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 read iness.
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
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) Singapore IPPT 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) Singapore IPPT 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
This article was first published on July 4, 2014.
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