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New Army Combat Fitness Test

Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT)

The United States Army is scheduled to test out its new physical training tests (PT Test) called the  Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). The current PT test has been deemed outdated and unpractical by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) because it doesn’t reflect the type of fitness needed in combat. With this understanding, TRADOC has issued a new standard that will more accurately reflect the trials and tribulations the Army faces on the battlefield today.

Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT)

The current PT Test, also known as the APFT consists of 3 events, which are the push-up, sit-up, and a two-mile run. These events are designed to test each soldier’s anaerobic and aerobic fitness levels by setting standards for each event. This test has been shown to measure upper and lower body strength but does not measure a soldier’s ability to perform on the battlefield.  Through extensive research, the Army found the 3 basic exercises being used do not measure a soldier’s ability to conduct combat duties. For example, someone can do 100 push-ups in 2 minutes but are unable to carry a ruck, weapon, and radio into a battlefield. Nonetheless, below are the current standards for the U.S. Army pt test. Each active-duty soldier must score at least a 60 in each event to pass the test.

Push-Up Test

The push-up test will evaluate the endurance of your chest, shoulders, and triceps by doing as many push-ups as you can in 2 minutes. Each soldier will be given instructions and a demonstration on how to perform this test before they attempt it. The evaluator will explain to you that your feet must not be braced and you are not allowed to bounce your chest off the ground to assist you.  We have included a video from one of the most revolutionary PT’s in the world,  Dr. Kelly Starrett.  This video should clear up any issues you have with the push-up and give you the information you need to optimize your push-ups without injury.  The standards in the Army today are based on the age and gender of the soldier. For example, a 40-year-old soldier will have to do fewer push-ups than a 20-year-old soldier to achieve the same score. Also, a female soldier at 20 years old will be able to do fewer push-ups than a 20-year-old male and achieve the same score.  Take a look at this updated score sheet to get an idea of what the current standards are and see where you sit.

Rules of Push-up:

  • You must break 90 degrees on the way down for a push-up to count
  • Arms have to be fully extended at the top for the evaluator to see elbow crease
  • Not allowed to  cross your feet
  • No restarts after 10 push-ups
  • Must wear shoes or boots
  • You’re allowed to do push-ups on your fists
  • You’re allowed to be in the front leaning rest position to recover

 

Sit-Up Test

The sit-up event for the APFT is designed to measure the endurance of your abdominals, lower back, and hip-flexor muscles in a two-minute test. Sit-ups are an excellent way to measure a soldier’s core but does not transfer to actual movements a soldier will need for combat. As the Army moves toward functional fitness, sit-ups and push-ups will be replaced with movements designed to replicate battlefield movements. We included a video below for the best tips and tricks to safely perform this exercise and get the most out of it.

Rules of Sit-Ups:

  • Fingers must be interlocked behind your head
  • A soldier will hold your feet to the ground during your exercise, no other brace allowed
  • Your heels must remain in contact with the ground at all times.
  • Back of hands and shoulder blades must touch the ground
  • You must reach the vertical position for a rep to count
  • If you rest on the ground, your test is over

 

2-Mile Run Test

The 2-mile run is designed to measure your aerobic fitness and the endurance of your leg muscles. Each soldier is given a number to wear on their chest during the run for identification. Each runner is instructed to run at their own pace, and you’re allowed to walk if you need to recover. If a soldier is carried,  pushed, or pulled during their run to improve their score, the test will be terminated, and that runner will fail the test.

 

Current Army PT Test
Number of Events 3
Events Push-ups, sit-ups, 2-mile run done in this order
Time to Complete 2 Hours
Minimum Passing Score 180 total (60 each event)
Standard Grouping Based on Age and Gender

 

Functional Fitness

What is the best way to train your body? How can the Army prepare their soldiers for combat?  Is the APFT a good indicator of physical fitness for combat-related events? In the past 20 years, the Army has been trying to figure out the best and most efficient way to train their soldiers for combat. These questions above are the same questions they have to ask themselves as the physical standards of the Army remain stagnant. Functional Fitness is your ability to perform tasks that are used in real-life, such as bending over, jumping, climbing, pulling, and pushing.

The New Army PT Test

The New Army PT Test is based on the movements and activities soldiers will perform in combat scenarios across the globe. Although this new test isn’t supposed to go into effect until October 2020, many Army Brigades are trying to acclimate to the newest test and standards.  One way soldiers could get ready for this new test is to start working high-intensity exercises into your routines, this combat fitness deck is a fun way to do just that. The point of this test is to accurately reflect the movements made in combat while not actually performing those tasks. For example, it’s not realistic to run with weapons or climb a ladder with your gear at every location we have a base. Instead, the Army found a way to replicate combat movements in a testable and repeatable way. The ACFT has shown to be much more efficient in preparing soldiers for the movements they will make in the line of fire. There are 6 events described below to give you a better understanding of what the new test looks like. One thing we always recommend is to practice the test before the Army starts to roll it out. On your own, you can listen to music and get your mind right for the change coming your way.

Max Deadlift

The deadlift is performed using a hex-bar barbell, and each soldier is required to complete 3 reps at their “target weight,” which will be different for each soldier. Pay close attention to your form, as this movement can be very dangerous if done with poor form. I have included another video from Dr. Starrett to give you the tools you need to perform this task at your best ability. Remember, before you start your test, you need to stretch and know your limits, look through these fitness apps to see which one will help you the most.

 

 

Standing Power Throw

The Standing Power Throw is designed to measure your explosive power by throwing a 10 lb medicine ball backward as far as you can.  This event was chosen by the Army to replicate the power needed to help a teammate over an obstacle, such as a wall. This throw will engage both your upper and lower body and measure your explosiveness as a professional soldier.  Each soldier will get a chance to gain momentum by flexing and stretching his/her knees and hips before they throw the 3 official throws. The furthest throw from each soldier will be the final grade for this event.

 

Hand Release Push-Up

The Hand Release Push-Up will replace the standard push-up because the standard push up doesn’t indicate functional fitness. The Hand Release method is a 4-step method of a push-up that requires you to raise yourself up in one movement, lower yourself down to the ground, lift your hands off the ground so a clear distinction can be made, finally moving back up.

 

250 Meter Sprint/Drag/Carry Event

Have you ever wondered if you could carry one of your brothers or sisters off the battlefield if you had to? Well, this test is designed for just that with a 90 lb sled that must be dragged for a total of 50 meters (25 meters to one side). Each soldier will pick up 40 lb Kettlebells and carry them to one end and back without dropping them. Next, each soldier will test their agility by performing a lateral sprint to the end and back. These movements are specifically designed to test a soldier’s ability to move quickly under fire, carry a wounded or incapacitated soldier off of the battlefield, or carry ammo boxes to and from a location, such as a vehicle or defensive fighting position.

 

 

Leg Tuck

The Leg Tuck event will test each soldier’s grip, upper body strength, and core stability by simulating climbing a ladder, rope on a helicopter, or wall.  For most soldiers, this event will be the most difficult because you must remain in control of your body at all times. If you release the bar or land on your feet, the test is over, and your score will be calculated at the last completed rep.

 

2-Mile Run

The 2-mile run is the final event you’ll do for your PT test and is going to be much harder than your regular 2-mile run. With this being the last event, your arms, legs, abs, and back will all be smoked if you did your best and will most likely be more challenging than ever before. With the old test giving each soldier 2 hours to complete, the ACFT must be completed within 50 minutes. There will not be much rest time, and you’re going to feel it much more than any PT test you’ve taken.

Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT)
Number of Events 6
Events Max Deadlift, Standing Power Throw, Hand-Release Push-Ups, Sprint/Drag/Carry, Leg Tuck,  and 2-Mile Run
Time to Complete 50 minutes
Minimum Passing Score Based on job duties
Standard Grouping Based on job and unit ( Infantry will need higher scores than Medical soldiers)

Final Thoughts

Anyone who is physically fit and has served at any point in combat knows the current PT test is a joke and needs to be fixed. What the Army is doing here is listening to the research, following the recommendations of our nation’s elite soldiers, and taking accountability for a soldier’s heath and well-being. Regardless of how you feel about the Army, its always great to see the Army being proactive in finding a solution, even if it took 40 years to do so. Only time will tell if the ACFT is a suitable replacement, but if it’s good enough for Army Rangers,  it’s good enough for the Army.

 

 

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