Guys, are you finding that annual Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) a chore to pass? While the old five-station format has since given way to the simpler three-station system, there are still many who struggle with the 2.4km run and push-up stations.
It’s an annual rite for all NSmen in Singapore, so rather than running about in the dark, we got some tips from PTI Andy Chua from the SAF Army Fitness Centre on how to ace the test with proper training.
Regulars need to Run Smart
Regularly running long distances of 10km or more puts focus on your aerobic endurance (the ability to last for long distances).
However, the 2.4km run require both aerobic endurance and anaerobic endurance in order to run a good time. You will need to back off your long distance training and aim for short distance, fast paced training sessions with intervals thrown in. The upside is you actually spend less training time per session.
Beginners need to Start Slow
If you haven’t been training for a long time, you need to start by jogging at a comfortable pace, two to three times per week. The initial distance clocked should be short, no more than 2km each time.
There is no shortcut to fitness so if the IPPT is your end goal, you need to start at least 16 weeks before your IPPT test date.
Progressively overload your body by adding 1km per week to around 4km. This will build a basic aerobic endurance foundation for running. Remember to taper down by either reducing the distance, pace, or frequency of training per week to allow for rest and recovery. After you have stressed it, your body gets stronger during the recovery periods.
Add Strength Drills
Callisthenic exercises such as half squats, lunges, alternate leg thrust and calf raises can help strengthen the muscle groups involved in running.
Try incorporating these drills into your training sessions:
Knee lifts- Concentrate on straight spine and lift your thighs to about 90-degree angle to the ground. Moving forward and cover a distance of about 20m. This activates the hip flexors and enhances the flexibility in the hips and the ankles and overall promote good foot stride.
Butt kicks- Running forward, keep thighs locked in line with torso, and heel of foot touching your butt for each stride. This drill activates and strengthens the hamstrings as well as enhances flexibility in the knee.
Crossover- Jogging sideways on balls of your feet, bringing the left foot across the right foot and vice-versa for about 20m. This drill helps to strengthen the hip abductors (outsides of the thighs) and adductors (Inner thighs) as well as trunk rotators.
A good running posture, with an upright trunk and slight forward lean will enhance running economy.
This aims to reduce the energy cost of running. Avoid over-striding, that is to reach the leg too far out in front of the body and landing on the heel first. Instead, should land on the mid-foot and roll through to the front for toe off with the foot directly underneath the body.
Don’t flail your arms unnecessarily, and avoid bouncing up and down as you run. Put all your energy into forward propulsion.
Training for the Static Stations
Don’t forget about your sit-ups and push-ups! The strict protocol that the testers adhere to means that you must always ensure perfect form, especially at the push-up station. Train to hold your torso in a straight line with planks, and focus on perfecting each repetition before attempting to increase the rep count.
Go for Score
If you study the score charts, you’ll notice that the current testing system is designed so that as long as you do not fail any station outright, a passing score is entirely within reach.
This also means that you should train for your strengths. If for some reason you are a mediocre runner but can do push-ups and sit-ups for the whole day, train to ensure that you can reach the minimum passing mark for the 2.4km run with a comfortable buffer, then max out your sit-up or push-up scores.
That said, you might also notice that the scoring system is slightly biased towards running, and you can grab a big handful of points with a good 2.4km time.
Remember though, if you fail any one station outright, you fail the whole test. So it’s no good even if you can run a nine-minute 2.4km, but can complete only five push-ups.