The strict enforcement of fitness requirements in the Army has cast a spotlight on its fitness test, which some soldiers say unfairly labels strong, capable soldiers as unfit. The two-pronged test involves a physical endurance portion during which troops must do sit-ups, push-ups and a brief run. The second phase is a height and weight measurement. The criteria for both vary depending on age.It isnt just fat ones, apparently.
Some soldiers who are muscular are astonished to fail the height-weight standard. The first time he took the test, Staff Sgt. Ammiel Banayat was surprised to find that he was over the limit. He is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs just more than 160 pounds. To override the standard, he was subjected to a body-fat index test that takes into account tape measurements of the neck and waistlines.
interesting bit from the WaPo —> a bodybuilder has a higher BMI than many overweight people, but is much fitter
A number of years ago, while I was in the Air Force....they went to the tape-method. For me, I was returning from the first Gulf War and on day two of the return to the US....they wanted to tape me. So they weighed me (I was seven pounds under my max)...but I was an inch over my tape-point, so I failed. Kind of a miserable way to introduce a guy to the program, but that’s the way they did it.
Eight years pass and I’m working in a new office. We have a young guy...22 years old...sports-nut....who is 12 pounds under his max. He fails the tape. He spends the next month losing five pounds...he’s still an inch over the tape-allowance. He spends a second month losing four pounds...still half an inch over the tape. Third month...he’s losing interest in this game and loses no weight. The leadership gets angry about this ‘attitude’. He’s sitting twenty pounds under his max. He just smiles at them and says do anything you want...he had five months left in the military and had a $90k job offered to him and this weight game had cut him the wrong way.
The tape business works good in the lab but it’s not a practical method of figuring how a guy should look. I’d say at best...it’s sixty percent accurate. It breeds the thin-look. If a thin-guy can fill three hundred sand-bags in a day...great...but I know that will never happen.
This is pretty common. I don't know where the Army gets its height/weight standards, but I ALWAYS get taped. According to the Army's numbers, I'm about 40 pounds overweight. Then I get taped, and I'm well within the body fat standards. It's more of an annoyance than anything else; I've been doing it since my junior year of college.
We're doing the same thing in the navy with the same results. Some guys who are obviously in great shape fail the "rope and choke" while other guys who are clearly obese yet blessed with fat necks pass the taping. It also depends on who's doing the taping. Sometimes the tape is cinched tightly around the neck, other times sailors scrunch their head down and the tape is held loose resulting in drastically different measurements. Taping is far from scientific yet careers are being ended (or retained) due to this practice.