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New IPPT test format draws flak, support

Some fitness experts say that NSmen may be more motivated to train now that the test is easier, while others say the new test format could result in a drop in fitness level.

SINGAPORE: The new Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) format has drawn support from some quarters, but also flak from some fitness experts.

Professor John Wang, a sport and exercise psychologist at the National Institute of Education (NIE) felt the shake-up to the format is the right move and that NSmen may be more motivated to train now that the test is easier to pass. NSmen will also maximise efforts to score under the new scoring system to compensate for their weaker stations and this extra effort will lead to fitness improvements, he said.

Fitness consultant Rick Wong, however, said the new IPPT could result in NSmen training specifically for one station and they might not necessarily be militarily fit. Mr Wong, who has two decades of experience in the health and fitness field, noted that Singapore has taken reference from the United States Army three-station fitness test but added that the US has a professional army.

“Obviously, (NSmen) fitness levels will not be comparable to that of a professional soldier who is training, doing drills every day,” he said.

And while one reason why the IPPT format was simplified was so NSmen can train for the IPPT on their own, without the need for “specialised equipment”, Mr Wong pointed out that pull-ups bars are readily available. “I think most NSmen live in HDB blocks and so on, there are parks and fitness corners which all have a chin-up bar,” he said.

However, Mr Oh Beng Soon, a former infantry commander, felt that removing the pull-up will not necessarily affect combat fitness. Noting that fitness experts had said pull-ups are crucial to the ability to scale walls or climb ropes, Mr Oh said technique and teamwork are used in performing these actions. He felt that by simplifying the test and making it simpler for NSmen to train, they will train harder and become fitter overall.

Dr Beryvn Lee, a member of the Army Fitness Advisory Board, who was also present at the interview with Chief of Army Perry Lim, conceded that the new IPPT is easier to pass, but stressed that doing well still requires training. When asked if the new test is compromising on fitness standards, Dr Lee said the answer will “come out in time”, and time is also needed for the new push-up station to develop its norms and standards.

Operationally Ready National Servicemen TODAY spoke to said the new IPPT will be easier to pass. Those who fail only pull-ups and standing broad jump will have a chance at passing through the three stations, said NSman Eugene Tay.

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