Working towards perfection

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chad Padgett
  • 436th AW Public Affairs
Running a mile and half, measuring the waist, sit ups and push ups. Every Air Force member has done the Physical Training fitness test at least once in their career.

Only a few are able to score a perfect 100 on the test.

"For me the keys are consistency and balance," said Capt. Nate Vogel, 3rd Airlift Squadron who recently scored 100 on his test. "I find that if I focus on those 2 things (consistency and balance), everything else falls into place."

One of the first steps of being healthy is having a healthy diet. To lose one pound of weight, the average person needs to burn off 3,500 calories.

"When I started working out, I rationalized that since I was exercising, I could eat anything I wanted. After all, I was burning calories," said Col. Eric Wydra, 436th Airlift Wing vice commander. "After not losing any weight, I discovered that wasn't true. I then dumped the junk food and immediately saw results. I went from 190 pounds to 165 pounds in about three months -- just by having a decent diet and exercising. That's not to say I completely gave up junk food, I love a good pizza. I just moderated my consumption and in most cases, substituted something nutritious in its place such as fruit instead of cake for dessert."

Exercise and diet is not only important for scoring well on the PT test, but is also important for the day-to-day operation of the Air Force.

"Exercise and diet is important for Team Dover members because we have to stay combat ready," said Airman 1st Class Mark Freeman, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "We can't afford to be out of shape due to the fact that work on Dover AFB never ceases to stop with all of the cargo that has to be moved, aircraft that have to be maintained, parts that must be fixed, etc. Our exercise and diet affects our mission readiness and the mission itself."

Many of those who scored 100 on the PT test recommended working out with others.

"I find it better to work out with others because you can get the motivation to keep working out from the people around you, so you are less likely to stop in the middle of it," said Airman Freeman. "Also, you can motivate others to keep pressing on as well."

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends being active every day for at least 30 minutes.

"I work out 5 or so days per week consistently so I only have to slightly modify my workouts the month prior to my fitness test to maximize the score," said Captain Vogel. "And when I say work out, I'm not talking about spending 3 hours at the gym, my workouts take at most an hour. I'll usually just knock out some push-ups, crunches and then run 4 - 6 miles."

While working out everyday can lead to a better PT score, many of those who scored well also recommended not doing the same work out every day.

"I prefer to change things up when possible because I have learned that the body can get used to the same routine over time," said Airman Freeman. "For example, I'll work on my legs and back one day, arms and abs the next, and shoulders and chest on the last day."
One important tip given to those working out is to know their limits.

"If you are in poor shape, there is no quick cure or magic pill," said Colonel Wydra. "If there was, we'd all have six pack abs and run four minute miles. What it takes to improve your score is to make it a priority to work out and stick with it over the long run. That, along with a healthy diet, is a sure fire guarantee to improve your PT score. Get with the folks at the Health and Wellness Center and they can work with you to see what works best."