The Physical Program

The Physical Program prepares cadets for the demanding requirements of an Army officer.

The Physical Program

The Physical Program prepares cadets for the demanding requirements of an Army officer.

Developing Warrior Leaders of Character

The Physical Program is part of the 47-month West Point educational experience. It begins on Reception Day when a new cadet enters Cadet Basic Training and ends on Graduation Day when the cadet is commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. 

The Physical Program is designed to challenge cadets to develop and maintain optimal levels of physical strength, endurance, mobility, agility, speed, power, balance, and coordination and to prepare them to become leaders of character who are physically fit, resilient, and prepared to lead soldiers.

Every Cadet is an Athlete

West Point’s competitive sports program is unique in the Nation. The values-based program is an integral part of West Point’s curriculum. Competitive sports provide a “higher purpose” that challenges cadets to reach their potential.

Physical Program Curriculum

PE109 is a 38-lesson course that is designed for cadets classified as non-swimmers. The first phase of the course is a remedial swimming exploration curriculum designed to prepare cadets classified as non-swimmers for the survival swimming curriculum. The remedial phase is designed to help cadets acquire in-water experiences, and gradually refine the basic motor skills needed to be comfortable, safe, and effective in and around the aquatic environment. Phase two emphasizes the military applications of swimming and survival skills to include the elements of breath control, buoyancy positions, stroke assessment, and swimming endurance. Successful completion fulfills the survival swimming graduation requirement for selected cadets.

A course in which the offensive and defensive skills of amateur boxing are taught. Course content includes stances, movement, basic punches (i.e. jab, cross, hook, and upper cut), defenses, strategies, and tactics. Instruction on refereeing, judging, and serving as a corner second are presented. Boxers are evaluated, assessed and provided feedback on their ability to box. The course exposes participants to the coping strategies necessary to deal with a physical threat.

This is a 19-lesson course designed to expose cadets to a variety of basic movement skills. 

The course serves as a basis for many other athletic and military activities that cadets will encounter during their time at USMA as well as in their Army career. Focus is placed on applied movement tasks for all cadets. 

This course takes a basic movement theme approach, meaning cadets are required to learn a variety of relevant skills from within the general themes of rolling, hanging, climbing, crawling, jumping, vaulting, landing, mounting, supporting, and swinging. 

In addition, the environment (or apparatus) where a skill is performed is changed or modified to challenge the cadet and broaden the movement experience. Movement environments are designed around specific events such as tumbling, vaulting, vertical ropes, horizontal ropes, the indoor obstacle course (IOCT), horizontal bars, elephant vault, ankles to the bar (ATB), pull-ups, rock climbing, and trampoline.

This course provides cadets with the knowledge and experience to develop a personal fitness plan that links to the Army doctrinal approach to physical readiness. Cadets will participate in a variety of active learning experiences designed to develop, monitor, maintain, and assess physical fitness for their future Army careers and lifetime of physical activity.

The Lifetime Physical Activities Program is designed to develop a foundation of skills, knowledge, and personal attributes, which will enable cadets to successfully participate in lifetime physical activities, provide motivation for continued improvement, and establish a pattern of physical activity for a lifetime.

Aerobic FitnessBadminton / Pickleball
Basketball Cycling
Combat GrapplingEmergency Water Safety
Modern Army Combatives Olympic Weightlifting
RacquetballRock Climbing
TennisStrength Development

The Survival Swimming Program is a 19-lesson required course offering, designed to develop theatre-specific survival swimming proficiency. Offered as part of five different progressive delivery systems BASED ON ENTRY LEVEL ABILITY (PE109: Fundamentals of Aquatics, PE320: Survival Swimming - Elementary, PE321: Survival Swimming - Low - Intermediate, PE322: Survival Swimming - High, PE323: Survival Swimming - Advanced); the course syllabus is divided into two curriculum tracks: basic stroke development and combat survival swimming.  Emphasis is universally focused on elements of conditional acclimatization (both flat water and surf), breath control, basic locomotion, buoyancy positions, stroke instruction/refinement, and the development of sound “real world” analysis and decision making when faced with operational water survival implications.

PE109 satisfies this requirement.

This course provides cadets with a comprehensive set of basic combatives skills suited for a combat scenario. Cadets will learn to respond appropriately to aggression by utilizing proper body mechanics, skills, aggressiveness, and fear management. Two combat ranges of hand-to-hand fighting are taught: 1) Grappling range - cadets learn to fight and win on the ground and, 2) Clinch range - cadets learn to close the distance and control the fight between themselves and an attacker. Cadets will be evaluated on their ability to perform selected combative skills and their capacity to exhibit the warrior ethos and fear management. 

This course prepares future company-grade officers for their roles as fitness leaders by equipping them with the knowledge to plan, implement and assess periodized unit physical readiness training programs. Students will apply the training principles learned in order to create specific programs eliciting physical adaptations necessary to meet the physical requirements of their units.

Physical Testing

The Indoor Obstacle Course Test is administered to the third, second, and first classes. Passing the second class IOCT is a graduation requirement. Cadets who fail to meet the minimum performance standard of 3:30 (men) or 5:29 (women) become deficient in the Physical Program until they remediate a failure. To facilitate a successful outcome for cadets, DPE offers multiple record IOCTs throughout the academic year (AY).

To further encourage cadets to engage the IOCT at the highest level of performance, anyone may retest the IOCT for grade replacement. Cadets are permitted to retake the IOCT for improvement during any subsequent scheduled test. Only the highest grade earned during each academic year will be used to compute the PPSC.

The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is a physical fitness assessment with age and gender-normed scoring. The test consists of six events and provides an evaluation of preparedness for the physical demands of military service.

Over the six weeks of Cadet Basic Training (CBT), new cadets will perform the ACFT twice. 

  • A 3-event ACFT, consisting of hand-release push-ups, plank, and a 2-mile run, occurs during the second week of CBT.  This abbreviated test is used as a diagnostic tool to measure a baseline of muscular and cardiovascular endurance.
  • At week six, new cadets will take the full, 6-event ACFT.  The full test will demonstrate improvements made through summer training and is used as the first official physical fitness test for the record.
Department of Physical Education

The Department of Physical Education's (DPE) mission is to develop warrior leaders of character who are physically fit and mentally tough by engaging cadets in activities that promote and enhance physical excellence.