I have been in the Army for 17 years, and we are finally on the verge of having a new PT test: The Army Combat Fitness Test - ACFT. I took the new test a couple of weeks ago and absolutely loved it.
The current version of our fitness test - the APFT - consists of 2-minutes of push-ups, 2-minutes of sit-ups and a 2-mile run. The APFT provides AN indicator of fitness, but certainly not a holistic assessment of fitness like the new ACFT does.
Each event is scored on a 100 point scale - just like the old APFT.
The new ACFT assesses Soldiers across a broader athletic spectrum and includes a strength component. The new test consists of the following:
Trap bar dead lift: 3 reps. Max weight (scale tops out at 340 pounds) for 3 x reps.
The trap bar dead lift is a great assessment tool for lower body, grip and core strength. It's also much safer than a traditional dead-lift. Picking up something heavy off the ground translates well to a number of tasks Soldiers perform in a combat/field environment.
10-pound ball throw: Throw a 10# slam ball (backwards) over your head. Great assessment for power/explosiveness. Scale maxes out at around 13 meters.
Hand-release push-ups: Hands in tight and a Soldier must release his/her hands off the ground after each rep. Very challenging and requires a lot of tricep strength - and core strength to keep knocking these out. 70 reps is the max, which is a very high goal to achieve.
Sprint-drag-carry: This event involves sprinting back and forth 25m, dragging a 90-pound sled back and forth (25m down and back), side shuffle down/back, carrying 2 x 40# Kettlebells down and back, and then sprinting (again) down and back.
This is a challenging event. To score the maximum 100 points, you must complete it in under 1 minute and 40 seconds.
Leg-tuck: This event involves a Soldier dead-hanging (with a Tarzan - opposite hands) from the pull-up bar and then bringing his/her knees up to their elbows - returning to the start position - and repeating as many times as possible.
This is also a challenging event and requires 20 reps to max it.
Last - but certainly not least - is the 2-mile run: We just couldn't do away with it could we? Run 2 miles as fast as you can. Extremely challenging event given everything else a Soldier has done prior to executing the 2-mile run.
This test does take longer to administer than the old APFT, but that is time well spent in my opinion.
I took the test last week and here is how I performed:
Trap-bar dead-lift: 340# for 3 reps. Max points - 100.
10# ball throw: 11'4". 89 points. I need to work on this more. There is a technique element to this event to generate max power at the release point - at the right trajectory - to hit the max distance on your throw.
Hand-release push-ups: 49 reps. Very challenging event for me. 90 points. I have only been doing these for about 5 months so these will take some work. If I can break into the mid-50s, I'd be happy in another 6-7 months.
Sprint/drag/carry: 1:35. 100 points. Great event. Hits the legs and lungs hard.
Leg tuck: 20 reps. 100 points. I was very happy that I was able to max this event as I had been training hard for it.
2-mile run: 13:58. 94 points. This was tough after doing everything else. I under-estimated how challenging this would be. It's critical to run after conducting strength training so that Soldiers are conditioned for this event. You are far less "fresh" in this 2-mile run than the previous APFT. This is also a great mental fitness assessment.
Overall, I was very happy with my performance and know where I need to focus for improvement. I wrote an 8-week training program for this event and lab-ratted it myself. I think it prepared me well for my first run through of the test and I will continue to work to improve the training plan over time.
The new ACFT will become the Army's official fitness test in October 2020, and many units will start taking it - unofficially - beginning this October as the Army refines the baseline standards for the test.
This is a great test and I applaud those who developed it. It provides a much more holistic assessment of our Soldiers and will only help to produce better, more well-rounded Soldiers and leaders for the Army moving forward.
Train hard! Train smart.
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The principle of reaping what we sow is certainly relevant to any effort requiring endurance. A Hail Mary might occasionally work on the football field (think Doug Flutie), but don’t expect that kind of miracle while participating in a 5k, half-marathon or marathon.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about endurance, it’s that it can’t be faked for long. Things have a tendency of shaking out fairly quickly. We know when someone has put in the work.
As heavyweight boxing great Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
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