When airmen and guardians return to regular physical fitness testing on July 1, their pushup and situp prowess will matter more than before.

The Air Force suspended physical training tests multiple times starting in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The service has used the time to craft a more realistic and flexible way to measure troops’ strength, endurance and size.

“We are moving away from a one-size-fits-all model,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown said in a release Wednesday. “More testing options will put flexibility in the hands of our airmen — where it belongs.

Previously, the Air Force awarded up to 60 points for performance on a 1.5-mile run, 20 points for body composition, and 10 points for muscular fitness through one minute each of pushups and situps.

Now, the service will offer the same amount of points for the run, but make pushups and situps worth as many as 20 points apiece. The new top score an airman or a guardian can achieve across the three components will be 100 points.

Officials dropped waist measurement as a scored part of the test amid concerns that it does not paint an accurate picture of a person’s abilities and can encourage eating disorders. The Air Force will still measure body composition by a different, yet-undecided metric starting in October.

Airmen and guardians will be grouped by age in five-year increments instead of 10, too. And the Air Force is preparing to roll out a slate of alternative strength and cardiovascular moves that will become options starting in January 2022.

“Members will have a choice of which testing options they choose for their physical fitness assessment components,” the Air Force said Wednesday. “The six-month timeline will help ensure fitness assessment cells are prepared to train physical training leaders to administer tests using the new options.”

Those could include a 20-meter shuttle run, rowing, planks, burpees and other exercises.

Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, added in March that the department is also reviewing who should be responsible for conducting the tests and how they are run.

The Space Force will continue following Air Force PT requirements until it comes up with its own set of fitness policies.

“Physical fitness is an important part of our everyday lives, it’s more than just a test — it’s a way of life, our readiness and ultimately our future success,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass said Wednesday. “July 1st is a chance to refocus on building a lifestyle of fitness and health, and I know our Airmen will be ready.”

Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.

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