Extend 2.4km run for a better IPPT?
Experts weigh in on possibilities for new IPPT standards
Increase the distance of the 2.4km run and relax the timing standards to make the run safer, while keeping it effective in testing stamina and endurance in the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT).
This was fitness trainer Hisham Musa's suggestion for the standard fitness test taken by national servicemen in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
It now consists of five exercises - sit-ups, standing broad jump, chin-ups, a 2.4km run and a 4x10m shuttle run - which have remained the same since 1982.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said last week that there are plans to simplify the IPPT and cut down on the number of stations. The changes will be announced in the coming months.
Mr Hisham, 38, managing director of guruFITNESS.com, who has close to 20 years of experience in the fitness business, said: "I find the IPPT manageable. I've helped people train for their IPPT and BMT (Basic Military Training) before, and their biggest problem is usually the 2.4km run, which can be too intense for them.
"Instead of 2.4km, maybe they can do a 'beep test' like some other armies. It's better because it's less strenuous and still measures fitness and endurance levels. The runners can fall out anytime they feel the need to."
Mr Edwin Peng, 33, who was an SAF regular for 11 years, said one way to better measure fitness levels is to remove the one-minute time limit for static exercises like sit-ups and chin-ups.
The director of Krav Maga Culture, a studio teaching the Israeli self-defence system, suggests having servicemen do the maximum number of sit-ups or chin-ups without stopping for more than two seconds between each try.
"Physical fitness should be measured to one's maximum ability in doing one exercise. Often, most of the participants will stop at the minimum required (to get a certain grade) although they still have time," he said.
Mr Peng and Mr Hisham feel that while the IPPT does measure fitness levels of servicemen, these scores cannot be translated into a measure of one's combat readiness.
Mr Peng said: "To put this into perspective, an athlete can do really well in physical fitness. But when carrying a 15kg pack and doing the same exercises, he may not do as well as a soldier who carries a pack daily while doing activities."
It's better because it's less strenuous and still measures fitness and endurance levels. The runners can fall out anytime they feel the need to.
- Fitness trainer Hisham Musa, suggesting that the IPPT include the "beep test"
Physical fitness should be measured to one's maximum ability in doing one exercise... Often, most of the participants will stop at the minimum required (to get a certain grade) although they still have time.
- Mr Edwin Peng, who was an SAF regular for 11 years
OUR REPORTERS ARE PUT TO THE TEST
Two of our young reporters - Colin Tham, 19, who will start National Service next year, and Yue Yong Sheng, 24, who completed his NS in 2011 - took the Israel army fitness test and the Singapore IPPT on different days.
A total of 55 points is needed to pass the Israel test. To pass the IPPT, a combat serviceman needs a minimum D grade for every station and a minimum total of 12 points.
Here are their scores:
Israel Army Fitness Test
- 2km run: 8.59 (42 points)
- Push-ups: 40 (8 points)
- Sit-ups: 50 (7 points)
- Result: 57 points (Pass)
- 2.4km run: 12min 50sec (E)
- Sit-ups: 40 (A)
- Chin-ups: 7 (D)
- Standing broad jump: 228cm (C)
- Shuttle run: 10.48 (C)
- Result: Fail
YUE YONG SHENG
Israel Army Fitness Test
- 2km run: 9.04 (41 points)
- Push-ups: 25 (5 points)
- Sit-ups: 35 (4 points)
- Result: 50 points (Fail)
- 2.4km run: 11min 14sec (C)
- Sit-ups: 49 (A)
- Chin-ups: 4 (E)
- Standing broad-jump: 210cm (E)
- Shuttle run: 10.20 (B)
- Result: Fail
Chin up, IPPT's not so bad
Run 2km? Easy.
Forty push-ups? Nothing to fret over.
Fifty sit-ups? No sweat.
Now do all three back to back with no breaks.
Add a tough scoring system where the run accounts for 70 per cent of the total score and you have the Israeli Defence Force Fitness test.
I have regular gym workouts and occasionally jog around my HDB estate, so I thought: "This should still be a piece of cake."
How wrong I was.
The run started fine, but after three laps around the track, I wasn't so sure.
Fatigue was setting in and my legs were beginning to feel like lead.
Worse was that nagging thought: "You're not done after this, you still have two levels of hell left."
By the time I completed the run, every push-up felt like torture.
Sit-ups were more manageable, but not by much.
In the end, I passed by a mere two points, with 57/100.
It was a humbling experience.
The Israeli test took so much out of me that I suffered through the 2.4km run in the IPPT the next morning.
While I had clocked just below nine minutes in the 2km run, I took almost four minutes more to run the extra 400m in the IPPT 2.4km.
If I had gone in fresh for the IPPT, I would say that it would have been much easier.
The Israeli testpushes you to the limits of your endurance and stretches your willpower to extreme levels.
But the IPPT, with its wider test spectrum, allows for a more complete analysis of a person's strengths.
- COLIN THAM
Different tests in different countries
SINGAPORE (VOCATION GROUPING: COMBAT, BELOW 25 YEARS OLD)
The Singapore test consists of five stations and pass standards are based on age, vocation and operationally ready date (ORD).
To pass, servicemen have to get at least a pass in every station:
- Sit-ups (in 1min) : 31-34
- Standing broad-jump: 216-225cm
- Chin-ups: 6-8
- 4x10m Shuttle Run: 10.6-10.4sec
- 2.4km Run-Walk: 11min 41sec-11min 1sec
BRITAIN (18-26 YEARS OLD)
- Beep test score: Level 10.2 (about 11 shuttles over a 20m distance in 61s)
- Sit-ups (in 2min): 50
- Push-ups (in 2min): 44
- 2.4km run: 14min 30sec (Timings depend on vocation)
UNITED STATES (17-21 YEARS OLD)
- Sit-ups (in 2min): 53
- Push-ups (in 2min): 42
- 3.2km run: 15min 54sec
AUSTRALIA (ALL AGES)
Standards differ for personnel in the army, air force and navy.
- Sit-ups (in 2min): 45
- Push-ups (in 2min): 15
- Beep test score: 7.5 (about 10 shuttles over a 20m distance in 63s)
ISRAEL (ALL AGES)
The test is usually conducted three times - at the beginning, middle and end of training.
It consists of: 2km run, sit-ups and push-ups
Each exercise carries a certain number of points which will be added up. The static exercises carry a maximum of 15 points each, while the run carries up to 70 points.
There is no time limit for the static exercises. Servicemen have to do as many as possible without stopping for more than two seconds. The three exercises are performed one after another with little to no rest in between. The run is usually the first station.
The passing score for combat soldiers is 55 points.