UPDATE: Recent news that future IPPT to be reduced to 3 stations: 2.4km run, push-ups, sit-ups. Personally I think that’s bullshit, the tests keeps getting easier and our servicemen getting laxed. Nonetheless here my IPPT for bodybuilders guide, the routine which helped in my IPPT journey.
The Individual Physical Proficiency Test is a standard fitness test that every Singaporean male must undertake as they enroll for the national service. This conscription is part of Singaporean law, obliging every male over the age of 18 to have their fitness levels and motor skills tested to ascertain that they are ready for service.
The conscription lasts for two years, where after they become NSmen or reservists for another 10 year short term cycle. During this time, their fitness level is tested to ascertain that they have a good level of fitness.
The Individual Physical Proficiency Test or IPPT
The test is comprised of five stations – sit-up, chin-up, standing broad jump, a shuttle run and a 2.4km run. These are calibrated depending on the age group. Basically, age and vocation are considered. Minimum grades must be obtained in each station, and the cumulative points must reach a certain number before the test is deemed passed.
IPPT for Bodybuilders
The test does not discriminate based on apparent level of fitness. While you obviously stand at an advantage when you make an effort to stay fit, this is not considered when the test is conducted. So what happens if you are a bodybuilder?
Bodybuilders, both recreational and professional are an incredibly assertive bunch. They give a lot of regard to their muscle gains, and do all that is within their power to ensure that no lean muscle mass is lost. For most of the IPPT, the challenge is anywhere from mild to minimal for anyone who visits the weight room often. Being fit predisposes you to doing better. However, there are two stations that raise concern.
The 2.4km run is akin to cardio. Cardio prefers the lean- the ectomorphs whose muscles are undemanding in terms of oxygen and nutrients. That is why they are able to perform long distance races particularly well because their bodies can handle these stresses. A bodybuilder, on the other hand, has to find a way to address these demands while still preserving their muscle mass.
Cardio is a critical part of bodybuilding and fitness. Even the most avid bodybuilders are encouraged to take it up for the cardiovascular benefits it lends. If you have not been indulging, but still need to perform well in the race without sacrificing your muscle mass, there is a way.
High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a form of cardio where short bursts of an intense exercise are followed by a slowed down routine of the same. The two are carried out in intervals, typically lasting a minute for the burst, and 30 seconds for the slow down for about 20 minutes on average. HIIT can be done using any cardio equipment, but it often works best with sprints.
HIIT not only aids in fat loss, it also helps build cardiovascular endurance, which should serve your end goal of passing the IPPT. It is better than low intensity cardio, because the latter encourages catabolism. If HIIT performed a couple of days a week, for a couple of weeks preceding the fitness test, the chances of doing well in the 2.4km run are vastly improved.
I chose HIIT to train for my 2.4km station as someone who is into bodybuilding, we want to preserve our muscle mass. Compared to a normal jog, there’s less opportunity for our body to lay waste our muscle as a source of fuel. Keep your HIIT, short, intense and simple. Also HIIT has similar recuperating aspect of an intense gym workout, so don’t do this before or after a leg day session.
I would usually increase the frequency of my HIIT session as my IPPT test date approaches, and I would taper a week before.
Standing board jump & Shuttle-Run stations
As for the standing board jump, the best preparation is to ensure you have the lower body strength to surmount the challenge. This means doing explosive jumps, box jumps and barbell squat jumps to improve both your muscular and neural responses. These exercises will work to preserve your lean muscle mass, while still helping you improve your performance. You don’t need to load heavy weights, get your form right and progress from there.
This exercise in part also help on your starts for the shuttle-run. Do running drills to improve the running mechanics of your shuttle run. Down slope running, or over-speed training will help in gaining more speed. This exercise is high impact bearing, so take care of your shin.
Any upper body exercise done in the gym would cover this aspect of the IPPT station. But I’ve seen guys who can bench heavy but can’t do a single pullup, which is weird. So I would recommend doing the pullups itself. I myself would do weighted lats pull up, with different grip variations, underhand, overgrip, closegrip, wide on the various lats day. Doing both calisthenic and resistance pullups would give strength and size to my back.
Do add core exercises to your abs routine such as planks and exercise ball training with medicine ball for added difficulty. You might be surprised it’s actually the core aspect of your body that will help you attain a strong middle area, not thousands of crunches.
You do not have to frown at the idea of IPPT when you are a bodybuilder. If anything, you should see it as an opportunity to validate all the hard work you put in. With the tips offered herein, you can earn that IPPT badge without any muscle loss.
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