Kentucky Guard samples new fitness test

By 1st Lt. Michael Reinersman, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Hogan, Kentucky's adjutant general performs a standing deadlift as part of the Occupational Physical Assessment Test in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 31, 2016. Members of the Kentucky National Guard command staff sampled the new Army test to understand its potential effect on recruiting new Soldiers. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Hogan, Kentucky’s adjutant general performs a standing deadlift as part of the Occupational Physical Assessment Test in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 31, 2016. Members of the Kentucky National Guard command staff sampled the new Army test to understand its potential effect on recruiting new Soldiers. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Guard leadership and members from Joint Force Headquarters completed the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) conducted by members from the Recruiting and Retention Command at the Boone National Guard Center, Aug. 31, 2016.

The OPAT is a four-event test that consists of the standing long Jump, seated power throw, strength deadlift, and the interval aerobic run. The OPAT is a gender and age neutral test designed to measure muscular strength, cardio respiratory endurance, and lower body and upper body power of new recruits.

“I think it’s a good and fair assessment of fitness for prospective Soldiers” said State Command Sgt. Maj. David Munden. “Some adults join the military to get fit, so the OPAT will make recruiters work harder to communicate the standards for each MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) and give recruits guidance to pass the fitness test,” he said.

The Army completed a physical demands study and developed the OPAT, which will allow recruiters to screen future Soldiers for their ability to succeed in their assigned MOS prior to entering active duty for training.

“Most 18-year-olds want to be infantry, but not everyone is physically meant to be in infantry,” said Staff Sgt. Danielle Menor, Kentucky Army National Guard recruiter and Master Fitness Trainer. “The concept of the OPAT is necessary to make sure recruits are physically capable to do the jobs they want.”

Effective Oct. 1, all enlisted Soldiers must take and pass the OPAT performance standards for their occupational specialty’s Physical Demand Category (PDC). All applicants contracting for officer appointment must pass the OPAT performance standards for their branch PDC beginning Oct. 1, 2017.

Click on the link to the Physical Demand Category (PDC) for each Army occupational specialty. The numbers are expected to be modified as feedback from the force rolls in on the OPAT.

Master Fitness Trainer and Kentucky Army National Guard recruiter Staff Sgt. Adam Stopplewerth said the OPAT is intended to benefit the recruits and the Army.

“The OPAT will help us put Soldiers in jobs they are most physically qualified for and that will reduce injuries and attrition,” he said. “Hopefully, proper job placement will lead to career longevity, improve readiness and help the Guard retain quality Soldiers.”

Soldiers currently serving, who are reclassifying into a MOS with a higher PDC category will have to take the OPAT beginning Oct. 1.

“If you’re not active this will be a tough test” said Col. Bryan Howay, commander 75th Troop Command, after completing the interval aerobic run. “It will take time for Soldiers to get use to the test”.

The Four Part Test consists of:

  1. Standing Long Jump: designed to assess lower- body power. Recruits stand behind a take-off line with their feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. They will jump as far as possible with a two-foot take-off and landing. Results of the test are measured in centimeters.
  2. Seated Power Throw: designed to assess upper-body power. Recruits sit on the floor with their lower back against a yoga block and upper back against a wall. They hold a 4.4 pound (2 kg) medicine ball with both hands, bring the medicine ball to their chest and then push or throw the medicine ball upwards and outwards at an approximate 45 degree angle. The throw is scored from the wall to the nearest 10 centimeters from where the ball first contacts the ground.
  3. Strength Deadlift: designed to assess lower-body strength. Recruits stand inside a hex-bar and perform practice lifts to assure good technique. Then they begin a sequence of lifts starting with 120 pounds, and working up to 220 pounds. Recruits are scored by the largest amount of weight they can properly deadlift.
  4. Interval Aerobic Run: performed last, is designed to assess aerobic capacity. The test is similar to what is commonly referred to as the “Beep Test.” The evaluation involves running “shuttles” or laps between two designated points that are spaced 20 meters apart. The running pace is synchronized with “beeps,” produced by a loud speaker, at specific intervals. As the test progresses, the time between beeps gets shorter, requiring recruits to run faster in order to complete the shuttle. Recruits are scored by the level they reach and the number of shuttles they complete.