BY LEE JIAN XUAN, Straits Times

WHILE most national servicemen welcomed changes to the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) that make it easier to train for, many echoed concerns of fitness experts that the new test will not reflect if soldiers are wholly ready for combat.

The new IPPT format will comprise three stations – push-ups, sit-ups and the 2.4km run – and is similar to those used by other militaries, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen wrote in a Facebook post yesterday.

Netizens on his Facebook page had mixed reactions to the changes, with some questioning if the new test would be too easy.

The removal of three other stations also raised concerns among some fitness experts.

Director of Genesis gym Jonathan Wong, who conducts IPPT training, told The Straits Times that while the new test was “significantly easier”, it might undermine combat fitness standards.

“Some of these items like the chin-up train our soldiers’ combat fitness. You need that upper body strength to pull yourself up a rope or a wall, or the speed and agility in shuttle run to run from cover to cover,” he said.

Training for the standing broad jump, which is the hardest item, also improves strength, flexibility and endurance, he added.

Fitness consultant Rick Wong, 44, felt the new test was a response to popular demand and a “watering down” of standards.

He noted that the change in the scoring format to let soldiers combine points earned from the stations, could lead to “lopsided and imbalanced” fitness levels.

“We might get soldiers who lack upper body strength but are good at cardio,” said Mr Wong.

Operationally ready serviceman Lee Song Lim, 25, also saw some shortcomings in the new format. “It’s good for NSmen and working adults but I feel that it doesn’t test the whole body,” he said.

But for others like project engineer Andrew Goh, 27, who has needed remedial training to get through the IPPT, passing will now be less onerous.

“If there are only two other stations, I think I have a real shot at passing if I train hard for the run,” he said.

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