In October of 2019, the U.S. Army began implementation of their new Combat Fitness Test, and by October of this year, it will become the Army’s fitness test of record. This new test places a larger emphasis on the types of physical challenges a soldier may face in combat, and will have minimum requirements based on your military occupational specialty. The entire fitness test must be completed within 50 minutes, which adds to the difficulty due to the limited amount of time soldiers will have to recover between events.
What events are in the Army’s new Combat Fitness Test?
Soldiers will complete the following events in order:
- 3-Repetition Maximum Deadlift
- Standing Power Throw
- Hand-Release Push-Up
- Leg Tuck
- 2-Mile Run
To watch videos breaking down the execution of each event, check out our piece on how to pass the Army’s new fitness test.
What are the minimum requirements for the Army’s new Combat Fitness Test?
This new fitness test places a large emphasis on being a well rounded athlete, and as such, the drills are designed to be challenging in terms of strength and endurance. As the Army puts it, “This test punishes the specialist and rewards Soldiers that have strength and stamina.”
While minimum requirements will vary depending on the soldier’s military occupational specialty, the bare minimum requirements as laid out by the U.S. Army are as follows:
Deadlift 140lbs for 3 repetitions
Standing power throw a 10lbs ball 4.5 meters
Execute 10 hand-release push-ups
Complete the sprint-drag-carry in 3 minutes
Do 1 leg tuck
Run 2 miles in less than 21:00
All right, now that we understand what the test includes and what the bare minimum requirements are, we can develop a workout regimen tailored specifically to excelling at the new Army Combat Fitness Test.
In order to do so, we’ll approach each of the six events separately, identify the types of strengths you need to develop for each, and then use that to inform a list of exercises you can do that will directly affect your performance in the ACFT.
Exercises that Will Help You Master the ACFT
3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift
Deadlifts are an excellent gauge of a person’s full body strength, as the exercise engages a person’s lower body, upper body, and core. Most people don’t realize, however, that it’s also a good gauge of flexibility and balance. In order to effectively train for deadlifts, you’ll need to work on those important facets of your fitness game alongside muscular strength.
Alternate Staggered Squat Jump
Standing Power Throw
The Standing Power Throw is intended to be a gauge of a soldier’s explosive power, but like the deadlift, it also requires a fair amount of balance and flexibility. Training for the Standing Power Throw should be explosive, just like the event. Exercise caution when training for this event, however, as it can be easy to sacrifice form as you get tired, and utilizing poor form in these exercises can lead to injury.
Overhead Push Press
Hand Release Push Ups
Traditional push ups have long been seen as a measure of a person’s strength and endurance, and Hand Release Pushups bring that concept to the next level. Each repetition isn’t particularly strenuous in its own right, but after a few hand release push ups, you’ll begin to miss the old kind for sure. Because soldiers will be tasked with completing as many repetitions as possible in two minutes, your training focus for this event should be on muscular endurance.
Supine Chest Press
8-Count Push Ups
Incline Bench Press
The Sprint-Drag-Carry event is a measure of a soldier’s muscular and cardiovascular strength and endurance. Soldiers will be expected to cover distances quickly while unencumbered and while carrying or dragging heavy loads. In order to effectively prepare for this event, soldiers need to focus on strengthening their core and legs, as well as improving their speed and conditioning.
Straight Leg Deadlift
Bent Over Row
300 Meter Shuttle Run
The Leg Tuck is a measure of a soldier’s upper body and core strength, and many soldiers have found this to be the most challenging event in the new Army Combat Fitness Test. Unlike many other events in the ACFT, the Leg Tuck emphasizes upper body strength as well as core strength. As such, upper body and core training are essential to be successful in this event.
Bent Leg Raise
Leg Tuck and Twist
Alternating Grip Pull Ups
Two Mile Run
The Two Mile Run may be the most straightforward portion of the new Army Combat Fitness Test, but that doesn’t make it any less challenging. Not only will soldiers be expected to quickly traverse the 2-mile course, but they’ll also be fighting against muscular fatigue from the previous tests. As such, it’s important to train for aerobic endurance all year round, so you don’t find yourself gassed when it comes time for the run.
There’s no way around beating the pavement when it comes to preparing for the two mile run. Treadmills and elliptical machines are good ways to work on your aerobic endurance, but aren’t always as effective at preparing your body for the high-impact stresses that tend to come with this sort of running.
Feature photo courtesy of Mark C. Olsen, New Jersey National Guard