Army to introduce gender and age-neutral fitness tests

Soldiers demonstrate the repeated lift and carry stage in the British Army’s New Physical Employment Standards Test (Andrew Matthews/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Army is to scrap fitness tests that make allowances based on gender and age and will introduce new “gender and age-neutral” physical assessments, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The new tests, which will be rolled out next year, aim to ensure all close combat soldiers are physically prepared for the rigours of modern battle.

Field Army Sergeant Major Gavin Paton said: “I don’t care if you are a man or a woman, I don’t care what you do, and the enemy doesn’t either.”

The new tests, devised over a period of three years in conjunction with the University of Chichester, aim to more closely replicate combat scenarios by mimicking real-life military tasks such as carrying casualties, moving through enemy lines and transporting equipment.

Speaking at the Army base in Aldershot on Friday, Lance Corporal Nicola Cotton of the Scots Guards said the move was “really positive”.

“People underestimate females in the British Army. I think it is about time we upped the ante and make it equal and not make allowances for gender or age,” she added.

Another part of the test for soldiers Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

Under the new system soldiers will have to do a 4km march carrying 40kg of equipment in less than 40 minutes, followed by a 2km march carrying 25kg of equipment in under 15 minutes.

Soldiers will then have to complete a fire and move exercise in less than five minutes, followed by a 20m drag of a 110kg weight.

They will then have to carry two water cans weighing 22kg each over 240m in under four minutes, followed by lifting a 70kg weight and holding it for three seconds.

Finally soldiers will have to carry bags weighing 20kg 20 times over a distance of 30m.

Under the old system, which hasn’t been updated for 20 years, soldiers completed tasks including push-ups and sit-ups.

Lieutenant Colonel Anne Fieldhouse, from the Royal Army Military Corps, said the new tests need to “fit with the modern approach” to sports science.

Sgt Maj Paton said he could not comment on whether the new tests would impact on the recruitment of women and older people into the Army, but anybody who meets the physical requirements is “more than welcome”.

Similar changes to Army entry testing are set to be announced in December.