ACFT Deadlift Weight Breakdown Guide – Army Combat Fitness Test

Introduction to the ACFT Deadlift

The United States Army has introduced the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) as its new standard for assessing soldiers’ physical readiness and functional fitness, replacing the previous Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). One of the pivotal components of the ACFT is the deadlift, a compound exercise targeting lower body muscles such as the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps, along with engaging the core, upper back, and grip muscles.

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Gender Age

Maximum Deadlift (lbs.)

lbs. points

Standing Power Throw (m)

m points

Hand-Release Push-Ups (reps)

reps points

Sprint Drag Carry (m:s)

m s points

Plank (m:s)

m s points

2 Mile Run (m:s)

m s points

Executed using a hexagonal barbell, also known as a trap bar, the deadlift in the ACFT requires soldiers to lift the barbell from the ground to a standing position while maintaining proper form. This modification in equipment promotes a more upright torso position, reducing stress on the lower back and offering a safer and user-friendly alternative, particularly for those new to weightlifting or with limited mobility.

The ACFT deadlift mandates specific weight requirements based on gender and age groups. For males, these requirements range from a minimum of 140 pounds to a maximum of 340 pounds, while females face weight ranges from 120 pounds to 270 pounds. The weight increments are set at 20-pound intervals, reflecting distinct proficiency levels.

This post delves into an overview of the ACFT, highlighting its transition from the APFT and detailing the six events it encompasses. The focus then shifts to the ACFT deadlift event, outlining the weight requirements for different gender and age categories. It emphasizes the significance of training to meet these standards, incorporating tips and strategies for improved deadlift performance aligned with the Army’s expectations.

Overview of the Army Combat Fitness Test

The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) represents a paradigm shift in the United States Army’s approach to evaluating soldiers’ physical readiness, supplanting the previous Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). With a comprehensive design, the ACFT aims to provide a holistic assessment of a soldier’s overall fitness and functional strength.

The ACFT comprises six events, each meticulously crafted to measure distinct facets of physical fitness. These events encompass the deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release push-ups, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck, and a two-mile run. This post concentrates on dissecting the nuances of the deadlift event, elucidating the weight requirements across various categories.

Weight Requirements for the ACFT Deadlift

The ACFT deadlift event, integral to assessing a soldier’s lower body and back strength, necessitates lifting a weighted barbell from the ground to a standing position with precision in form and technique. The weight requirements for this event are contingent on the soldier’s gender and age.

For male soldiers, the deadlift weight specifications are delineated as follows:

  • Maximum deadlift weight: 340 pounds
  • Significant deadlift weight: 340 pounds
  • Moderate deadlift weight: 250 pounds
  • Minimum deadlift weight: 140 pounds

Female soldiers, on the other hand, encounter distinct deadlift weight requirements:

  • Maximum deadlift weight: 340 pounds
  • Significant deadlift weight: 240 pounds
  • Moderate deadlift weight: 160 pounds
  • Minimum deadlift weight: 120 pounds

These weights underscore the varying levels of proficiency across categories, forming the baseline for soldiers’ performance evaluation in the ACFT deadlift event.

Techniques and Position for Proper ACFT Deadlift Execution

Achieving optimal performance in the ACFT deadlift necessitates meticulous attention to techniques and form. Executing the deadlift with precision is not only paramount for maximizing performance but also pivotal in ensuring safety during the test. Here are key techniques and form cues to consider:

  1. Starting Position: Initiate the deadlift from a sturdy starting position. Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes slightly pointed outward, and the barbell centered over the midfoot. Maintain a grip on the bar just outside the legs using a mixed grip for enhanced stability.
  2. Hip Hinge: Propel the movement by hinging at the hips, pushing them backward while preserving a straight back. This engages the posterior chain, loading the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back appropriately.
  3. Neutral Spine: Uphold a neutral spine throughout the movement, steering clear of rounding or excessive arching. Keep the chest elevated, shoulders retracted, and gaze forward to ensure proper alignment.
  4. Engage Core and Lats: Before lifting the bar, engage the core by bracing the abs and activate the lats by pulling the shoulder blades down and back. This stabilizes the spine, fostering a robust position during the lift.
  5. Drive Through the Heels: Focus on driving through the heels while maintaining midfoot balance during the lift. This activates the glutes and hamstrings, facilitating efficient force generation.
  6. Full Hip Extension: Achieve a fully upright position by forcefully extending the hips and squeezing the glutes at the top of the movement. Avoid hyperextending the lower back and sustain control throughout the range of motion.
  7. Controlled Descent: Lower the barbell with deliberate control, adhering to the same path as the upward movement. Keep the core engaged, maintain a neutral spine, and prevent the weight from pulling you forward.
  8. Breathing: Adhere to the Valsalva maneuver by inhaling before initiating the lift, holding the breath during the lift, and exhaling at the top or during the descent. This stabilizes the core, providing additional support to the spine.

Adhering to these techniques ensures proper deadlift execution, emphasizing the importance of learning and practicing correct form under the guidance of a qualified trainer.

Benefits and Considerations of the ACFT Deadlift

The ACFT deadlift is a pivotal element of the Army Combat Fitness Test, offering multifaceted benefits for soldiers. Here’s a glimpse into the advantages and considerations associated with incorporating the ACFT deadlift into training regimens:

  1. Full-Body Strength: As a compound exercise, the deadlift targets multiple muscle groups concurrently. Primarily focusing on the lower body muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves, it also engages the core, lower back, and upper body, fostering comprehensive strength and power development.
  2. Functional Movement Pattern: The deadlift mirrors fundamental movement patterns crucial in both everyday activities and military tasks. From lifting heavy equipment to carrying rucksacks or evacuating injured comrades, the deadlift’s mechanics closely align with real-world scenarios. Training this movement pattern enhances soldiers’ efficiency in executing these tasks.
  3. Injury Prevention: When executed with proper form, the deadlift strengthens muscles and connective tissues supporting the spine, mitigating the risk of lower back injuries – a common concern during physically demanding tasks. Incorporating the ACFT deadlift contributes to cultivating a robust lower back, potentially reducing injury risks in the field.
  4. Increased Power and Explosiveness: The deadlift’s explosive nature, requiring a potent initial drive followed by rapid extension, facilitates the development of explosive power. This attribute is vital for activities like sprinting, jumping, and quick directional changes. Soldiers can enhance their power and explosiveness through consistent ACFT deadlift training.

Considerations of ACFT deadlift into training

However, certain considerations should be borne in mind when integrating the ACFT deadlift into training routines:

  1. Technique and Form: Emphasizing proper technique is indispensable for a safe and effective ACFT deadlift. Learning and practicing correct form under the guidance of qualified trainers is crucial, as poor technique not only limits benefits but heightens the risk of injury.
  2. Progressive Overload: Gradual increments in lifting weights are essential for ongoing progress. Rushing to lift heavier loads without adequate strength and technique development may lead to injuries. Soldiers should prioritize safety and incrementally increase weights over time.
  3. Individual Differences and Limitations: Each soldier is unique, and individual differences and limitations must be considered when performing the ACFT deadlift. Factors such as existing injuries, mobility constraints, or medical conditions necessitate tailored considerations. Consultation with healthcare providers or trainers ensures the deadlift’s suitability for individual situations.

In conclusion, the ACFT deadlift emerges as a valuable component of the Army Combat Fitness Test, providing soldiers with comprehensive strength development, functional movement pattern training, injury prevention benefits, and increased power. Balancing these advantages requires a steadfast commitment to proper technique, progressive overload, and consideration of individual factors, allowing soldiers to optimize benefits while minimizing associated risks.

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