The Army recently updated its Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) to better evaluate if a soldier is physically combat-ready.
Physical fitness is critical in the Army.
First, physical fitness has obvious physical benefits.
Also, fitness has psychological benefits, including reducing stress, illness, and the chances of injuries.
Plus, fitness is necessary, so soldiers are prepared for their mission.
The Army created a new combat-focused physical fitness test that tests five domains of physical fitness.
These domains include muscular strength, power, cardiorespiratory endurance, and speed/agility.
There are six events to the Army Combat Fitness Test, which we will look at in detail.
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ACFT: What Changed and Why?
Before the change to the ACFT, the Army had used the same fitness test since the 1980s.
The new Army Combat Fitness Test has a design capable of providing a better assessment of a soldier’s capability to perform while in combat.
The fitness test is very rigorous, strengthening and conditioning soldiers in a way that represents the movements one will need in combat.
To top it off, the test is both age-and gender-neutral.
Six Different Events for ACFT
There are six different events for the Army Combat Fitness Test.
Each event has an expectation and a proper technique.
- Maximum Deadlift
- Standing Power Throw
- Hand Release Pushups
- Leg Tuck
- Two-Mile Run
Event #1: Maximum Deadlift (MDL)
The deadlift shows a soldier’s ability to lift heavy items such as carrying a casualty or carrying heavy equipment.
How to Perform
With the deadlift, you would step inside the trap bar and place your feet shoulder-width apart.
Bending at the knees and hips, you grab the handles with your arms extended, your back flat, and your head in line with your spine.
When told to, you will stand and lift the bar by straightening legs and hips.
However, your back must stay straight.
Also, you must perform this movement three times with the same weight.
This video will give you visual support of how this should look:
You earn 60 points for 140 pounds and 100 points for 340 pounds.
If you worry your fitness level needs some work to be successful at the deadlift, some exercises can help get your ready.
Consider starting with alternating squat jumps.
Also, when you are ready to add weights, you can perform forward lunges with kettlebells.
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Event #2: Standing Power Throw (SPT)
The Standing Power Throw demonstrates a soldier’s ability to use explosive power when handling equipment of other people.
For instance, if you must throw equipment or jump across an obstacle, you need explosive power.
How to Perform
To perform this movement for the ACFT, you will hold a 10-pound medicine ball and throw it up and behind you.
You can flex the trunk of your body as well as your knees and hips when lowering the ball.
For a visual of what this should look like, you can see this video:
You earn 60 points for 4.5 meters and 100 points at 12.5 meters.
Two of your attempts are recorded; however, the longest of the two is your score.
You can prepare for this part of the fitness test by practicing a power jump without weights.
Also, the tuck jump helps develop explosive power.
Furthermore, the overhead push press using kettlebells for weights helps develop the upper body strength you will need to be successful with the Power Throw.
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Event #3: Hand Release Pushups (HRP)
This event tests the upper body strength and endurance that shows a solider can perform repetitive tasks in combat.
These repetitive tasks include pushing objects or people out of your way and getting up and down from the ground quickly.
How to Perform
You will lay prone with hands flat on the ground.
Also, your index finger should be just inside the edges of your shoulders.
Furthermore, your chest and hips and thighs are on the ground at this point, as well.
Feet are together, and your ankles flexed.
When told to, you will push your body up in a smooth motion by straightening your arms.
Your goal is to keep your body in a straight line from head to ankles.
The second part of this movement is to bend your elbows to lower yourself back to the ground, so your chest and hips reach the ground at the same time.
For the third movement, you will briefly move your arms out straight to the sides to create a T-shape.
After, you return to the starting position with hands under your shoulders.
This video gives you a demonstration of what the Army expects with this movement.
This is a timed event, so you need to complete as many as you can while maintaining good posture for two minutes.
You earn 60 points for 10 repetitions and 100 points for 60 repetitions.
If you struggle with the pushup portion of the ACFT, you can begin to prepare by using an incline bench with a barbell and by including chest presses with dumbbells.
Also, begin doing as many pushups as you can until you reach your goal.
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Event #4: Sprint/Drag/Carry (SDC)
This event tests your capacity to complete intensive tasks during combat, such as reacting quickly when necessary, carrying casualties, or carrying ammunition, just to name a few.
How to Perform
You begin in a prone position, and when you hear the command, you stand and sprint for 25 meters and then come back.
Next, you grab a handle of a weighted sled, and you pull the sled backward for 25 meters before turning and pulling it back to the start line.
The next move in this event is the performance of a lateral from the start line to the 25-meter line and back again.
A lateral is a quick side shuffle movement.
The next movement in this exercise is the carry.
The solder will take the two 40-pound kettlebells from the start line and run the 25-meters and back again.
You earn 60 points for managing to complete the SDC in three minutes and 100 points for 1:33 minutes.
This event requires the use of many muscle groups, so your training should, as well.
Also, many of the work you do to prepare yourself for other events lend to preparation for the SDC.
Deadlifts and bent over rows are essential for the SDC.
Also, shuttle runs with increasing distances are helpful.
Event #5: Leg Tuck
The leg tuck shows a soldier’s strength in their shoulders, arms, as well as the trunk of the body.
When these muscles are strong, there is less likelihood of injury when climbing walls and other obstacles.
How to Perform
You will first grab the bar in a straight arm hang, with the feet off the ground.
Your grip must be alternating so that you will have your dominant hand close to your head with the other hand just behind that hand.
On the command, you will flex the elbows, knees, waist, and hips to lift the knees, so they touch your elbows.
You cannot swing to use momentum to perform this movement.
This video demonstrates the proper technique for the Leg Tuck.
You will earn 60 points for one repetition and 100 points for 20 repetitions.
Core strength is vital for the Leg Tuck.
To best prepare for the Leg Tuck, add bent leg raises and leg tuck and twist movements to your routine.
Also, pull-ups will strengthen your grip.
Event #6: Two-Mile Run
The two-mile run is a standard on a fitness test, and it is one event that carried over from the old test.
The run measures aerobic endurance, which is needed for physically challenging tasks while in combat.
How to Perform
The run can occur either inside or on an outside track.
However, it cannot be held on rough terrain.
If you complete the run in 21 minutes, you earn 60 points.
Also, 100 points are awarded to those who run two miles in 13:30 minutes.
Getting prepared for the two-mile run requires taking the time to build up to having the endurance for sustained running.
To avoid injuries, be sure your running program works in gradual increments.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is the ACFT harder than the APFT?
Technically speaking, yes.
In the past, the APFT would simply test how many push ups and sit ups you can do, followed by a 2-mile run.
The ACFT is much more involved, and is a big improvement over the archaic design of the APFT.
By design, the ACFT involves much more physical work, especially in your core and leg strength areas.
This is critical to determining the fitness level of future Army soldiers, both from a physical aspect, as well as a mental one.
When will the ACFT replace the APFT?
Beginning on October 1, 2020, the ACFT will replace the APFT as the primary physical fitness test for the US Army.
The final APFT test will be conducted on September 30, 2020.
Will the ACFT be based on MOS?
Yes. The standards will be set at 3 levels:
1. Gold: Moderate MOS physical demands.
2. Grey: Significant MOS physical demands
3. Black: Heavy MOS physical demands
In order to successfully graduate from Basic Combat Training (BCT), Advanced Individual Training (AIT), Basic Officer and Warrant Officer Basic Leadership courses, and One Station Unit training, you will need to achieve a standard of Gold.
The Army revamped its fitness test to include movements a soldier needs to make in combat.
All of the events require the use of multiple muscle groups at one time.
There are six events for the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) including the deadlift, standing power throw, pushups, the sprint/drag/carry, leg tucks, and running.
Each event is scored individually, and there are ways to prepare for the fitness test to ensure success and to avoid injuries.