Combat fitness is a form of exercise that is derived from military training programs, most notably the United States Marines. The program focuses on both aerobic and strength training with minimal specialized equipment and no need for a set exercise location. Combat fitness revolves around four core tenets: "train like an athlete," "strive for a harder core," "take pride in exercise technique" and "don't allow for any weak spots." In the Marines, combat conditioning is tested using a Combat Fitness Test.
In 2003, after seeing a significant increase in the number of non-combat injuries, the Marines decided to update their training methods, using the latest exercise-science studies and techniques. It soon was copied by other military programs around the world and in the private sector. Combat conditioning quickly became a popular method for achieving all-around conditioning.
The four tenets of combat conditioning focus on making combat workouts effective, engaging and simple. The first tenet, "train like an athlete," focuses on power exercises that both strengthen and build impact resistance in order to prevent injuries. The second tenet, "strive for a harder core," eliminates excess weight from the middle and builds stamina. "Take pride in exercise technique" is the third tenet, and it involves focusing on exercises that improve posture and body alignment in order to prevent injury and maximize workout effectiveness. The final tenet, "do not allow for any weak spots," emphasizes a balanced conditioning in strength, stamina, speed and agility.
Combat conditioning rapidly grew in popularity because of it comparative effectiveness versus older conditioning techniques. After spreading throughout the world to elite military programs, combat fitness exploded in the private sector. Numerous fitness gurus, military veterans and martial art instructors each developed their own brand of combat conditioning. Despite numerous philosophical differences, these various versions of combat fitness regimens share a focus on the four tenets of combat conditioning and stress the unimportance of specialized training equipment.
Despite all of the exercise science behind combat fitness, the Marines would not be satisfied with the conditioning if it did not yield quantitative results. In order to do this, the Combat Fitness Test was developed. The Combat Fitness Test has three events that measure a soldier's endurance, strength, agility and speed. It begins with a "Movement to Contact" run of 880 yards in military boots and pants followed by a two-minute drill that awards points for the number of times a 30-pound weight can be lifted over head. The final event of the Combat Fitness Test is "Movement Under Fire," which simulates various combat conditions.