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Fitness Testing: The Navy Body Composition Assessment (BCA)

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Fitness testing in the military is a standard and required practice for all branches of service. The Navy requires a Body Composition Assessment (BCA) and Physical Readiness Test (PRT) as part of their Navy Physical Fitness Assessment that is required twice a year for all reserves, active duty sailors and potential recruits. These numbers that are fairly standard for a healthy, semi-athletic individual can be used in your fitness routine to determine your level of physical fitness as well.

Body Composition Assessment

The BCA test uses a weight chart to determine each person's maximum weight for their height and estimate their body fat. The initial screening for the assessment relies on the numbers of a weight chart to determine whether or not they are considered to be of a healthy weight, or overweight. If a sailor or recruit does not pass this initial screening based on their weight and height alone, further measurements such as circumference measurements and body fat measurements are used. Because muscle weighs more than fat, in some cases people that have a lot of muscle or other contributing factors will exceed the chart's maximum number, but will still pass the assessment after taking a body fat screening.

Physical Readiness Test

Once a sailor passes the Body Composition Assessment, they are then required to take part in the Physical Readiness Test to ensure that they will be ready for a physically demanding position if they are called to active duty. This test is meant to measure a person's overall strength and fitness level, and can easily be used at home to determine if your fitness is in line with the fitness of the Navy's sailors.

Consisting of four areas to complete, to pass the test you have to complete a sit and reach, curl ups, push ups and your choice of a 1.5 mile run or walk or a 500 yard swim. Each of the areas must be completed with a break of no less than 2 minutes, and no greater than 15 minutes between each event.

To perform a sit and reach, you simply sit with your feet stretched out in front of you and reach out and hold your toes for at least one second without bouncing or lunging. Next you do curl-ups, or crunches as they are more commonly called. To perform a proper Navy curl up you will need a partner to hold your feet and will lie flat on your back with your heels positioned about 10 inches from your buttocks and your arms folded across your chest. You must curl up reaching your arms to your thighs without losing contact with your chest. On the way down, your shoulder blades must touch the ground. You do as many of these as possible for a 2 minute duration.

Following curl-ups, you do a sequence of 2 minutes of push ups. You must keep your body aligned and parallel to the floor throughout all of the push ups for them to count. Finally, you have your choice of one timed event, either a 1.5 mile run/walk or a 500 yard swim.

Scoring Your PRT

The test is scored based on your gender and age. Complete the test yourself and look online to see if your ability is in line with what is required to be in the Navy. This test is any easy way to determine your fitness ability and give you some good feedback on how your current fitness routine is working.

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