Military members with more muscle are penalized during fitness tests.
Keeping with my recent theme of there being a general anti muscle bias…I’m sure this will come as no surprise to those in the military, but it’s good to see that objective data shows the bigger guys and gals in the military tend to be penalized for carrying extra muscle mass during testing. A paper by a Dr. Vanderburgh published in Military Medicine entitled “Correction Factors for Body Mass Bias in Military Physical Fitness Tests” concludes “…recent research evidence indicates that military physical fitness tests penalize heavier service members and do not measure levels of absolute fitness, arguably just as important as relative fitness.”
His research suggests there is a 15% – 20% penalty on heavier (not fatter! ) service members during the physical fitness tests of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force. In fact, these physical fitness tests imposes a systematic bias against heavier service members and this bias is independent of percent body fat.
This is a very interesting finding in my view and supports the fact there exists an anti muscle bias where endurance is rewarded but strength is not, even if it does not reflect the actual needs of soldiers or the general population.
The fact is, having more muscle mass (which may lead to slower run times) is more relevant to soldiers with “… the common push-up, sit-ups, abdominal crunches, and curl-up tests not only impose an unfair body mass bias, but they may have limited occupational relevance as well.”
Per my comments in a prior blog on reducing injury rates of SOF soldiers, it’s good to see researchers are starting to identify the limitations of “traditional” training used by the military and are suggesting ways of improving that training which will lead to improved performance and reduced rates of injury for the war fighter. Hopefully, these finding will trickle there way down into the training of our military forces.

6 Comments
  1. Matthew 10 years ago

    Any standard of measurement that infers a 260lb man with 5% body fat should be placed in the same fitness category as a 260lb man with 30% body fat is clearly in need of serious revision. One would expect that if any organization should give a hoot about what science has to say, it would be the military, but apparently not all the way across the board. That’s analogous to saying that 2 objects of equal volume, (or of equal mass, but not both), but completely different elemental percent composition are ostensibly interchangeable. Unexamined presuppositions are the death knell of the pursuit of truth.

  2. Author
    Will Brink 10 years ago

    Well said Mattew!

  3. fairlane 10 years ago

    Does it even matter? In a few years the soldier will be replaced by Robots ! 😀
    “SkyNET became self aware on Aug 12th at 8:37 EST……” 😉

  4. dustin 10 years ago

    As one of those meat heads you describe in your article, i fully support everything you said. i never failed a prt/pft in my career, but came close, and it was always on the run. before i started lifting weights and bodybuilding, i was an excellent runner at 175 lbs. in japan around 02′..i put on weight exponentially, eventually i hit 235 around 07′, and any run between then was a battle, even though i tried to haul as much a** as i could. any other strength obstacle put down to me wasnt a problem.
    in short, its easier to supply a 175 lbs machine with the oxygen required to run long distances that it is a 235 lbs power house.
    i really hope they revise this soon, because bodybuilding amoung our fellow service members is growing…FAST!

  5. Private Label Rights 10 years ago

    Your post just made my day – so glad I got to read it,

  6. Bodybuilding Blog 10 years ago

    Wow pretty stupid that people with muscle who are obviously fit get penalized.

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