Physical Demands

The physical demands rating is a simple rating system developed to tell us how physically hard or easy it is to do our job in combat. It gives the relative physical work requirements of a soldier to perform their MOS when under fire. The Army created a physical demands analysis that assesses our physical work requirements (in detail) for every entry level MOS.

The physical strength capacity test should be performed under combat conditions. It is designed to assign soldiers to jobs for which they are physically qualified. The objective of the analysis is to provide gender-free screening of soldiers, even though there are still combat MOSs that are not open to women.


Chapter 9 of DA PAM 611-21 identifies FIVE PHYSICAL DEMANDS CATEGORIES:

  • Light
Lift on an occasional basis a maximum of 20 pounds with frequent or constant lifting of 10 pounds.
  • Medium
Lift on an occasional basis a maximum of 50 pounds with frequent or constant lifting of 25 pounds.
  • Moderately Heavy
Lift on an occasional basis a maximum of 80 pounds with frequent or constant lifting of 40 pounds.
  • Heavy
Lift on an occasional basis a maximum of 100 pounds with frequent or constant lifting of 50 pounds.
  • Very Heavy
Lift on an occasional basis over 100 pounds with frequent or constant lifting in excess of 50 pounds.


My first army MOS was a 68J, Aircraft Armament /Missile Systems repairer. Here is an example of some of the demands of an entry-level armament dawg:

1. Frequently lift/lower and carry 80 pounds.

2. Frequently lift/lower 250 pounds up/down 5 feet and carry varying distances as part of a 3 soldier team (prorated at 83.2 pounds per soldier).

3. Frequently lift/lower and carry 490 pounds as part of a 4 soldier team (prorated at 122.5 pounds per soldier).

4. Must possess finger dexterity.

5. Must possess normal color vision.


The Physical Demands rating was VERY HEAVY – and they weren’t kidding! We loaded munitions and missiles on the AH-1 Cobra helicopter. A 750 round box of 20 millimeter rounds is a 4-person lift! As you can see, not all of the requirements include how strong you are. If you can’t tell a blue rocket from a green one, you might need to pick another job!

This information was obtained from:
Department of the Army Pamphlet 611-21 – Military Occupational Classification and Structure
You can find it at USAPA.

Considering Joining? Know Before You Go!


Physical Profile Serial System

The physical profile serial (known as PULHES) identifies the broad physical demands of an MOS and the physical ability required to perform the duties required by the MOS. This is a quick way to determine if a soldier qualifies for an MOS based on his physical abilities.

The physical profile serial PULHES classifies physical abilities in terms of six factors designated as follows:

  • P—Physical Capacity or Stamina
  • U—Upper Extremities
  • L—Lower Extremities
  • H—Hearing and Ears
  • E—Eyes
  • S—Psychiatric.

Once you’ve completed an Army physical, each of your PULHES factors are assigned a numeric value of 1 to 4, 1 being the best. Ideally, you’ll pass your physical with flying colors and your PULHES will read 111111. Now, let’s break that down a little more:

The P is Physical capacity or Stamina. It’s the first number in the profile series – It covers any issues pertaining to your internal organs, your muscular strength, energy, coordination, and similar factors. Your teeth and central nervous system are also covered here, along with heart and lungs.

The U covers Upper extremities (2nd number) This one deals with your upper arms, shoulders, and upper back. It is also evaluating strength, range of motion, and efficiency. If you had a shoulder injury or surgery, you might receive a 2 or 3 in this category, depending on how it affected your ability to move.

The L is for Lower extremities (Number 3) It evaluates strength, range of movement, and efficiency of your feet, legs, lower back and even your pelvic girdle.

Your Hearing and Ears are the H (and 4th number). It tests the sensitivity of your ears and the possibility of any organic diseases.

The 5th number covers E – Eyes. Visual acuity and organic disease of the eyes and lids are tested. This test can get quite in-depth if you are submitting a flight packet. Aviators need good eyesight, but there are waivers available!

S – Psychiatric is the last number in the profile series. This covers your mental health (i.e. stress, symptoms of mental illness or impairment, any past psychiatric problems, etc.)

For an even more detailed breakdown, go here:

As stated earlier, a physical profile designation of “1” under all factors is considered to possess a high level of medical fitness. (111111 – way to go, champ!)

A “2” under any or all factors may indicate that you have a medical condition or physical defect that could possibly limit your activity or ability to perform a task required by a specific MOS.
(Example – a 111121 might mean that you have less than 20/20 vision).

A “3” signifies that you’ve got one or more medical conditions or physical defects that may significantly limit you from performing a task. In some cases, if you are applying for military service, this can mean disqualification. If you’re already in the service, the Army should attempt to provide you with assignments commensurate with your capability for military duty.
(No, a frostbite injury doesn’t mean they’re sending you to Hawaii.)

A “4” means you are dead. Just kidding. It actually indicates that your medical conditions or physical defects are so severe that your duties must be drastically limited. It is definitely a disqualifier for both entering the military, and for continued military service.