SAF soldiers' IPPT likely to change from next year

Servicemen would likely welcome the scrapping of the standing broad jump (above). A good number of them fail the station and have to undergo remedial training. -- ST FILE PHOTO
Servicemen would likely welcome the scrapping of the standing broad jump (above). A good number of them fail the station and have to undergo remedial training. -- ST FILE PHOTO

Every soldier, airman and sailor may have to undergo a new physical fitness test from next year.

The Singapore Armed Forces is looking to change the Individual Physical Proficiency Test, or IPPT, for the first time since 1982.

Key changes are expected to include the scrapping of the standing broad jump station and adding push-ups as a testing criterion, The Straits Times has learnt.

Servicemen will also have to run 3.2km instead of the current 2.4km to test endurance over longer distances.

The changes could kick in as early as next April.

The current IPPT has five stations: the chin-up, standing broad jump, 4x10m shuttle, sit-up and the 2.4km run.

The army's assistant chief of the general staff (training) Ng Ying Thong declined to confirm the changes, other than to say the SAF "constantly reviews its training system to stay relevant".

"The current IPPT remains the test protocol for individual physical fitness in the SAF," he said.

Sources say military top brass is finalising the changes, though senior SAF ground commanders have been told of likely tweaks.

Asked yesterday if changes are in the offing, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said they are an "operational requirement", adding: "It is not a political dictate and I defer to my SAF generals to tell me whether the system for getting people fit, for helping them to maintain fitness, is appropriate or not."

About 116,000 people a year take the IPPT but the Defence Ministry did not reveal pass rates.

Many servicemen will breathe a sigh of relief if the broad jump is axed.

Failing it, as plenty have, means the soldier has to undergo remedial training.

Mindef and the SAF have insisted the IPPT serves as a "baseline measure of physical fitness".

Servicemen and women must achieve IPPT standards set according to their gender and age.

The test, launched in 1979, initially included half-knee bends and required regulars and national servicemen to take the test in army t-shirts, slacks and boots.

Both components were removed.

The latest IPPT revision will put the SAF test in line with its Australian and US counterparts.

Dr Teh Kong Chuan, senior consultant at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital's Sports Medicine Centre, said running longer distances may not be more intense if the time required to do it is lengthened.

But he added: "A longer run will be a good test of cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance."

Personal trainer Chris Chew, who trains people to help them pass the IPPT, said push-ups will better test upper body strength and welcomed the removal of the standing broad jump.

He said: "It is about rhythm, which is not relevant on a battlefield and not very effective in strengthening the lower limbs."

The jump has seen NSman and accountant Norman Ng fail the IPPT most of the times he has taken it.

The 29-year-old, who is due to take his IPPT next August, said: "Hopefully I can do a lot better and pass with a silver to qualify for the monetary reward."

jermync@sph.com.sg