The dramatically revamped set of requirements for soldiers replaced standards created in 1983 after years of limbo and broad skepticism from many in the service.
The most significant changes to the six-event ACFT is that it no longer is meant to prepare soldiers for combat but instead built as a general fitness assessment. It will also have different scoring standards for men and women across different age groups, in most cases lowering them, following a congressionally mandated report from Rand Corp, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, that found nearly half of the service’s women could not pass earlier standards for the test.
The officer or noncommissioned officer overseeing the test will read aloud the following instructions to all soldiers before administering the ACFT:
You are about to take the Army Combat Fitness Test, or ACFT, a test that measures total body fitness. Within the last 48 hours, you have been given the opportunity to review the test events and standards. Are there any soldiers who failed to complete this task or who do not fully understand the testing requirements?
The test results will give you and your commanders an indication on your level of physical fitness and will serve as a guide in determining your physical training needs. You will rest and recover at each station while others in your testing group complete their turns. Do the best you can on each test event.
Test Requirements, Per the ACFT Manual
The six events for the ACFT include the three-repetition deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release push-up, sprint-drag-carry, plank and two-mile run. The test must be conducted in that sequence. The ACFT is intended to be completed in 70 minutes or less.
The ACFT requires a testing site with a two-mile running course and a flat, 40x40-meter space of well-maintained grass. If testing is done indoors, the sprint-drag-carry event must be conducted on artificial turf. Wood and rubberized surfaces are not authorized. The two-mile run may be conducted at an indoor track.
There should be no more than four soldiers per grader.
Each testing lane will have one certified ACFT grader. The number of testing lanes will depend on the number of soldiers undergoing testing.
Soldiers will conduct the ACFT in the Army Physical Fitness Uniform. Other devices or gear, such as weightlifting belts or gloves, are not permitted unless prescribed by a medical provider.
Biometric devices such as watches and heart-rate monitors are authorized, except in certain operations and overseas conditions dictated by the commander.
Soldiers will begin with 10-minute preparation drills at their own pace; this event is not tested. It's important the soldiers use this time to stretch and warm up, but they should not become fatigued.
The preparation drills include: The bend and reach, rear lunge, high jumper, rower, squat bender, windmill, forward lunge, prone row, bent-leg body twist and push-ups.
At this point, the NCO or officer in charge will hand out a scorecard and pencil to each soldier. Soldiers will carry their scorecard to each test event and give it to the grader to record their scores. At the end of the test, soldiers will sign their scorecards before leaving the testing area.
After receiving their scorecards, soldiers will be given an additional 10 minutes for a self-paced warmup for the deadlift. Army regulation recommends several repetitions of 25-50% of a soldier's maximum deadlift.
ACFT Three-Repetition Deadlift
Deadlift stations should be organized by weight. For example, one station will be set up for 160 lbs., another at 180 lbs., and so on. The test should not start with more than five soldiers at any deadlift lane. If too many soldiers line up at a particular lane, weights should be adjusted at other stations.
The heaviest weight lifted three times is the recorded score. If a soldier needs to lower the weight after beginning their repetitions, they are allowed a two-minute rest. Soldiers are allowed two attempts to successfully deadlift three times with the same weight.
A test is not stopped for minor errors that are not considered a risk for injury.
The deadlift event has three phases: preparatory, upward movement and downward movement.
Preparatory: Soldiers step inside the trap bar with their feet roughly shoulder-width apart. On the command "Get set," the soldier will bend at the knees and hips, and grab the center of the handles. All repetitions will begin in this position.
Upward Movement: On the command "Go," the soldier will stand, lift the bar and end in an upward stance. Soldiers should have a brief pause.
Downward movement: The soldier lowers the bar to the ground without dropping it. The weight plates need to touch the ground before the next repetition. Soldiers are not allowed to rest in this position.
ACFT Standing Power Throw
The lane grader will pre-position a soldier to retrieve the medicine ball. One grader will be in the testing lane with a marking stick to note the ball's landing point. The ball may land outside the soldier's lane. Once it lands, the grader measuring will shout out the distance of the initial landing point to the nearest tenth of a meter.
The soldier's first throw is for practice. The soldier will conduct two more throws, both of which will be recorded on the scorecard. The longest will count as their score for the event.
The soldier will throw the 10 lb. medicine ball while standing at, but never on or over, the starting line. If a soldier steps on or over the line during their throw, that throw must be repeated. Soldiers can have only two repeated throws in a row. Beyond that, they will fail that attempt.
ACFT Hand-Release Push-Up
The NCO or officer in charge of running the test will track the time for the event. Soldiers get two minutes to do as many hand-release push-ups as possible.
On the command "Get set," one soldier in each lane will assume the prone position with their hands flat on the ground. Their index fingers should be inside the edge of their shoulders, with their feet no more than a boot's width apart.
On the command "Go," the NCO or officer administering the test will start the clock. The soldier will push their body from the ground as a single unit, with their elbows fully extended. Their body should also be in a straight alignment from their head to ankles.
Soldiers will then lower their bodies to the ground. The hips, chest and thighs must touch the ground; the face and head should not. The soldier will then extend both hands from their body until their arms are fully extended. It does not matter whether their hands touch the ground. After a 90-degree angle is formed between the arms and trunk of the shoulders, elbows should bend to return the hands to under the shoulders.
The front leaning rest position is the only authorized rest position. Soldiers are not allowed to rest on the ground. Rest, per Army doctrine, is "generally considered a stop longer than 5 seconds." Soldiers are forbidden from lifting their feet off the ground and will get only one warning before the event is terminated.
How To Do the Army CFT Push-Up
ACFT Sprint-Drag Carry
The NCO or officer in charge of administering the test will track the time for this event.
On the command of "Get set," one soldier in each lane will assume the prone position. The top of their heads should be at the start line.
On the command "Go," soldiers will stand up and sprint 25 meters; touch the 25-meter line with their foot and hand; then turn around and spring back to the start line.
The soldier will then drag a pre-positioned 90-lb. sled behind the start line by grabbing each attached strap handle. The soldier will drag the sled back down the lane until the entire sled crosses over the 25-meter line. The soldier then turns around, dragging the sled back to the start point. The sled must cross the start point.
After the sled drag, the soldier will move laterally down the lane, touch the 25-meter line with their hand and foot, and move laterally back facing the same direction. Feet may not cross each other but are allowed to shuffle and touch.
After the lateral movement, the soldiers will grab two 40-lb. kettlebells and run to the 25-meter turn line, step on or over it, and run back to the start point. If a kettlebell is dropped, the soldier will resume the carry from where the kettlebell hit the ground.
When the soldier returns to the start point, they will place the kettlebells on the ground, turn and sprint down to the 25-meter turn line, touch it with their hand and foot, and return to the start point.
The time is called when the soldier crosses the start line after the final sprint.
The plank is meant to be conducted on grass or any flat surface free of debris. Army regulations do not recommend concrete, gravel or dirt surfaces.
On the command "Get ready," hands must be on the ground in fists with the pinky side of the hand on the ground, or laying flat with palms on the ground. Palms or hands should be generally a fist-width apart. On the command "Go," the soldier will lift their knees off the ground. Feet should be a boot-width apart.
The grader will call out 15-second time intervals until the completion of the event.
Shaking and trembling is permitted, so long as the plank position is maintained.
A 10-minute rest period will begin once the last soldier completes their plank.
ACFT Two-Mile Run
The test must be conducted on flat terrain. The run can be completed outdoors or indoors. Soldiers are not allowed to wear headphones.
-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.
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