If you're thinking about joining the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and want to know the physical requirements, this post can help. The Canadian Armed Forces require all recruits or candidates to be in decent physical shape.
And no, you don't need to be a professional athlete to qualify. If you work out regularly and meet the basic physical requirements, you can apply for basic training. There you will take the FORCE (Fitness for Operational Requirements of Canadian Armed Forces Employment) fitness test to see if you're cut out to become a fully employed member of the CAF.
Basic Physical Requirements for the Canadian Armed Forces
So, apart from the desire to serve, you have to be in good physical condition to become a member of the armed forces.
Is it hard? Well, "hard" is relative. But the tasks are tough enough to make fit people exert themselves. This is why all candidates must meet the CAF's minimum physical requirements:
Can you do all of these? If yes, you should undergo a fitness appraisal. If you haven't been working out and do not consider yourself fit, we recommend you get on with your training before you apply.
How Will Your Fitness Profile Be Assessed for the CAF?
The assessment evaluates two critical aspects: operational fitness measured by your FORCE test results and health-related fitness. Two components will be considered to assess the latter: your cardio fitness derived from your FORCE test results and your waist circumference.
What this means, you will also want to fall within the healthy range when it comes to your BMI and body fat % to ensure you minimise any risks on your health, which would jeopardise your ability to fulfil your duties in the army.
What Is the FORCE Fitness Test?
FORCE is a four-part test designed to assess your physical strength during the first week of your basic training. You are required to complete all four to become an active recruit in the CAF. Some people are unable to pass the four objectives at once. If you can't, that's okay.
The Canadian Armed Forces have a "grace period" of 90 days for applicants to fulfil all four objectives. Individuals who cannot do so will be asked to leave the CAF and seek other opportunities.
What Can You Expect in the FORCE Fitness Test?
The FORCE fitness test comprises four crucial stages (formally called Stations). These include:
The candidate must lift 20kg sandbags from the ground above a height of 1.0m 30 times in less than 3 minutes 30 seconds. The 30 reps will be split between two bags spaced 1.25 meters apart. So, you lift the one on the left, then move to the one on the right and back until your 30 reps are complete.
Intermitted Loaded Shuttles
You will be doing shuttles between two markers 20m apart. You'll alternate between running loaded with a 20kg bag and unloaded. One shuttle is a run there and back, 40m in total, and you'll have to perform 10 shuttles under 5 minutes 21 seconds. This means you'll cover a total of 400 metres for the duration of this test.
Recruits are required to carry a 20kg sandbag by walking backward with it in a cradle carry whilst pulling a minimum of four extra bags on the floor for 20 meters without any rest.
Candidates are required to complete two 40-metre shuttle sprints (20 metres each way) in a max of 51 seconds. The trick here is that you'll start from a prone position, hands off the floor, and you'll need to drop into the same position and perform a hand release every 10 metres.
As you can see, this is brutal and requires excellent strength and conditioning to achieve. It's not for the weak or unfit who want to "test themselves".
You've got to be physically and mentally conditioned –because that's what the CAF is testing. They want to see if you have the physical ability and mental strength to see it through and accomplish those tasks.
How to Train for the CAF?
If you haven't been exercising regularly and have any health conditions, speak to your doctor before starting a vigorous routine or going through a fitness appraisal.
You'd like your workouts to start you where you are now and progressively build up your strength and fitness with injury prevention and long-term goals in mind. If you aren't experienced in how to structure your training, you might want to consider talking to a fitness professional with experience in military fitness.
In terms of training methods, you'd like to cover all the bases required for the CAF: cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, speed and stamina. We'd recommend including aerobic and anaerobic cardio sessions in your plan 3 to 5 times a week and strength training 2-3 times a week consistently for at least 8 weeks before attempting the fitness appraisal for basic training.
Joining the CAF can be one of the best experiences of your life. Preparing for what's coming during basic training and the FORCE Fitness Test well in advance is recommended so you can find it rewarding. If you have questions or want to discuss your current fitness level and your goals, feel free to get in touch!
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