LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, ARIZONA — It’s a controversial topic that has been brought up by many Airmen — changing the abdominal circumference standards on the Air Force fitness assessment test.
After months of debate, it was decided by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III that the standards will stay the same.
For one Luke Air Force Base first sergeant, Welsh’s decision to keep the current abdominal circumference standards was a wise decision.
“Concerning the decision made by General Welsh, like he said in the article, he’s not a very small guy and he has to abide by the same standards that everybody else does,” said Master Sgt. Carmina Beedle, 56th Fighter Wing staff agencies first sergeant. “I know he didn’t go into that decision blindly. He did his research and consulted with people to come to that choice.”
Although it’s expected for Airmen to comply with Air Force abdominal circumference standards, those with possible medical conditions should see their doctor before their test.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable for an individual not to pass the waist measurement,” Beedle said. “For some, it’s justified. It could be a medical condition preventing them from passing. These individuals should get medically evaluated to be exempt from the abdominal circumference portion of the test, if necessary.”
For Airmen who fail the waist measurement portion of the fitness assessment test, there is a way they can pass the PT test.
“If an Airman fails the abdominal circumference component of the fitness assessment, then fails to comply with Air Force standards, he fails the test,” said Senior Airman Philemon Sehne, 56th Force Support Squadron fitness assessment cell monitor. “However, there is one exception to this rule, if an Airman scores 75 out of 80 points on the rest of the test, then they are eligible to have their body fat percentage measured. If they pass that screening, they’ll pass the overall test.”
To date, no one at Luke who has failed the abdominal circumference has been able to score high enough to qualify for the body fat percentage measurement.
There are many ways one can prepare for the abdominal circumference portion of the fitness assessment test.
For those who feel they are borderline in the abdominal circumference or other components of the test, Master Sgt. Vikram Sachan, 56th Force Support Squadron fitness assessment cell manager, recommends first finding out what your waist measurement is.
“If you know or feel that you will fail the abdominal circumference portion of the test, have your unit’s PTL measure your waist as soon as possible to allow for sufficient time to reduce your waist size,” Sachan said. “Some ways you can go about this is taking nutritional classes available at Health Promotions, which used to be referred to as the Health and Wellness Center, working out or getting involved in some kind of physical activity. Your success is also dependent on the amount of effort you put into your health and fitness goals.”
Sachan recommends finding a running mentor if it’s the cardio portion of the test one struggles with.
“What will help you on the run is learning from those who run well,” Sachan said. “A lot of people I test do not run correctly. Just learning the right way to run will decrease your run time. There’s more to running than most think — the way you breathe, move your legs, land your feet and how you carry your hands will play a great role in your performance.”
In addition, Sachan advises running at least three times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes.
For the two strength components of the fitness assessment, practice is key.
“For pushups, I advise people to ensure they are doing them properly and breaking 90 degrees,” Sachan said. “The best thing is to do them at least three times per week. For sit-ups, I recommend doing them after cardio so muscles are loose and warmed up. If you’re not sure how to perform the exercises, talk to the unit PTL.”
Staying fit should be a personal goal.
“It’s good to stay in shape for yourself,” Beedle said. “Ensuring you’re in shape for the Air Force fitness assessment test is one thing but for your own health down the road, it’s beneficial to stay in shape now.”