By Buddy Blouin
Several different factors all contribute to a common problem for the U.S. Army: recruiting isn’t going well. It’s hard to get recruits, and even when they do, it’s hard to find people that fit the rigorous standards necessary to keep the American Armed Forces as the elite military force in the world. Thankfully, measures are being put into place to help address this issue, including better efforts to get recruits into fighting shape. Fort Jackson basic training is built to create elite Soldiers, and the pre-basic training preparatory course the military base will soon offer aims at getting Soldiers ready faster.

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Increase Your Chances During Basic Training at Fort Jackson

A prep course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, under training cadre from 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry is beginning in an effort to better prepare recruits for basic training. The Army announced the creation of the Future Soldier Preparatory Course, aimed at helping prospective Soldiers prepare for basic training. The standards in place are causing part of the Army’s recruiting problems, with the branch expecting to miss its fiscal 2022 strength goal by around 10,000 Soldiers. This will send the total number of Soldiers down to under 447,000, with many experts expecting the problem to continue in the near future. Army test scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test and a rise in obesity are sending the service branch in the wrong direction if it’s to meet its 500,000 member goal by 2030. Aptitude test scores have decreased by 9% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. These pre-Army basic training workouts will hopefully help recruits improve their chances from a physical standpoint by losing weight and upping physical fitness test scores.

What the Future Soldier Preparatory Course Prepares You For

There are many reasons Soldiers need to stay in shape. For starters, war is a literal fight that requires pushing the human body to its limits to achieve objectives and make it back home. The standards of the U.S. Army range by gender and age, but the goal is still the same: passing the physical fitness requirements and test. You’ll need to score a minimum of 60 points out of a potential maximum score of 360 points to pass the physical side of basic training at Fort Jackson. Here are the six events that make up the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT):
  1. The 3-Repetition Maximum Deadlift (MDL) will have you lifting the maximum weight possible three times using a 60-pound hex bar and plates to test muscular strength, balance, and flexibility.
  2. During the Standing Power Throw (SPT), you'll throw a 10-pound medicine ball backward and overhead as far as possible to gauge your power, balance, and flexibility.
  3. Hand Release Push-Up–Arm Extension (HRP) sees Soldiers completing as many hand-release push-ups as possible within two minutes to test endurance.
  4. More muscular endurance is tested during the Sprint-Drag-Carry (SDC). You’ll be tested by completing five 50-meter shuttles (sprint, drag, lateral, carry, sprint) as fast as you can using two 40-pound kettlebells and a 90-pound sled.
  5. Plank (PLK) is where you’ll have to hold a plank as long as possible to test your muscular strength and endurance.
  6. Finally, your aerobic endurance is tested during a Two-Mile Run conducted on a flat course outdoors.
Beyond the pre-Army basic training workout course coming to Fort Jackson, those preparing to serve the Army can check out plenty of videos with helpful training instructions on YouTube. Pre-basic training workout plans and serving in the military aside, this is a great way for anyone to get into shape and drop a few pounds.

Who Can Prepare for Basic Training?

The prep courses will feature programs for improving both fitness and academic performance. Here's who's eligible for the training program:
  • In the academic track, applicants with AFQT scores of 21 to 31 can work to improve their score to Category IIIB should they wish. Recruits with scores in Category IV tests can only make up 4% of a cohort.
  • Applicants can participate in a fitness course if they enlist with 2-6% more body fat than the military standard for their gender and age.
  • In order to climb from aptitude Category IIIB to IIIA, applicants with an AFQT score of 42 to 49 can "voluntarily participate” in either or both of the prep courses.
The goal is for those in the fitness program to lose 1-2% of body fat per month. Participants may exit the program once they are within 2% of the standard for their age and gender. Using a mix of Army skills instructors, civilian instructors, and drill sergeants, courses will focus on training those who attend and are on 09M delayed training contracts. This is to prepare them for the harsher go of things during basic training. There are mixed feelings about whether or not the program will help address the problem. Some believe that it’s a good thing to help revamp recruitment, while others believe the problems are larger than a prep workout. One thing is for sure; if you're attending Fort Jackson basic training, this is a great opportunity to get ahead of the curve.

Related read:

Army Basic Training: Everything You Need To Know



Armed Forces Qualification Test
Basic Training Prep Course
Fort Jackson Basic Training
Future Soldier Preparatory Course

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