RMC Physical Performance Test: Pushing the limits

Christmas Break: No time to grow fat

As part of their athletic component Cadets are required to pass two out of three RMC Physical Performance Tests (RMC PPT) a year.  Undoubtedly, it is easy to grow complacent during the Christmas break and let physical training fall by the wayside: eating mom’s turkey and stuffing, lounging on a beach down south with a Piña Colada, or even just watching too much TV, all contribute to an enlarged waistline.  The military life requires constant dedication, and while Cadets may be on break for over three weeks, this should not be an excuse to stop exercising.  As such, the RMC PPT is administered shortly after the beginning of the New Year.  Those who worked out during the break are rewarded with high scores.  Those who didn’t huff and puff and may find themselves having to work out extra hard on the Supplementary Physical Training Program.

For the last week or so, Cadets at RMC have been busy running through the Winter PPT.  So far, things are looking good! In general, results have been positive: some have had difficulty meeting the standard but the vast majority of Cadets performed well and passed the Test. Cadets who failed will be given the chance to redeem themselves, shed those “Christmas Calories”, and try again at the retest in a couple of weeks.


RMC Physical Performance Test: Pushing the limits

Strength and endurance could mean the difference between success and failure in a military operation. For this reason, Canadian Forces (CF) personnel must be more physically fit than the general Canadian population.

This is an irrefutable truth of life in the Canadian Forces.  Even more so amongst the officer corps: as a leader, the officer not only has to deal with the physicality of any given situation, but must also be able to think ahead and plan in real time often under great stress and duress.  As such, simply being “fit enough” to pass the Canadian Forces Express Test just doesn’t cut the mustard.

The Royal Military Colleges have recognized the need to train officers who not only think on their feet, but do so even when subjected to intense physical exertion: it is difficult to think when you have to focus on your breathing.  Through an intense physical education program the Colleges give cadets the tools needed to develop and further their physical fitness.  As part of this process Officer Cadets are evaluated three times a year through the RMC Physical Performance Test.  This allows Cadets to objectively monitor their level of physical fitness and keep track of their progress throughout the year.  In addition, the Test allows staff to monitor Cadet performance and help those Cadets having some difficulties while recognizing the efforts of those who excel.

Cadets who have trouble passing the Test are placed on Supplementary Physical Training: under the guidance of a special Coordinator, they go through a structured physical training regimen designed to improve their physical fitness, improve their self-confidence, and give them further knowledge related to physical fitness such as exercise techniques and proper nutrition.  On the other hand, Cadets who show elite performance are recognized through an incentive program and are given special recognition: they can wear the Crossed Bats and Crown Award and the top Cadets receive a special t-shirt to be worn while exercising.

The Test is administered three times a year, and Cadets must pass the test at least twice in order to achieve the athletic pillar for that year.  Re-tests are administered and some exemptions may be given for medical reasons, but Cadets who show little improvement and fail to meet the minimum requirement are deemed to have failed the athletic component at RMC.

The Test Itself

The test includes five components: 20 meter shuttle run (20MSR), push-ups, agility run, sit-ups, and standing long jump.  Each component is monitored according to stringent guidelines and Cadets are assigned a score commensurate with their performance.  Each item is scored on 100 points, for a maximum total of 500 for the entire Test.  Cadets must achieve a minimum score of 250 to pass.  However, each component has a minimum score: failure of any component results in a failure for the entire test even if the total score exceeds 250.

20 meter shuttle run:

Cadets must run from one line to another (20m) following a sound cadence. At each sound signal, they must touch the line, pivot and start proceeding to the other side. The cadence accelerates each minute, and each minute represents a “level”. The minimum level which must be reached is 9.5 for men (84 laps) and 7.5 for women (64 laps).


Cadets must complete full push-ups according to protocol.  Cadets failing to complete satisfactory push-ups are given the chance to correct their posture or technique, but only the satisfactory push-ups are counted.  The push-ups must be continuous: any break or pause and the test is terminated.  The minimum level to be reached is 28 push-ups for men and 14 for women.

Agility Run:

From the prone position, Cadets must sprint on either side of a line of 4 chairs, touch or cross the 9m line with any part of their body, pivot and return to the start line. From there, they will run back to the 9m line weaving around the chairs and weave back to the start line. They must then sprint on the other side of the chairs to the 9m line and back to the start line. This is a timed event, and Cadets are disqualified if they touch the chairs. The minimum standard for men is 17.8 seconds and women is 19.4 seconds.


Assisted by a partner who holds their feet on the ground, Cadets must complete full sit-ups according to established protocol.  They are given 2 minutes to complete a maximum number of sit-ups.  Incomplete or unsatisfactory sit-ups are not counted.  The minimum number required for both men and women is 35.

Standing Long Jump:

From the standing position, Cadets have to jump as far as possible while maintaining control: moving the feet after landing will result in disqualification.  The minimum standard for men is 195 cm, and the minimum standard for women is 146 cm.



  • 12944 Andre Durand

    January 20, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Aucun doute dans mon esprit sur la pertinence de 3 tests de conditionnement physique par année. Je suis aussi en accord complet sur l’éducation de nos futurs chefs quant à la pertinence de développer des habitudes d’entraînement saines et continuelles.

    Lors de mon séjour au collège, nous étions évalués en début d’année scolaire, à la fin de l’automne, avant les examens et à la fin de la deuxième session, encore une fois, avant les examens. Habituellement nos résultats s’amlioraient en cours d’année pour obtenir un haut pointage à la fin de l’année scolaire. Chose certaine, nous pouvions nous détendre lors des vacances de Noël, à rien faire et sans avoir en arrière pensée un test de conditionnement physique à l’arrivée des vacances.C’est le temps de profiter des bons plats de maman et récupérer sur notre manque de sommeil. Je met en doute la pertinence et la valeur rajoutée d’avoir un test de conditionnement physique en arrivant des vacances de Noël au lieu de l’administrer avant les examens d’automne.

  • 16078 Darin Cowan

    January 20, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    A question I have always had is why the standards are so markedly different for men and women. It seems to me that a soldier must be able to do, for example, N push-ups. It shouldn’t matter whether the soldier is male or female. Similarly, a soldier should be able to run from point A to point B in a certain amount if time. It shouldn’t matter whether a man or woman is doing the running, all that should be relevant is that a soldier is doing it. A soldier should have to demonstrate a measurable amount of agility, but that amount should not be determined on the basis of gender. If a soldier needs a certain amount of upper body strength (as measured by push-ups) then it shouldn’t matter whether the person doing the push-ups is male or female.

    In battle, enemy fire does not care whether or not its target is male or female. The CF should consider taking a job-based approach to fitness standards that accurately reflects the requirements of the work and sets the standards required to do that work effectively without regard to gender.

  • don gates

    January 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Hi Bill:

    Any way we can get suggested limits (or precautions) for these RMC Physical Performance Test “Standards” from the staff for interested aging ex-cadets, say at the Masters (over 50?) Senior (a mere 55+ in California) or just plain “Golden” at 60, 65, 70 and above? Presuming medical approvals of course!

    Ties in with the Christmas Turkey comment in the article (after a few weeks! – what about a few decades?), as well as cardiac fitness, stamina and power expectations based on boomeritis. Generally, a 10% decrease in muscle performance for each decade can be expected (theoretically, the absolute pits by retirement age). Ironically, however, it might just be offset by a non-linear increase in baseline net worth.

    Dr. Don

  • 8092 Ken Benoit

    December 14, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Hi Bill and Don:

    Don, good to hear that you are still involved in keeping fit. Still golfing out there in California while we are shoveling our driveways!

    Don, that test is so easy that many of our year could go out there and pass it inspite of all our sports injuries and the fact that we have been drinking chlorinated and flouridated water all these years! Note: For those that don’t know Don Gates is one of the world’s foremost experts on water quality.