Physical Readiness

LAST UPDATED: January 02, 2023

Functional fitness and Army PRT

Physical Readiness is the ability to meet the physical demands of any combat or duty position, accomplish the mission, and continue to fight and win.

The Army’s Physical Readiness Training (PRT) Program creates a daily opportunity to build the strength, power, speed, and agility required to help Soldiers meet their mission. PRT is rooted in established principles of exercise science designed to build the Soldier athlete and includes training activities that directly support war-fighting and operational tasks. As a result, the program is essential to individual, unit, and force readiness.

Army PRT is guided by three principles of readiness training:

  1. Precision: ensures all PRT activities are executed using proper technique to reduce injury risk.
  2. Progression: gradually increases the intensity and duration of PRT activities to allow the body to properly adapt to the stresses of training.
  3. Integration: includes a variety of training activities (such as conditioning, climbing, and movement drills) in the program to achieve a balanced development of strength, endurance, and mobility.

Quick facts about PRT

  • Increases skills related to warrior tasks and battle drills (such as jumping, crawling, lifting, and negotiating obstacles).
  • Designed to minimize injuries commonly sustained in fitness training.
  • Prepares Soldiers for the Army Physical Fitness Test.
  • Uses aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic (lifting and sprinting) exercises to optimize performance.
  • Includes a four-phase training cycle, designed to train Soldiers recovering from deployment (or extended absence from unit PRT) up to the deployment and/or combat mission standard.
  • Includes a reconditioning program for Soldiers recovering from injury.

Functional fitness

The Army’s PRT doctrine includes training for functional fitness. Functional fitness training uses drills, exercises, or activities that are specific to movements, skills, and physical demands needed for a given task. For example, performing single leg squats, lunges, crunches, and medicine ball throws requires the physical skills needed to react to man-to-man contact. Functional fitness is composed of strength, endurance, and movement skills (agility, coordination, and balance), which will get Soldiers fit for their mission and reduce risk of injury.

Shoot. Move. Communicate.

Deployed Soldiers have identified that the most important tasks related to physical readiness involve:

  • Acquiring and engaging targets
  • Conducting individual movement techniques in full combat gear
  • Walking long distances under extreme conditions in full combat gear
  • Sending and receiving communications during physical exertion
  • Lifting and carrying heavy equipment

The following exercises demonstrate how training with a functional fitness focus can prepare Soldiers for the activities they may perform during deployment.

Task: Acquiring and engaging targets

   Related exercise: Half kneel curl press, steps 1–5

Task: Conducting individual movement technique

Related exercise: Lateral hops (single leg alternating)

Task: Walking long distances in full combat gear

Related exercise: Medicine ball squat and reach

Task: Sending and receiving communications during physical exertions

Related exercise: Jogging

Preparing for wearing body armor and road marching

During field training, operational or combat deployments, and combat training center rotations, you will be wearing body armor and carrying equipment. Many Soldiers struggle with the extra load and get injuries and pain problems that make them combat ineffective during this time. Why does this happen? They were not fit and trained for the task!

Soldiers must practice carrying loads and wearing equipment just as they practice marksmanship, battle drills, and MOS tasks. Some Soldiers, like light infantrymen and cavalry scouts, will be required to carry more than intelligence analysts and network communications technicians. Even Soldiers who have technical or supervisory jobs have some requirement for these tasks—there are no exceptions on the battlefield!

Field Manual 21-18, Foot Marches, is the Army’s resource for conducting this training. You should take into consideration your unit’s mission, the MOS tasks required of Soldiers, and your weekly physical training schedule when conducting foot march and load carriage training.

For Soldiers who aren’t used to road marching or are returning to the unit after injury, having a beginning program is important. Try this sample once per week schedule to get started. You can build up distance and weight as you go—but don’t increase both weight and distance at the same time. Start slow and work yourself and your team up as you adapt. Don’t schedule distance running the day before or after a foot march.

Sample foot march beginning program*
Week Weight Distance
1 Body Armor Only 2 Miles
2 Body Armor Only 3 Miles
3 Body Armor Only 4 Miles
4 Body Armor + Pack (20 lbs.) 2 Miles
5 Body Armor + Pack (20 lbs.) 3 Miles
6 Body Armor + Pack (30 lbs.) 3 Miles
7 Body Armor + Pack (30 lbs.) 4 Miles
8 Body Armor + Pack (40 lbs.) 4 Miles

* Adapted from Building the Soldier Athlete: Profile Physical Training Supplement, US Army Office of the Surgeon General.

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