Both are bad. That’s the bottom line. But there are different consequences for failing the APFT versus failing height/weight. This post is just my personal opinion so I’m not going to get into the legal details. I’ll simply discuss the consequences of each in a general sense and which one I believe is worse.
It’s actually a pretty easy answer. If you fail the APFT then you are probably not in the physical condition necessary to survive on the battle field. Forget that if you do not pass it within 90 days you could be chaptered out. If you’re not in the shape necessary to perform your job you become a liability for your battle buddies. And if you were to get hit, you’re significantly less likely to survive the injury. This is just all around bad news.
If you can pass the APFT but fail height/weight, it’s probably not that big a deal. Sure, you’ll get flagged, but you can stay on the Army Body Composition Program almost indefinitely. The only real requirement is that you show “satisfactory progress” every month, meaning at least a two pound weight loss or 1% reduction in body fat. When you do eventually come off the ABCP, you have to make sure you maintain the height/weight standard. If you go back onto the ABCP within 1 year of coming off, it’s pretty much an auto-chapter at that point.
Lastly, if you fail the APFT and height/weight, you’re on very dangerous ground. It’s much easier to just suck it up and do PT than to get yourself out of the hole. If you see yourself heading in this direction you’ve got to speak up and get some help.
So, in my opinion, you should never allow yourself to fail the APFT. Your body will change as you age, and that’s okay. You just have to learn how to fuel yourself properly to achieve your desired goals while still allowing for some room to enjoy life’s greatest moments. But never, ever fail the APFT.