If you want to join the ADF, you’ll first be required to meet the PFA test requirements. Without that, your aims of joining the Australian Defence Force will remain unfulfilled. Applicants often fall into the trap of doing nothing else in their training sessions but doing sit-ups and push-ups like there was no tomorrow. Want to find out why that may not be enough to get enrolled? Read on.
Simply doing push ups and sit ups, while valuable in their own right, will only get you so far. True, if you keep practicing your push-ups and sit-ups, you will eventually get better at them, provided you don't injure yourself first. Shoulder and other injuries are quite common when we keep pushing through pain and weakness without proper recovery until our joints or muscles can't cope anymore. This applies to any exercise: if you feel you can't perform it with proper form, it means you need to figure out where you lack strength and start working on it.
Not to mention that for a successful PFA test you not only need to perform those exercise with the expected form for repetitions, you also need to show you are fit, have stamina, endurance and speed.
Why Push Ups and Sit Ups Aren’t Enough on Their Own
Physical strength and endurance are key parts of what’s required when you’re looking to enter the ADF and pass the requisite tests. If all you’re planning on doing is some push ups and sit ups and maybe practising for the beep test, you’re going to find yourself under-prepared and likely unable to meet the requirements for enlistment.
Instead, you’ll need to focus on a range of strength movements that help you achieve peak physical condition and prepare your body for the demands of basic training by getting as strong, fit and fast as you can. It means going beyond push ups and sits ups if you’re serious about your career in the Forces.
Tactical Strength and Conditioning
this may not be mentioned in many training guides before you actually pass your physical fitness test. If you’re aiming to make it through the recruit training camp and advance in your career, understanding the concept of tactical strength and conditioning is an important step. Becoming a tactical athlete is what all aspiring soldiers should be aiming for. It’s about maximising performance and effectiveness by preparing your body in the right way.
Of course, this will also help you pass the PFA test requirements. Using strength and rehabilitative movements in training becomes part of the process and aids significantly improved performance. These include recovery, transitions, the base phase, tactical training and ends with deployment in real world scenarios.
What Are Compound Exercises?
We have discussed big lifts in previous blog posts and by no accident. When you would like to become strong as King Kong, I mean gain full body strength and not only in certain areas, you can only achieve that via the compound lifts. These exercises produce greater results in less time by working multiple muscle groups at the same time. Progressive overload is key, especially if you are new and don't have much experience.
While isolation exercises are designed to target very specific, smaller areas or even one specific muscle, full body movements will involve more than one big muscle group. You can do as few as 8 compound exercises and still manage to exercise all of your body’s major muscles. Not to mention if your goal is to lose weight in the process, contracting more muscles will result in more energy burnt. Let's look at what these movements are.
Compound Lifts to Include
Your lower legs, quads, ankles and knees are all out through their paces when you do squats. There are so many variations that I could write a full article just about squats. Choose the version that suits your current strength, flexibility, mobility and fitness levels. If you are not confident in how to correctly perform a squat or not sure how to decide which variation to include in your program, hiring an in person or an online coach can be your best career decision at this stage.
Remember, know your limits, start gradually and work towards the point at which you’re able to complete full, deep squats for repetitions.
Loaded carry is a great exercise to prepare you for recruit camp, but it's also the best full body exercise that will help you improve your grip, core and arm strength as well as your stamina.
Weight plates, trap bars or dumbbells can be used if you are in a gym, at home if you have them available, or at The Barracks Gym you will find the fabled Jerry can you can take for several walks. Choosing the right load here is also imperative. So don't jump on the can until you can perform the exercise with lighter weights. As you get stronger, you must go heavier for progress though. Don’t be afraid of choosing something heavy to carry because the weights are what make the exercise effective.
Push and Pull-Ups
Pull-ups are important for improving your overall core strength, posture and body control. You use your entire upper body when you’re pulling yourself up, and your arms get a vital work out too of course.
Push-ups allow you to focus on your chest, triceps, shoulders and of course your core strength. It needs to engage throughout the movement and work hard to keep your body straight when you are performing them with the correct form. As you see, the push-ups are an important element, but I hope by now you start o understand it's only one piece of the puzzle.
Hip hinges work your muscles throughout the posterior chain. This means your glutes, hamstrings, back and lats will be tested as you perform the movement. Deadlifts and its all variations, kettlebell swings ad plyo jumps are performed correctly when you focus on the hip hinge part of the move strengthening your butt this way too.
Lunges mostly involve your so-called anterior chain and are classed within knee-focused leg exercises. You can do them in all directions and they become the best ways to keep the muscles around your hips in check, plus your balance and coordination will be improved if you perform them regularly.
Now that you have a greater understanding of why you need to go beyond the exercises outlined by the Australian Defence Force's Physical Fitness Assessment, all that’s left to do is take action. If you follow the guidance outlined here, you’ll have a greater chance of passing the PFA at the first attempt. The main thing to remember is that you need to put in the work and don’t aim for shortcuts or easy answers because they don’t exist.
If you need pointers on where to start, check out our Resources section. Feel free to get in touch if you have further question on any of the above.
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