This part discusses the strategy of Army physical readiness training.
Types of Programs
“The quality of the unit is determined by the overall picture of physical condition and total military fitness of all its members. It is more important that all men in a unit receive the benefits of a balanced and well-directed program of physical training than that a few members achieve record performances. The physical training program, therefore, is directed toward the total conditioning of all men.”
FM 21-20, Physical Training (1946)
Army PRT achieves other valuable outcomes in addition to developing and maintaining a high level of individual and unit readiness. These outcomes include: basic military skills and survivability along with their intangible benefits. The basic military skills associated with PRT include foot marching, running, swimming, jumping, vaulting, climbing, crawling, lifting, and load carrying. Survivability is often dependent upon maneuverability and mental alertness. Intangible benefits include teamwork, aggressiveness, confidence, resourcefulness, a will to win, discipline, and adaptability. Physical resilience is also a gained attribute.
INITIAL MILITARY TRAINING
4-1. Initial military training has the following elements: BCT, advanced individual training (AIT), OSUT, and Basic Officer Leader Courses A and B (BOLC A and B).
BASIC COMBAT TRAINING
4-2. The training program in BCT provides foundational fitness and fundamental motor skill development. New Soldiers report to BCT at various levels of physical readiness and ability. During the first weeks of training, the focus is on progressive training of the whole body. To minimize the risk of injury, Soldiers must perform exercises precisely. Also, their intensity must progress gradually. The toughening phase BCT training schedules in Chapter 5, Planning Considerations, when executed to standard, provide the proper training intensity and exercise volume and gradual progression appropriate to improving physical fitness and controlling injuries. Commanders should evaluate each new Soldier who falls below the BCT standard and give special assistance to improve deficiencies. Supplemental training should not punish a new Soldier for the inability to perform well. Commanders and PRT leaders need to realize that it takes at least six to eight weeks to begin positive changes in physical fitness levels; therefore, some Soldiers may require additional time to make the improvements required to meet Army standards.
“More PRT does not equal better PRT. Training quality is more important than the number of repetitions performed.”
William R. Rieger, National Strength and Conditioning Association
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
ADVANCED INDIVIDUAL TRAINING
4-3. Advanced individual training focuses on technical and MOS-oriented (military occupational specialty) subjects; therefore, PRT should continue to prepare these Soldiers to meet the physical requirements of their first unit of assignment. It is recommended that commanders should continue conducting toughening phase activities until Soldiers meet Army standards before transitioning to sustaining phase activities. See Chapter 5 for AIT planning considerations.
ONE STATION UNIT TRAINING
4-4. Physical readiness training in OSUT brings Soldiers through the toughening phase and prepares them for the rigors of their first unit of assignment. New Soldiers follow the same progression as BCT during the red/white/blue phases of OSUT.
4-5. Commanders should continue conducting toughening phase activities until Soldiers meet Army standards. Soldiers can then transition to sustaining phase activities during the black/gold phases of OSUT. These activities are more difficult and complex and prepare Soldiers to perform the physical requirements of their duty assignments as their units prepare for full spectrum operations. See Chapter 5 for OSUT planning considerations.
WARRANT OFFICER CANDIDATE SCHOOL
4-6. Physical readiness training in warrant officer candidate school employs sustaining phase exercises, drills, and activities to prepare Soldiers for the rigors of warrant officer candidate school and their first unit of assignment.
BASIC OFFICER LEADER COURSES
4-7. The training program in BOLC A brings Soldiers up to a level of physical readiness that prepares them for the rigors of BOLC B. Cadets and officer candidates report to BOLC A at various levels of physical readiness and ability. During the first weeks of training, the focus is on progressive training of the whole body. It is recommended that Soldiers in BOLC A perform toughening phase activities during PRT sessions. Soldiers in BOLC B transition to performing sustaining phase activities during PRT sessions. To minimize the risk of injury, Soldiers perform exercises precisely and the intensity progresses gradually. Commanders should evaluate each new Soldier who falls below the BOLC A standard and give special assistance to improve deficiencies. Again, more PRT is not necessarily better. Instructors emphasize quality of the training, not quantity of exercises performed. Commanders and PRT leaders need to realize that it takes at least six to eight weeks to begin positive changes in physical fitness levels; therefore, some Soldiers may require additional time to make the improvements required to meet Army standards.
ACTIVE AND RESERVE COMPONENTS
4-8. This section covers PRT programs for the active and reserve component (RC) forces. It also provides an overview of the Army training management process and its relationship to the development of individual and unit PRT programs.
4-9. Active component PRT includes unit, individual, reconditioning, and special conditioning programs.
4-10. The goal of Army PRT is to improve each Soldier’s physical ability to survive and win in any operational environment. Physical readiness includes all aspects of physical performance and requires training well above that of simple preparation for the APFT. Commanders are responsible for the training, performance, and readiness of their Soldiers. Physical readiness training is a commander’s program; therefore, commanders should employ the Army training management process specified in FM 7-0. The Army training management process provides a systematic way to manage time and resources to meet training objectives through purposeful training activities. Commanders use this process to identify training requirements and to subsequently plan, prepare, execute, and assess all training.
Mission-Essential Task List
4-11. The Army’s training management model provides the framework for commanders to achieve proficiency in their unit’s mission-essential task list (METL). The unit METL drives training. Key to the success of this process is the inclusion of bottom-up feedback. This approach applies mission command to the training process. With this approach, senior leaders provide training focus, direction, and resources. Subordinate leaders develop objectives and training requirements specific to the unit and provide feedback on training proficiency. They also identify unit needs and train to standard IAW the unit training schedule or the event training plan. Senior leaders provide guidance based on mission and priorities, requiring subordinate leaders to conduct analysis to identify both collective and individual tasks that support the higher headquarters mission-essential tasks. This is the top-down approach to training. Input provided by subordinate leaders identifies critical training needs in order to achieve task proficiency. This is the bottom-up approach to training. This process, when combined, creates the top-down/bottom-up approach to training. This ensures effective communication of the requirements and of the planning, preparing, executing, and assessing of training. This process is essential to ensure proper conduct and execution of the unit PRT program.
4-12. Well-planned PRT maximizes physical performance in the completion of critical Soldier and leader tasks that support the unit’s mission and C- and/or D-METL. It must reflect the commander’s training objectives and goals and must reflect the principles of precision, progression, and integration. With ever changing operating tempo (OPTEMPO), units and Soldiers must continue to train to improve/sustain METL performance. Training priorities dictate how often and how rigorously PRT occurs.
Army Force Generation
4-13. Army Force Generation is the driving force behind training management. The Army provides campaign capable expeditionary forces through ARFORGEN. Army Force Generation applies to both regular Army and RC (Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve) units. Unit commanders and PRT leaders can plan PRT based on the specific requirements addressed in each of the ARFORGEN phases. Chapter 5 provides commanders and PRT leaders with example training schedules based on the three phases of ARFORGEN. Each phase has a specific focus.
4-14. The reset phase focuses on individual and collective training tasks that support their C- and/or D-METL.
4-15. The train/ready phase focuses on higher level collective tasks associated specifically with deployment.
4-16. The available phase continues focus on higher-level collective tasks. The unit achieves trained status and becomes available for immediate alert and deployment.
Top Down/Bottom Up
4-17. Units not involved in ARFORGEN should still follow the Army training management process. The unit’s mission and METL still drive training. The top-down/bottom-up approach to training mentioned previously ensures effective communication of the requirements and of the planning, preparing, executing, and assessing of training. Senior leaders continue to provide training focus, direction, and resources. Subordinate leaders continue to develop objectives and training requirements specific to the unit and provide feedback on training proficiency. They also identify unit needs and train to standard IAW the unit training schedule or event training plan. Senior leaders provide guidance based on mission and priorities, requiring subordinate leaders to conduct analysis to identify both collective and individual tasks that support the higher headquarters mission-essential tasks. Well-planned PRT maximizes physical performance in the completion of critical Soldier and leader tasks that support the unit’s mission and METL. It must reflect the commander’s training objective and goals and be based on the principles of precision, progression, and integration. With ever changing OPTEMPO, units and Soldiers must continue to train to improve or sustain METL performance. Training priorities dictate how often and how rigorously PRT occurs. Professional development schools, hospitals, military police, communication centers, and Department of the Army staff have various challenges in planning and conducting PRT. Leaders should make every effort to conduct phased unit or individual PRT five times a week. See Chapter 5 for unit PRT schedules.
4-18. Commanders that authorize the use of individual training programs for their Soldiers should follow the same training management principles outlined in the previous paragraphs. Army Force Generation is the driving force behind training management. The Army provides campaign-capable expeditionary forces through ARFORGEN. Army Force Generation also applies to RC (Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve) units; therefore, leaders and individual Soldiers need to use the PRT system outlined in this TC to help them achieve and sustain high levels of physical readiness required in the conduct of duty position or full spectrum operations. Individual PRT programs must be designed to improve the individual’s contribution to the unit’s physical readiness. Conditioning, CLs, and GDs, foot marching, and running activities employed in unit PRT can be performed individually or with a partner. Individual and small group PRT should develop and maintain a level of physical readiness equivalent to that required for success in performance of the unit mission and CMETL or D-METL. Chapter 5, Planning Considerations, provides commanders and PRT leaders with examples of collective and individual training schedules based on the three phases of ARFORGEN.
4-19. All Soldiers must understand that it is their personal responsibility to achieve and sustain a high level of physical readiness and resilience. Individual physical readiness includes all aspects of physical performance and requires training well above that of simple preparation for the APFT. Many Soldiers are assigned to duty positions that restrict participation in collective unit PRT programs. Examples include Army staff, hospitals, service-school staff and faculty, recruiting, Reserve Officer Training Corps, Reserve and National Guard units. In such units, commanders must develop leadership environments that encourage and motivate Soldiers to accept individual responsibility for their own physical readiness. Physical readiness and resilience requirements are the same for these personnel as for others.
4-20. As mentioned in Chapter 2, System, the objective of the reconditioning program is to restore physical fitness levels of Soldiers on medical profile that enable them to re-enter the toughening or sustaining phase. Commanders and health care personnel provide special aid to Soldiers assigned to reconditioning PRT for one or more of the following medical conditions: injury, illness, or surgery. Chapter 6, Special Conditioning Programs, provides more information on reconditioning.
PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM TRAINING
4-21. The U.S. Army Medical Command has responsibility for the Army Pregnancy Postpartum Physical Training (PPPT) Program. The Army PPPT Program is designed to maintain health and fitness levels of pregnant Soldiers and to assist them in returning to pre-pregnancy fitness levels after the end of their pregnancy. The goal is to integrate the Soldier into her unit PRT program with an emphasis on meeting the standards for the Army Weight Control Program (AWCP) and APFT. Pregnancy postpartum physical training program standards, policies, procedures, and responsibilities are set forth in the United States Army Public Health Command (USAPHC), Technical Guide Series 255A-E, U.S. Army Pregnancy Post Partum Physical Training Program. The USAPHC is responsible to ensure that the Technical Guide Series 255A-E manuals are updated periodically and made available in a web-based format. USAPHC is responsible for training PPPT instructor trainers and health care experts who provide training for the PPPT program as specified in the Technical Guide Series 255A-E.
4-22. Senior commanders have responsibility for PPPT program execution and will ensure the following:
- All eligible Soldiers will participate in the installation level PPPT program.
- Soldiers maintain health and fitness levels throughout their pregnancy and return to pre-pregnancy fitness levels.
- Soldiers will safely reintegrate into their unit’s PRT program.
- Soldiers meet AWCP and APFT standards.
- Medical consultation and support are provided.
- Healthcare instruction is available for the local PPPT program.
- Facilities and equipment are available for conducting the PPPT.
- Personnel are designated to conduct the PT portion of the PPPT program.
4-23. Adhere to the content, standards, policies, procedures, and responsibilities in the guide series and regulation.
- AR 350-1, Training and Leader Development.
- USAPHC Technical Guide Series 255A-E, U.S. Army Pregnancy/Postpartum Physical Training Program. The USAPHC provides and updates this series of guides, which provides the standards, policies, procedures, and responsibilities that Medical Command must follow in administering the PPPT program.
Reserve Component and Remotely Located Soldiers
4-24. Reserve component Soldiers, geographically remote Soldiers, and those assigned to installations with a small population of pregnant Soldiers may use the materials designed for an individualized PPPT program. These are available from USAPHC.
4-25. Soldiers diagnosed as pregnant or who are recovering from childbirth are exempt from regular unit physical training and APFT for the duration of the pregnancy and 180 days past the end of their pregnancy. These Soldiers are required to enroll in the Army PPPT Program. Before they may participate in the physical training portions of the PPPT program, they must receive clearance to do so from their health care provider. Before they start convalescent leave, postpartum Soldiers receive a postpartum profile. This 45-day temporary profile starts the day of the birth or end of the pregnancy. It specifies that the Soldier may engage in physical training at her own pace. Soldiers are encouraged to use the at-home component of the Army PPPT Program while on convalescent leave. Postpartum Soldiers may return to regular unit physical training before 180 days after the end of their pregnancy, but must receive health care provider clearance to do so.
FAILURE TO PERFORM TO STANDARD
4-26. Most units are diverse in physical readiness levels due to injuries, illnesses, deployments, and new Soldiers. This diversity may affect the number of APFT and unit physical readiness standard failures. Over time, a solid PRT program allows Soldiers to achieve the Army and unit standards. Performing high-quality training once per day is a better approach than conducting additional high-volume training that could lead to overuse injuries. Additional reinforcement training, if determined appropriate by the commander, should focus
on identified weaknesses and sustain strengths. Do not use supplemental training to punish a Soldier for the inability to perform well.
NEW SOLDIERS ENTERING UNITS
4-27. The new Soldier’s threshold level of physical performance may fall below the minimum for his gaining unit. He may be considered a borderline APFT performer or be borderline overweight. He may be fresh out of BCT, AIT, or OSUT, or may have just completed a permanent change of station move or returned from an extended deployment. These Soldiers are facing new conditions relating to physical performance (acclimatization to altitude, temperature, and humidity), which may take them up to four weeks to adapt. Although Soldiers leave IMT prepared to transition to the sustaining phase, they may de-train due to leave, transit, and in-processing at their new duty assignments just like Soldiers in operational units. New Soldiers need to train in the unit for 90 days before PRT leaders or AIs assess the Soldiers’ fitness levels. This timeframe allows them to acclimatize, assimilate into a unit PRT program, and adapt physiologically and psychologically.
4-28. Overweight Soldiers need not perform PRT with a special group. Instead, they should participate in unit PRT and continue to train with their units; however, they may require supplemental PRT, plus education on diet and exercise (Chapter 6 and AR 600-9). The supplemental PRT session focus for overweight Soldiers who perform unit PRT is on low-impact activities and resistance training to achieve caloric expenditure, build lean muscle mass, and promote optimal fat loss. Aim for 20 to 60 minutes of exercise by either walking or splitting the session between machines (15 minutes each on the bike, stepper, and rower). Leaders synchronize additional resistance training activities with strength and mobility sessions conducted during unit PRT. These additional training sessions should focus on total body strength development.
4-29. Overweight Soldiers not performing unit PRT should follow the activities on the unit schedule and supplement with further aerobic exercise. Resistance training for overweight Soldiers should be initially limited to normal PRT activities such as CDs and CLs. Resistance exercise can stimulate muscle growth and aid fat loss. The more lean mass is present, the more calories are needed to sustain it. Weight loss may not occur if lean mass is added through resistance training. In this case, Soldiers will have a lower body fat percentage, but not a lower weight. Because AR 600-9 specifies that satisfactory progress for this program is measured in pounds, not body fat, reassessment of the Soldier’s progress should include both weigh-ins and circumference measurements.
4-30. Today’s Soldier understands the critical importance of individual physical readiness. This is especially true for RC Soldiers whose collective training periods are spread throughout the training year. Reserve component units must meet the challenge of physical readiness for mission performance often with less collective training time than regular Army units; therefore, it is critical for RC commanders to apply the Army training management process. Using this process, the commander can systematically manage time and resources to meet training objectives through purposeful training activities. He also uses the process to identify training requirements and subsequently plan, prepare, execute, and assess all training. The Army’s training management model provides the framework for commanders to achieve proficiency in their unit’s mission-essential task list (METL). The unit METL drives training.
4-31. Army Force Generation is the driving force behind training management. The Army provides campaign capable, expeditionary forces through ARFORGEN. Army Force Generation also applies to Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve units. Army Force Generation is based on a three-phase readiness cycle. The three phases of ARFORGEN are:
4-32. Each phase has a specific focus. The reset phase focuses on individual and collective training tasks that support their C- and/or D-METL. The train/ready phase focuses on higher level collective tasks associated specifically with deployment. The available phase continues focus on higher level collective tasks as the unit is considered trained and available for immediate alert and deployment to a specified contingency. Unit commanders and PRT leaders can plan PRT based on the specific requirements addressed in each of the ARFORGEN phases. Chapter 5 provides commanders and PRT leaders with training schedules based on the three phases of ARFORGEN.
4-33. Unit PRT activities should be incorporated into individual duty for training (IDT) periods. Commanders must determine how much emphasis to place on PRT activities and allocate time and resources accordingly. At a minimum, one hour of PRT activities should be incorporated into every sixteen hours of unit training during IDT periods. During annual training (AT) periods, units should try to conduct PRT five times per week.
4-34. Valuable RC collective PRT time should not be focused on preparing Soldiers to take the APFT; nor should the focus of PRT during IDT periods be on achieving a training effect. The focus should be on precisely teaching and leading the activities in this TC. On some occasions, Soldiers might have to perform at near-maximal effort during training, such as in the conduct of a unit foot march or other training activities. This should be the exception, not the norm. A training program in which Soldiers are expected to perform at near-maximal effort once a month will not achieve the desired physiological changes, no matter how intense. This type of program probably causes more harm than good and typically violates the commander’s CRM.
4-35. An ideal unit PRT program strives to give Soldiers the knowledge they need to conduct their own quality PRT sessions between unit assemblies. The program should increase Soldier motivation so they habitually train on their own. Incorporating the PRT activities in this TC into IDT periods is one way to effect motivation with the added benefit of providing commanders a physical readiness snapshot. Most of the exercises, drills, and activities in this TC support the type of RC unit PRT program described in this section. For example, Soldiers would collectively learn CD 1 during the unit assembly—then train on their own between unit assemblies— raising their proficiency and readiness level at the same time. Soldiers are then prepared for PRT sessions conducted during subsequent IDT and AT periods. Few of the exercises, drills, and activities in this TC require expensive or hard-to-obtain equipment so they can easily be performed individually.
4-36. Use USAR troop program unit and Army National Guard mobilization day Soldiers who have civilian health and fitness experience to assist in conducting the program, especially the reconditioning program (Chapter 6). All NCOs should learn and be able to teach the exercises, drills, and activities in this TC.
4-37. Chapter 5, Planning Considerations, covers how PRT activities can be integrated into an example RC yearly training cycle. The focus of collective PRT during unit AT should be on increasing the unit physical readiness level. For this to be effective, PRT activities on the example unit AT schedule must be introduced during IDT periods and trained individually before AT. Chapter 5 also provides 5-day PRT schedules that can be used during AT periods or by RC Soldiers for individual training sessions.
4-38. Effective leadership is critical to the success of a PRT program. History has taught us that often Soldiers and units may not be afforded the time to develop an appropriate level of physical readiness and resilience during mobilization. Commanders can reduce this risk by applying the following strategies to meet individual and unit goals and objectives.
4-39. Clearly explaining the objectives and benefits of the program ensures that the time allotted for PRT is used effectively; therefore, leaders must constantly emphasize the value of PRT and commanders must provide resources to support a program that will improve each Soldier’s level of physical readiness. Mandatory participation is essential. All individuals, regardless of rank, age or gender benefit from regular exercise. In some instances, leaders will need to make special efforts to overcome recurring problems that interfere with regular training. To foster a positive attitude, unit and PRT leaders must be knowledgeable, understanding, and fair, but demanding. A high level of physical readiness and resilience cannot be attained by simply going through the motions. Smart, realistic, and challenging training to standard is essential. Leaders should not punish Soldiers who fail to perform to standard, because this often does more harm than good. They must recognize individual differences and motivate Soldiers to put forth their best efforts. The application of reconditioning PRT will progressively return Soldiers with medical profiles to the unit. It also allows them to train with the unit whenever possible, within the limits of their profiles.
LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE
4-40. Leaders must understand and practice Army physical readiness doctrine. Their example will emphasize the importance of PRT and highlight it as a key element of the unit’s training mission. Command presence and participation at PRT formations and assessments will set a positive example for subordinates.
4-41. Commanders must ensure that leaders are trained to supervise and conduct PRT. The doctrinal concepts and unit program models presented in this TC are starting points for commanders and PRT leaders to optimize unit PRT and assessment.
Evaluation And Standards
4-42. Commanders must use the unit’s mission and C-or D-METL as criteria for evaluating PRT program effectiveness.
4-43. Highly disciplined and physically fit Soldiers make for a corps spirit that inspires organizations to dare because of their ability to do. PRT programs must therefore develop every Soldier’s physical potential to the fullest. When PRT is executed precisely, Soldiers develop discipline; disciplined Soldiers perform all duties with greater confidence and success. Well-run programs also enhance physical resilience.
“Such discipline may therefore be defined as the voluntary, intelligent, and cheerful subordination of every individual in an equal degree with every other individual of the mass to which he belongs, and of which he is an interdependent and not independent unit, through which the object of the mass can alone be attained.”
LTC Herman J. Koehler
4-44. Safety is a major consideration when planning and evaluating PRT programs. Commanders should use the CRM process for all PRT activities to ensure they do not place their Soldiers at undue risk for injury or accident. The commander should address:
- Environmental conditions.
- Emergency procedures.
- Differences in age.
- Level of conditioning of each Soldier in the unit.
“The best form of welfare for the troops is first-class training.”
B. H. Liddell Hart, British Military Tactician
PRT is the commander’s program. It must reflect his training goals and be based on the principles of precision, progression, and integration. The purpose of the PRT program is to develop and maintain a high level of unit physical readiness appropriate to duty position and for the conduct of full spectrum operations. The goal is to improve each Soldier’s physical ability to survive, be resilient and win on the battlefield. Well-planned PRT optimizes physical performance in the completion of the critical Soldier and leader tasks that support the unit’s mission, C-METL and/or D-METL. The unit METL drives training. Army Force Generation is the driving force behind training management. The Army provides campaign capable, expeditionary forces through ARFORGEN. Army Force Generation applies to both regular Army and RS (Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve) units.