Top 3 Reasons for Doing PT Every Drill Weekend

Let’s face it, drill weekends are extremely busy. When deciding which fire to put out over the next, it is hard to prioritize PT (physical fitness) as one of the most important training events you can do. We have all heard the same tireless excuses, “We just don’t have the time to do PT…”, “We meant to do PT but other training came up…” and my favorite, “How much can we possibly get out of doing PT during a drill weekend?” I am sure that some forms of these excuses have been uttered by your Soldiers or even yourself. However, I challenge you to step up and make PT a regular habit every drill weekend.  Here’s why:

1. PT is a great assessment tool. As leaders, the physical readiness of our Soldiers is of the utmost importance and high on our list of responsibilities (especially if you are in the combat arms). As Part-Time Leaders, this becomes even more difficult as we do not have the ability to make our Soldiers do PT every day like our Active Duty brothers and sisters. So wouldn’t it be nice to realize that PFC Joseph is out of shape in April rather than in October when he fails his APFT? This is the primary reason I do PT every drill weekend as a PL. You are able to assess the physical readiness of your Soldiers each month and determine their strengths and weaknesses. It also gives you a little bit more control of their physical readiness as you are able to counsel your Soldier at the conclusion of drill.

pt during drill weekend
Three reasons to do PT during drill weekend every month.

2. Guard Soldiers have a reputation for being “big-boned”. The National Guard has transformed over the past decade or so from a the stereotypical “good ol’ boys who hung out at the armory” to being a critical part of the Army in its current wars. With that transformation has come the responsibility of maintaining that positive outlook on ourselves and within the Active Duty community. No better way to ensure that you are doing justice to your uniform and self than making sure it fits and you are in shape. Take some pride in your unit, your Soldiers and yourself by doing the right thing…doing PT.

3. PT is a Great Development Tool. Nothing seems to help Soldiers bond with their peers more than sharing a common grief. Ditto for some friendly competition. Believe it or not, PT is a great way to bring your Platoon, or even Battalion staff, closer together. Something about a group of men (or women) completing a 12-mile ruck or a 6-mile run together that makes them more eager to work together. Playing a game of ultimate football or basketball also brings Soldiers together. Even more importantly, PT is a great opportunity for young Soldiers or Junior NCOs to get up in front of their peers and Soldiers and lead. This little tasks helps build confidence, allows them to shake their fears of being in front of other Soldiers and helps prepare them to be a leader. Have them prepare the next PT Plan and Risk Assessment. I am sure you will be pleased.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Much like conducting maintenance, if you don’t reserve and schedule time for PT, it won’t happen. Your good sense will give way to those old excuses listed above. I challenge you to step up and ensure that PT becomes a habitual routine every IDT. Remember, PT doesn’t always have to seem like PT. Instead of loading up in the Stryker or LMTV, ruck out to your next training site (my Soldiers griped about it, but then admitted that it made them feel good and they felt a sense of pride as other Soldiers just drove by and saw them being Soldiers). Or, just play some type of sport. Bottom line, use PT as an opportunity to assess your Soldiers, keep them in shape and develop your team.

What are your thoughts? You can leave your comments below. Thanks.

8 thoughts on “Top 3 Reasons for Doing PT Every Drill Weekend”

  1. If you never do PT during drill weekend, it will be tough to convince your Soldiers that they should do PT on their own.

  2. It’s very important to do PT during drill weekend. Best of all, it doesn’t take very long. You can get a good workout in 30 minutes or less.

    1. I agree, Jane and I do not understand for the life of me why it always takes last priority. I am a firm believer that if it isn’t scheduled, it won’t happen. Just take that 30-45 minutes to add it and enforce it!

  3. To be honest I’m a bit surprised that at National Guard drill weekends PT isn’t mandatory already. If it isn’t, I believe it should be. PT is an integral part of training soldiers because it not only gets the soldiers in great physical condition but it also helps cohesion of the unit with exercises such as group runs and ruck marches.

    1. The points you make are true Chad. The reason most units don’t do physical fitness during drill weekend is because of their limited time schedule. They might have 16 hours to do what the Active Duty has 30 days to do. Between the briefings, meetings, classes, and training requirements, there isn’t a lot of time left over for physical fitness. It’s great when you can do it, but it normally doesn’t happen.

  4. Good points in the Final Thoughts there about what can constitute PT. It doesn’t necessarily mean the entire unit lined up in the grass with someone shouting “Extend to the left…”. We are the sole infantry unit in a cavalry squadron, and as a light reconnaissance unit we generally get to our designated zone on foot, unless we’re lucky enough to get helicopter support (and maybe you can guess how often that happens). That means foot road marches are a routine training event. Our squadron commander has also mandated some form of MWR event every drill, and for us that’s often some kind of team sport. Of course, as first sergeant I have also implemented a remedial PT program, so on Saturday evenings after the unit is released the APFT failures conduct a traditional PT session.

    1. Great input 1SG Slone. It is good to see that units and other leaders are beginning to bring back the importance of PT. I think when PT is extremely formal and seems like work, your Soldiers will be reluctant to do it. We are a Stryker unit (Mech. Infantry) and everyone loves driving around in their Strykers. But, it is MY Soldiers, the “fat tankers” of the MGS Platoon who are out there rucking around and doing PT. Sometimes that competitive spirit can make Soldiers look at themselves and say, “Damn, maybe I should be doing that…” Thanks for the feedback, 1SG!

  5. Justin,

    You make some great points here about doing PT during drill weekend. When I was a Company Commander, I never really made it a top priority. I guess I used one of the common excuses about there being so many other things to get done.

    After reading your article, I almost wish I would have scheduled some PT into the training schedule every month. It definitely would have been a nice change of pace and it would have helped some of my Soldiers some.

    Thanks for sharing this great post.


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