CADET PHYSICAL FITNESS TEST
During this meeting, you will take your first Cadet Physical Fitness Test for your baseline score. Here is a refresher on the rules for each event.
The Cadet Physical Fitness Test, or CPFT as you will often hear it referred to, is a test of your general fitness tied to each promotion. This test covers four events: the Back-Saver Sit and Reach, Curl Ups, Push Ups, and a Run option. For the run option there is a timed Mile Run or the PACER. For Phase 1 (C/AB through C/SrA) you take the test as a baseline to see how you are improving. In order to accomodate cadets who might not be active before joining, you do not have to receive a passing score until Phase 2, but you must show progress towards improvement. In Phase 2 and beyond (C/SSgt through C/Lt Col), you must pass one of the run options and two out of three of the non-running events. Every event must be attempted each time you test unless you are injured or placed on a Physical Fitness Restriction. A passing score is valid for each promotion in a six month window from the date the PT test was passed. Cadets testing for the Spaatz Award (C/Col) must pass the U.S. Air Force Academy Candidate Fitness Assesment. The passing requirements can be found in the Draft CAPP 52-18 Cadet Physical Fitness Program. You will typically have one chance every quarter (March, June, August, December) to pass the CPFT (weather permitting), however the Mile Run will only be offered when the weather conditions allow. Below we will provide a description of each event.
Back-Saver Sit and Reach
The back-saver sit and reach is performed on one side at a time. By testing one leg at a time a determination can be made of any asymmetry in hamstring flexibility, and hyperextension of both knees is avoided. The sit and reach measures predominantly the flexibility of the hamstring muscles. Normal hamstring flexibility allows rotation of the pelvis in forward bending movements and posterior tilting of the pelvis for proper sitting. The test objective is to be able to reach the specified distance on the right and left sides of the body. The distance required is adjusted for age and gender. The cadet removes his or her shoes and sits down at the test apparatus. One leg is fully extended with the foot flat against the face of the box. The other knee is bent with the sole of the foot flat on the floor. The instep is placed in line with, and 2 to 3 inches to the side of, the straight knee. The arms are extended forward over the measuring scale with the hands placed one on top of the other. With palms down, the student reaches directly forward (keeping back straight and the head up) with both hands along the scale four times and holds the position of the fourth reach for at least 1 second. After one side has been measured, the student switches the position of the legs and reaches again. The student may allow the bent knee to move to the side as the body moves forward if necessary, but the sole of the foot must remain on the floor. Record the number of inches on each side to the nearest 1/2 inch reached, to a maximum score of 12 inches. Performance is limited to discourage hypermobility. To pass, the cadet should meet the standard on both the right and the left sides. Here is a video tutorial for the Back-Saver Sit and Reach.
The curl-up with knees flexed and feet unanchored has been selected because individually these elements have been shown to a) decrease movement of the fifth lumbar vertebra over the sacral vertebrae, b) minimize the activation of the hip flexors, c) increase the activation of the external and internal obliques and transverse abdominals, and d) maximize abdominal muscle activation of the lower and upper rectus abdominals relative to disc compression (load) when compared with a variety of sit-ups. The objective is to complete as many curl-ups as possible up to a maximum of 75 at a specified pace. Partner A lies in a supine position on the mat, knees bent at an angle of approximately 140°, feet flat on the floor, legs slightly apart, arms straight and parallel to the trunk with palms of hands resting on the mat. The fingers are stretched out and the head is in contact with the mat. Make sure cadets have extended their feet as far as possible from the buttocks while still allowing feet to remain flat on floor. The closer the feet are positioned in relation to the buttocks, the more difficult the movement. After partner A has assumed the correct position on the mat, partner B places a measuring strip on the mat under partner A’s legs so that partner A’s fingertips are just resting on the nearest edge of the measuring strip. Partner B then kneels down at partner A’s head in a position to count curlups and watch for form breaks. Partner B places a piece of paper under partner A’s head. The paper will assist partner B in judging if partner A’s head touches down on each repetition. The observer should watch for the paper to crinkle each time partner A touches it with his or her head. Before beginning the curl-up, it is a good practice for partner B to pull on partner A’s hands to ensure that the shoulders are relaxed and in a normal resting position. If partner A is allowed to hunch the shoulders before beginning the test, he or she may be able to get the fingertips t o the other side of the testing strip by merely moving the arms and shoulders up and down. Keeping heels in contact with the mat, partner A curls up slowly, sliding fingers across the measuring strip until fingertips reach the other side; then partner A curls back down until his or her head touches the piece of paper on the mat. Movement should be slow and gauged to the specified cadence of 1 curl every 3 seconds. Partner A continues with-out pausing until he or she can no longer continue or has completed 75 curl-ups. Cadets are stopped after completing 75 curl-ups, when the second form correction is made, or when they can no longer continue. Heels must remain in contact with the mat. Head must return to the mat on each repetition. Pauses and rest periods are not allowed. The movement should be continuous and with the cadence. Fingertips must touch the far side of the measuring strip. The score is the number of curl-ups performed. Curl-ups should be counted when the student’s head returns to the mat. For ease in administration, it is permissible to count the first incorrect curl-up. Here is a video tutorial for the Curl Ups.
The 90° push-up to an elbow angle of 90° tests for upper body strength and endurance. The objective is to complete as many 90° push-ups as possible at a rhythmic pace. The cadets are paired; one will perform the test while the other counts 90° push-ups and watches to see that the cadet being tested bends the elbow to 90° with the upper arm parallel to the floor. The cadet being tested assumes a prone position on the mat with hands placed under or slightly wider than the shoulders, fingers stretched out, legs straight and slightly apart, and toes tucked under. The cadet pushes up off the mat with the arms until arms are straight, keeping the legs and back straight. The back should be kept in a straight line from head to toes throughout the test. The cadet then lowers the body using the arms until the elbows bend at a 90° angle and the upper arms are parallel to the floor. This movement is repeated as many times as possible. The cadet should push up and continue the movement until the arms are straight on each repetition. The rhythm is 1 90° push-up every 3 seconds. Cadets are stopped when the second form correction (mistake) is made. Only one form correction is allowed. Form Corrections include stopping to rest or not maintaining a rhythmic pace, not achieving a 90° angle with the elbow on each repetition, not maintaining correct body position with a straight back, or not extending arms fully. The score is the number of 90° push-ups performed. For ease in administration, it is permissible to count the first incorrect 90° push-up. Here is a video tutorial for the Push Ups.
This test event measures cardiovascular endurance. The test is normally conducted on a rubberized track surface. At our squadron it will either be on a fifth mile track (5 laps) or half mile track (2 laps). You will ready yourself behind the designated starting line with faster cadets positioned in the front of the pack. At the command, “Ready, GO!,” you start running and timing begins. You may run, jog, or walk during this event. It is important to keep moving in order to get your best score possible. Be sure to stay on the track at all times to avoid twisting an ankle. Each time you cross your designated finish line, call out your last name. When you are approaching your last pass over the finish line, listen for your time and ensure it was recorded next to your name. Here is a video tutorial for the Mile Run.
This test event, which is an alternative to the Mile Run, stands for Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run. The PACER is a multistage fitness test which is progressive in intensity—it is easy at the beginning and gets more difficult at the end. The progressive nature of the test provides a built-in warm-up and helps cadets to pace themselves. The objective is to run as long as possible with continuous movement back and forth across a 20-meter space at a specified pace that gets faster each minute. Each cadet being tested should run across the 20-meter distance and touch the line with a foot by the time the beep sounds. The cadet should take full weight on the foot that is touching the line. At the sound of the beep, the cadet turns around and runs back to the other end. If some cadets get to the line before the beep, they must wait for the beep before running the other direction. Cadets continue in this manner until they fail to reach the line before the beep for the second time. A single beep will sound at the end of the time for each lap. A triple beep sounds at the end of each minute. The triple beep serves the same function as the single beep and also alerts the runners that the pace will get faster. Inform students that when the triple beep sounds, they should not stop but should continue the test by turning and running toward the other end of the area. The first time a cadet does not reach the line by the time of the beep, the cadet stops where he or she is and reverses direction immediately, attempting to get back on pace. The test is completed for a cadet the next time (second time) he or she fails to reach the line by the time of the beep (the two misses do not have to be consecutive; the test is over after two total misses). Students just completing the test should continue to walk and stretch in the designated cool-down area. For scoring in the PACER test, a lap is one 20-meter distance (from one end to the other). The scorer records the lap number (crossing off each lap number) on a PACER score sheet. The recorded score is the total number of laps completed by the cadet. Here is a video tutorial for the PACER.
For more information on the CPFT and ways to best prepare for it, visit the Active Cadet Fitness page on the National Headquarters website.