Goodbye, chin-ups, shuttle run and standing broad jump.
The Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) will be reduced from five stations to just three: 2.4km run, sit-ups and push-ups.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced the changes in a Facebook post yesterday. He said the new format will make it simpler for NSmen to train for and pass their IPPT.
A new scoring system with more age bands will be implemented. Instead of a pass mark for each station, points will be awarded for each station and the combined points from the three stations will be used for assessment.
"This way, soldiers can make up through more sit-ups if they are weak in push-ups and running, and vice versa. There's a limit to how much you can make up, but I like this counting system because it encourages NSmen to max out on each station and it plays to the individual's strengths," he wrote on his Facebook page.
This is the first change made to the IPPT since 1982.
Chief of Army Perry Lim will provide more details today.
However, the change has left some Singaporeans wondering: Will the new IPPT produce weaker soldiers?
After all, the chin-up and the standing broad jump, which have been removed, were the stations that NSmen had the most trouble clearing.
Netizen Ashri Aereids replied to Dr Ng's Facebook post, saying: "Sir, thank you for the review. But seriously, no chin-ups? How to climb low wall and low rope like that?
"Did you see the embarrassing video of the deployed Israeli reservist soldiers who can't even pull themselves up a low wall on Gaza rooftops? Chin-ups are a key part of building core muscles, that's why it should still stay there."
Government Parliamentary Committees Chairman for Defence and Foreign Affairs Sitoh Yih Pin told The New Paper: "The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) must have made this decision after serious evaluation. After all, they have conducted millions of IPPTs.
"Personally, I'm very glad the standing broad jump is out. Even fit NSmen struggle to pass that station. Furthermore, the remaining stations are easy to train for. NSmen can easily go for a jog round the block and do sit-ups and push-ups at home. No special equipment is required."
Mr Tan Kwoh Jack, 35, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, agreed with the change.
He suggested that the IPPT change gels with the idea of incorporating fitness habits into a person's lifestyle.
He said: "This makes it easier for NSmen to pass the test and if this leads to our NSmen adopting a healthier lifestyle, this is a good change."
There were mixed reactions from several fitness instructors we spoke to.
Mr Sasha Soliano, 39, an ex-regular commando and a martial arts instructor, said: "It will definitely not make weaker soldiers.
"I'm sure the process would have gone through a panel of experts after thorough ground research and even surveys.
"It might even almost be similar to the current United States Army Physical Fitness Test, so I'm sure our soldiers will still be fit for combat."
Mr Edric Lim, 20, who is studying to be a personal trainer and has yet to serve his National Service, remains neutral about the changes.
He said: "There must have been reasons for the change. We must understand that physical fitness is based on several different aspects and I think the new format will be as difficult as it used to be."
Mr Sheldon Yen, 24, a personal trainer of five years, believed that some soldiers will be less motivated to do well.
He said: "With only three stations now, people might be less motivated to train for their IPPT as they think they can just get by.
"The standing broad jump engages the lower body muscles heavily and its removal might lead to more injuries in soldiers."
The remaining stations are easy to train for. NSmen can easily go for a jog round the block and do sit-ups and push-ups at home. No special equipment is required.
- Government Parliamentary Committees Chairman for Defence and Foreign Affairs Sitoh Yih Pin
This article was first published on July 24, 2014.
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