee, which is responsible for making the final recommendations for a fitness test to Commandant Adm. Bob Papp.

Specific standards, such as number of repetitions and time limits, have not been determined for each exercise. Some exercises will be timed during the pilot, however, as part of the study, Merrell said.

Applications to participate in the the pilot are due June 30.

To learn more about applying and the requirements visit www.uscg.mil/worklife/physical_fitness_program.asp and refer to ALCOAST message 259/13.

The study will begin on or about Aug. 15 and end Feb. 15. Assessment tests will be given in August, November and February.

Units participating in the study can opt to perform their own conditioning fitness program, but Merrell recommends they use a three-month program created by the committee.

The conditioning program, which will include a website with demonstration videos of the exercises, is not yet available. But it will be ready for units to view by the time the study kicks off.

It’s unclear whether the Coast Guard would also adopt a mandatory conditioning program, along with a servicewide test.

Officials will be looking to see if “performance on the test can improve with physical training,” according to a set of frequently asked questions answered by the service.

So far the response from the field has been enthusiastic, Merrell said. Five days after the message posted, 170 units with a total of more than 4,000 people already had applied to participate.

“We want to make sure all units are fairly represented,” Merrell said. “The primary purpose of this pilot is to encourage and promote a healthy, active lifestyle while deriving mission readiness standards.”

Leaders have said the service needs a baseline level of fitness for all Coasties to adhere to. The Coast Guard is the only military service that does not have a mandatory fitness test, although some jobs within the service, such as rescue swimmer, do. The Coast Guard does have a required weigh-in every six months. Coasties who do not meet weight standards face possible separation from the service. It’s unclear what the consequences of failing the fitness test could be.

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