FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Combat readiness remains the Army chief of staff's No. 1 priority and Fort Rucker's upcoming Tactical Throwdown aims to help Soldiers focus on the training necessary to succeed.

The fourth quarter Tactical Throwdown, conducted Dec. 4-8 and billed as a tactical movement challenge, will require both strength and cardiovascular exertion, according to Zea Urbiztondo, fitness program specialist and challenge organizer.

"This particular challenge has three elements to it for successful completion," Urbiztondo said. "First, it will consist of a trap bar deadlift at 100 percent of their bodyweight for eight repetitions. Next, they will do a weighted relay with a sled on the turf -- moving weights on to the sled, ending with a sled rope pull, removal of the weights from the sled and then a sled sprint. The final element consists of two laps around the blue indoor track while carrying a weighted sandbag. The participant's time to complete all parts of the challenge is their official score."

According to Urbiztondo, the challenge may also help prepare Soldiers for the Army's possible new fitness standards, currently being tested at select installations.

"Many Soldiers have approached me asking for ways to prepare for the new Combat Readiness Test that the Army will be implementing," she said. "A few of the portions of the test are very similar to this quarter's challenge -- the deadlift and the sprint, drag and carry. I believe that this Tactical Movement Challenge will give the participants an idea of what conditions to expect when it comes time to perform the new Combat Readiness Test.

"One of the biggest points that I try to stress to Soldiers is that they are athletes and need to train as such," she added. "As tactical athletes, it is not only important to be strong, but also to be able to move under the weight of gear and equipment. They must train for muscular strength, power and endurance -- focusing on flexibility and the ability to change direction quickly."

This quarter's throwdown challenges the participants on all aspects of athleticism, Urbiztondo said.

"Strength -- are they able to lift weight equal to their own bodyweight multiple times," she said. "Power -- how quickly are they able to move equipment of varying weights, while changing directions and methods of transportation? Endurance -- can they run distances under the weight of gear and equipment?"

The fourth quarter Tactical Throwdown will be the final challenge of 2017. However, the event will return in 2018 with new challenges for each quarter, according to Urbiztondo.

"Soldiers can sign up by calling the Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Center front desk and leaving a message to schedule a time to 'score out' or they can contact me directly via email," Urbiztondo said. "Each challenge attempt must be conducted and verified by the Functional Fitness Specialist or a designated scorer in order to qualify."

"The challenges are not overly complex, but each one is meant to tax you in some way," she added. "Those who incorporate functional movements into their fitness programs will benefit best because of the multi-linear, multi-planar movements the challenges embrace."

Repeat participants should expect to be increasingly challenged in future Tactical Throwdown competitions, Urbiztondo added.

"I wanted these challenges to get progressively more difficult throughout the year, culminating in a final 'throwdown' that will include a lot of elements of tactical and functional fitness," she said. "I chose movements and exercises that build in intensity, as well as exercises that should be fundamental for them as tactical athletes, but will still challenge their fitness capabilities by testing their muscular strength, power and stamina.

"Competition is always a good way to push yourself because it forces you to have to go to that mindset when you start hitting a wall," she added. "It gives them something to train for. By having a goal to work toward, you are able to push your abilities and really see what you are made of."

Urbiztondo added that these challenges factor into the Performance Triad by giving participants fitness goals to work toward.

"In order to be ready and in the right state of mind to perform well, you need to ensure you take care of your body at all times -- not just in the gym," she said.

According to Urbiztondo, winners of each challenge will be highlighted in the Fort Rucker PFC on an engraved plaque along with additional certificates and awards.

For more information, call 255-2997.