At 5 a.m. on the Army's largest training base, soldiers grunt through the kinds of stretches, body twists and bent-leg raises that might be seen in an "ab blaster" class at a suburban gym.
Adapting to battlefield experience in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army is revamping its basic training regimen for the first time in three decades by nixing five-mile runs and bayonet drills in favor of zigzag sprints and honing core muscles.
Trainers hope the switch will better prepare soldiers physically for the pace of combat, with its sudden dashes and rolling gun battles. They also want to toughen recruits who are often more familiar with Facebook than fistfights.
The exercises are part of the first major overhaul in Army basic fitness training since men and women began training together in 1980, said Frank Palhoska, head of the Army's Fitness School at Fort Jackson, which has worked several years on overhauling the service's fitness regime.
The new plan is being expanded this month at the Army's four other basic training installations - Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Fort Sill, Okla., Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Knox, Ky.