Canadian Forces Fitness

Realistically, when looking at the fitness requirements to join the Canadian Forces, it’s really not that hard or difficult.

Before starting basic training, you should be able to:

  • run 5 km
  • run 2.4 km within an appropriate time (for me: 12:36 – 14:26)
  • complete push-ups  with a full range of motion and sit-ups
  • complete a hand-grip test
  • tread water for at least 2 minutes and swim 20 metres without a life jacket.

The only thing I can see myself having an issue with is push-ups. I’m not gonna lie, my upper body strength is crap. So that what I really need to work on the most. I know I can do the running and swimming/treading. Just those darn push ups!

So for anyone interested in getting fit, here’s some pointers that the Canadian Forces suggests:

When starting a workout session, take into consideration the frequency, intensity, time and type of activity and your goals – in other words, follow the FITT principle.  Here is a breakdown of FITT:

  • Frequency is a balance between exercising often enough to challenge your body and resting enough to allow your body to recover from the workout.
  • Intensity is measured using your heart rate during aerobic activity and workload during muscular strength training.  Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts to increase your overall endurance.
  • Time of your workout generally increases as you become more fit. However, if you exercise more than 60 minutes you may risk overtraining and injury.
  • Type refers to the kind of exercise you choose to achieve particular fitness goals: aerobic exercise for cardio fitness and resistance training for muscular strength.

As a rule of thumb, ease into your activities, gradually increase each element of FITT, and end each session with a cool-down. For example:

  • Begin with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up. Light walking, biking or a slow jog will increase blood flow to the muscles and lightly increase your heart rate. Follow up with some light stretching of the muscles you will be using in your workout.
  • Improving your overall fitness is most effectively done through a combination of 20-60 minutes of aerobic and strength exercises.
  • A 5- to 10-minute cool-down helps return your body to its normal, pre-exercise condition. Suddenly stopping an intense workout can make you dizzy, nauseous or even faint.  Walking, biking or a slow jog will gradually bring down your heart rate and relieve muscle soreness.
Muscular Strength Session

Frequency2-3 times per week. Use all major muscle groups.

IntensityThe appropriate weight is what you can lift the required number of times and not more.  The first set of exercises in a weight program is a warm-up set even though you have done a structured warm-up.

Time15-60 minutes.  Your workout sessions should last about 15 minutes for the first few weeks.  Gradually increase your time 2 to 3 minutes each week.  The frequency and duration should not be increased in the same week; increase them one at a time.

TypeResistance training can include both free weights and resistance machines.  Include push-ups, sit-ups and chin-ups in your program as they are major components of the EXPRES test and basic training.


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