“S O C! SIBEI JIALAT!
IPPT! LAGI WORSE!”
Ah, just thinking about these lyrics invokes such bittersweet feelings of our army days. Arguably one of the more famous lines in one of the most famous army song sung by the boys of our nation, these lyrics talk about how taking the standard obstacle course, SOC, is an arduous task but yet is still second to taking the IPPT!
What is IPPT?
Now, for those of us who’re unaware, IPPT stands for Individualised Physical Proficiency Test. It is essentially the army boy version of NAPFA, an acronym we’re sure is more familiar to everybody else who hasn’t served NS! NAPFA stands for National Physical Fitness Award Scheme. Please do not ask us why the letters of the acronym do not match up to the first letter of every word; we have no idea why either! NAPFA is the physical fitness test that follows us on our academic journey in Singapore all the way through from primary school all the way up till JC/Polytechnic/ITE.
At this juncture, most girls can probably heave a sigh of relief! No more annual physical tests! Those things are dumb anyway; why run when we can just take public transport, amirite? For the boys, however…
Hi there, congratulations on hitting 18 years of age, here’s your enlistment letter! Please fill out your physical dimensions in this online form, submit yourself to a physical screening at CMPB, annnnddd WELCOME TO THE SAF! You are now a soldier, and you should have the level of fitness befitting one! Oh, you don’t? Not to worry, our Basic Military Training course will whip you into shape; quite literally.
During National Service (NS)
On top of undergoing gruelling training in the various aspects of modern warfare, us boys are going to be subjected to 2 more years of standardised fitness tests! Namely, the IPPT(Individualised Physical Proficiency Test)! Can we get a “Hoo-yah!”? Anyone?
Now, for the most part, the higher ups in your unit will play a role in ensuring that you meet a certain level of physical fitness through wonderfully structured (and not to mention mandatory) Physical Training sessions. Should you not perform up to standard, be prepared to face the full wrath of RTs (Remedial Trainings) on the weekends as well. And if that isn’t enough to whip you into some shape, then perhaps the numerous adventures into the vast wilderness(outfield stints) where you spend your days crawling up and down the jungle would! Or maybe the various fun runs (YAY SOC/VOC!) you have to clock while equipped with at least ten extra kilos of weight in the form of personal body armour, and a rifle would do the trick, we’re sure.
However, today we want to look at more than just the people with access to such meticulous training regimes designed for them to condition themselves physically. That’s right. Today, we want the spotlight to include the “ORD LOH!” Shouting, Pink-IC-on-forehead-Picture-posting, Longer (on average)-Coloured (optional but definitely present)-Hair men! That’s right. We’re talking about you, my good NSmen (not to be confused with the term NSF, National Service Full-time, a term used to describe our actively serving boys in green). Why are we doing this, you ask? Surprise surprise, because even after an NSF had ORD-ed and transitioned into an NSMen, he still has to take his IPPT every year!
Ah, just when you thought you could finally join the girls in saying, “Hey! I ORD already! I don’t have to deal with my sergeant/sir/SM/OC/Co telling me to go sign extra standardised physical tests on an annual basis anymore!”, reality smacks you in the face with the realisation that you are no longer a full civilian. Once you go soldier, you never go back! You are just a part-time civilian now. When war comes a knockin’, the NSMen goes a packin’, and he sure as heck better be in a physically able state to fight a war on behalf of his countrymen!
Still A Soldier
Alright, NSMen! A significant part of the responsibilities as soldier-turned-civilian is to ensure that your fitness level remains at the average level befitting a soldier, and not as merely a civilian.
To help facilitate this responsibility, NSMen have to book IPPT sessions online at ns.sg. Bookings are available at various camps(such as Maju FCC, Kranji FCC, Bedok FCC, and Khatib FCC) or SAFRAS(Jurong, Punggol, Tampines, Toa Payoh) in Singapore. Failing to pass your IPPT will result in you getting a lovely summon to your unit where you will be fined. Do note that if you chose to take your IPPT at a SAFRA, you would not be entitled to any reward beyond just a “pass”. You could check out the exact details by yourself over on mindef.gov.sg, but let’s be honest. You’re not going to do that, are you? This is precisely why this guide is here.
Another interesting, or should we say dreadful, thing to note is that if you fail your IPPT, even if you are an NSMen, it means that you have to go for remedial training. No questions asked. NSFs would most likely have it on their weekends or, if they’re lucky, have the RT sessions woven into their daily training regime. NSMen have it arguably more painful, for there will be a mandatory 20-session RT should they fail their IPPT that they have to book manually and attend after they end work.
Now that we’ve established that absolutely nobody wants to be caught failing the IPPT; let us (finally!) move on to the main event! Introducing Guidesify’s simple 5-step guide to help both NSF and NSMen deal with training for the IPPT!
Step 1: Know Thy Enemy (What is the IPPT all about?)
Well, the current IPPT system only has three stations: Push-ups, Sit-ups, and the one everyone who has been through the Singapore education system should be familiar with by now: The 2.4 KM run. Comparing this to the 5 stations + 1 run system of the past, our soldiers certainly have a lot fewer stations to deal with now. And we don’t have to clock the 2.4km run in 9min45sec to even qualify for gold anymore! All we need to do is hit 85-points for gold, 75 for silver, 61 for a pass with incentive (don’t get your hopes up NSFs, this doesn’t apply to you! For NSMen, REJOICE!). Don’t let this fool you, though. The IPPT is still quite the challenge!
I believe that it is for this reason that the government has upped the “prize money” for whatever you achieve:
|Gold(Commando, Guards, Divers)||≥90||$500(NSMen)|
Silver(Commando, Guards, Divers)
|Pass with incentive(NSMen only)/|
|Fail||Anything less than that||Remedial Training Sessions|
If you get a score of 51 at the minimum as an NSF, then congratulations because you’ve passed your IPPT (no more IPT or RT WOOHOO!)!
For the boys currently in active service, your monetary rewards are less than what the NSMen receive. Seems a shame, but you have to remember that NSMen do not have easy access to the same training as you do! Plus, you’ll become an NSMen in time to come and then you can reap all the money you want to your heart’s content!
Step 2: Recognise Your Limits (What do you think of your fitness level?)
As NSMen, you no longer have the luxury of PT sessions, field training, obstacle rundowns, etc. scattered throughout the week. It goes without saying that this does have an impact on your overall level of fitness if one were to assume minimal to no exercise habit. Whether you’re working part-time, or even traversing the world to fill up on all that wanderlust that you’ve missed out on the past two years; what this means is that your fitness level has taken a hit due to you not having the opportunity in the week to get in a good workout.
Recognise this, and know that you will have to schedule some time in between your working/schooling/travelling hours to fit in some exercises that will help you. Having at least an hour window on 2 or more separate days in the week should suffice! For a better experience, seek out a group of friends who share your motivations to work out together. To those who’ve only recently ORD-ed, you could still have time to register for a gym membership at SAFRA, EnergyOne Gym, at a special ORD price. Alternatively, ActiveSG allows us to purchase tickets for the public gyms located at most sports stadiums in Singapore; it is also something one can consider instead of signing up for a pricey private gym membership.
For the NSFs, you will have to balance your rest days/periods correctly. Sure the high-key periods will be physically intensive, but periods of lull always follows those. Rest assured, your training schedules are meticulously planned to include adequate periods of rest. However, do not allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security by the period of lull. By taking all of your training seriously and refraining from excessive pigging out on the weekends or offs, you will not only be healthier but also find yourself becoming fitter and more able to cope with the physically intensive responsibilities a soldier has to shoulder. Plus, you will also find yourself able to keep up with the fitness demands of the IPPT.
Step 3a: Exercise Smartly! (How do you effectively train for IPPT?)
Now it goes without saying that the average person will be tired after a full day of work. He will also likely not have access to an instructor yelling at him, “10 COUNTS OF 4 I CANNOT HEAR YOU 20 COUNTS OF 4!!!!”. Pushy as it may be, this does help you with pushing yourself to the limit and promoting your physical growth. So here’s the trick we’d like to share with all of you. Sometimes, things don’t have to be that complicated. You don’t need to have access to a state-of-the-art gym, equipped with all the latest facilities and a protein shake at the end of your work out. You don’t need to have a tanned, fit, knows-10-different-ways-you-can-train-your-biceps Fitness Instructor to teach you (although if you do want biceps like him, do check out his guide!) how to train for IPPT. Here is what you need to do :
1) Find a time, be it before work (huhhh must wake up so early?), after work (wah piang shag leh..), or on the weekends (Eh I whole week busy liao let me lepak on the weekends lah!), and just start training. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
2) Time yourself, and try to do as many push-ups as you’re comfortable within 60 seconds. Give yourself a nice, refreshing 5-minute break, plop yourself down and try to do as many sit-ups as you’re comfortable within 60 seconds. Once done, give yourself another 5-minutes and OFF YOU GO! Try to run at a steady pace for as long as you possibly can! Preferably for 12 minutes or more.
3) Form form form! Remember; the most important thing here is doing all of the above with perfect form. This standard differs between a serviceman and a servicewoman, so do refer to https://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/mindef_websites/atozlistings/army/microsites/afc/IPPT_mgt_system/ippt.html to keep yourself informed!
4) Try it again! If you can only do five perfect push-ups and five complete sit-ups, do not despair! The next time you train, try to hold yourself to the same form standards, only this time you give your total amount a +1! You’ll soon find yourself capable of doing a respectable number of perfect form repetitions in no time! Meanwhile, you should kick up your running pace a notch every session to see the same progress as your static stations.
5) These steps are the most basic of all to get you started. After all, practice makes perfect. For the fitter ones amongst us, you can try to put your spin to these exercises, such as doing them slowly, or by adding weights to your body. Glam and glitter aside, there is no better way to increase the number of pushups one can do other than just doing it every day.
As long as you keep yourself accountable to your schedule and persevere with your training, you’d see yourself improve. Alternatively, you could sign up for IPT(IPPT Preparatory Training) sessions via your Singpass, where your training will be guided by that tanned, fit, knows-10-different-ways-you-can-train-your-biceps Fitness Instructor. But if you’d like to go at your own pace and away from supervision? The above-prescribed method should be good enough for you!
Step 3b: Exercise Smartly! (How do you effectively train for IPPT as an NSF?)
NSFs, as your journey in NS goes by and you rank-up from being a mere recruit, you will find yourself with more and more time on your hands when you’re not doing #JustSoldierThings. Your PT sessions would also decrease in quantity as it is assumed that you would have been physically conditioned to the level appropriate for a soldier.
Instead of resting on your laurels and letting yourself go, why not engage in some nightly private PT sessions with your mates at the fitness corner by the company line? Maybe even go for a lovely night run when you feel like it? You could even use the same approach prescribed above and make it a challenge between you and your buddy, or help each other out by checking each other’s respective form while engaging in the exercise.
All these go a long way towards maintaining your level of fitness and will help you with your IPPT! Just remember to ask your sergeant for permission before embarking on any such personal training sessions, especially if you intend to run circuits around your camp, lest you end up in hot soup for being unaccountable when the company needs you.
Go ahead and make use of all the free pockets of time you may find as time passes. Remember: your health is your own, and so is the money you earn from IPPT! So make such opportunities count and take responsibility for yourself!
Still with us? Congratulations, you’re now two steps away from understanding how to nail the IPPT!
Step 4: Goal Setting (Garang mode or lepak mode?)
“No gold, no go!” They say, but should this be the case? To avoid going all philosopher-mode on you, we will deliver our thesis shortly and sweetly: Got money got health can liao!
So the NSMen can aim for 61 and above, while the NSFs should ideally be looking at hitting 75 points. For our commandos, guards, and diver NSmen/NSFs who’ve been reading all this while; please don’t feel left out! You can always adjust for vocational inflation and add five more points to the scores mentioned above to find out the minimum score you need to acquire the incentives!
For the high fliers amongst us, do go ahead and shoot for the stars! This is by no means a call for us to be satisfied with mediocrity, but to manage our goals realistically. Remember, the goal in life is to be healthy and happy and can you say that you’re satisfied with no money and with 10 IPT (IPPT Preparatory Training) sessions or RTs looming ominously overhead?
With that, let us examine the possible permutations available to the NSMen, operating under the assumption of a 25-year-old typical worker who works 9-5 and sits for the most part.
|Total Points||61||Pass(with incentive)|
For a pass with incentive without running too fast: Aim for a similar level of competence across all the stations! You will reduce the risk of over-relying on any single station which could fail you on the day itself. Remember; never put all your eggs in one basket! This increases the odds of you hitting that sweet, sweet 61 points if you are capable of holding your own in all 3 stations!
To achieve silver under the same conditions as a 25-year-old:
For the coveted gold award and the $500 incentive that comes with it:
For those of you who are out of the age group, you can apply the same technique too on this handy IPPT calculator http://ippt.yctay.com/?age=25&situpReps=31&pushupReps=31&runMins=13&runSecs=0 which even tells you what incentive you receive at the respective benchmarks! Remember to balance out the level across the stations and to make that your goal to hit when you are training for it!
NSFs, take heart! Even though the bulk of you may be younger and, according to the calculation scheme, will be required to outperform your older seniors physically to reach the same awards, it does not mean that it’s impossible to do it! Apply the same logic and try to be a jack-of-all-trades! It certainly is easier to score higher if you have an at least a competent level of fitness across all three stations than if you have abs of steel but the arms and legs of wet Kleenex!
Now let’s move on to the final step!
Step 5: Know Thyself! (Are you as fit as you think you are?)
As far as Sun Tzu quotes go, this is probably his most famous one, and for a good reason. It can be applied in just about every and any field you head to! A few of you intelligent ones might be asking, “isn’t this just a rehash of step 2?”. And you wouldn’t be wrong, technically. But there is a reason it must be brought up again as the last, concluding point, and that is because of how significant it is.
Always make sure you are in the clear for taking the IPPT before you go ahead and do so. While it is statistically unlikely and quite frankly unpredictable for a mysterious heart illness to take your life while you take the IPPT tragically, there are still other factors that would make you not have a good time in your test. Make sure that you have had sufficient rest, hydration, and adequate physical preparation.
Take the warm-up sessions with the friendly FTs(Fitness Trainers) seriously before you garang it up, lest you get overcome by heat exhaustion/physical exhaustion/cramps. Do not be the goon in the story “that day ah I go take IPPT that time horh got someone puke sia!”, . Take measures to protect yourself from becoming a statistic. Professional athletes get injured all the time despite having trained all their lives and in spite of all the professional care they receive. You are not an exception to this phenomenon.
Do acclimatise yourself to the IPPT sequence through the practice sessions you set for yourself. Don’t forget to play to your strengths. If you have industrial pistons for arms, for example, go ahead and do more push-ups but do not neglect the other stations because you think your push-ups can help cover your weakness! Getting more points is never a bad thing, and who knows maybe you could end up scoring better than you’d planned for! Work your way up, work yourself hard, but do not be reckless nor overconfident.
At best, you end up disappointing yourself when you fall short of your target. Don’t fret; there’s almost always another opportunity available! At worst? Morbid speculations aside, you could end up seriously injuring yourself and we know nobody wishes for that to happen to themselves!
So dear reader, as you can see, the IPPT is all about maintaining an overall level of fitness. Acing it does not rely on any one factor more than the other. Now that you are in the loop, it is time for you to go out there and get to training!
Do you know anyone who has trouble with IPPT? What about that one friend who has no clue what IPPT is? Share this with them to shed some light on the ins and outs of one of the many things the Sons of Singapore have to go through, and may the odds be ever in their favour when they go through it!
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