Shortly before the United States entered World War II, the U.S. Army reinstituted the draft. Thanks to the selective service, many men entered the military who were not always prepared, physically, for this new endeavor. There were certain parameters set – such as minimum height, weight, and “circumference of chest” – but even those men who made it through were not necessarily ‘army strong.’
In 1942, the Army updated its requirements for both men and women, and developed a physical fitness regimen designed to prepare soldiers for the rigors of real-world combat. There are many anecdotal stories about the large numbers of new soldiers who lacked strength and stamina, and were woefully unprepared for army life; true or not, there were certainly some training needs, and new recruits enjoyed conditioning along with other equipment and weapons drills while in boot camp. Running, marching, strength training, and calisthenics were an important tool in preparing a soldier for war, and no doubt many young men did their best to follow similar routines at home before joining up to help the war effort. Let’s let a few World War II soldiers show us why these exercises were needed…
After the war, a new military training manual based on the war-time exercises was introduced, detailing the number and style of sit-ups, pull-ups, and other routines for a total of twelve conditioning drills. Though the military continued to update and enhance its physical training, the 1946 manual was recently ‘rediscovered’, providing fodder for plenty of “modern men have gone soft!” jokes in the media, and allowing a new generation of both military recruits and fitness fans to suffer… er, enjoy an old-school training regimen to get them into fighting shape.
Return to Fitness Fads Master Post