The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) emerged in 2018 as the United States Army’s upgraded physical fitness assessment, replacing the dated Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) used since the 1980s. While the APFT had its merits, especially in measuring basic physical fitness, it lacked in evaluating a soldier’s functional fitness – the ability to perform everyday tasks crucial in combat scenarios.

To address these shortcomings, the ACFT was introduced, featuring six events to comprehensively measure a soldier’s strength, power, and endurance. These events include the deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release push-ups, sprint-drag-carry, leg tucks, and a two-mile run. Recognized for its heightened difficulty, the ACFT demands soldiers to be in prime physical condition.

Since its implementation in 2019, the ACFT is now the standard fitness test for all soldiers. It’s designed to be gender- and age-neutral, scored on a 0-600 scale, with a minimum passing score of 360. Serving as a pivotal component of the Army’s fitness program, the ACFT ensures soldiers are physically prepared for the rigors of their duties.

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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

Revolutionizing Fitness Assessment: ACFT vs. Previous Test

The ACFT introduces significant changes compared to its predecessor, the Physical Fitness Test (PFT). Here’s a glimpse of the key distinctions:

  1. New Events: The ACFT boasts six events, a notable increase from the PFT’s three. Events like the leg tuck, demanding knee-to-elbow movement, contribute to the increased challenge.
  2. Enhanced Difficulty: Generally considered more demanding than the PFT, the ACFT poses challenges like the leg tuck, surpassing the difficulty of its counterpart, the sit-up.
  3. Scoring System: The ACFT adopts a point system, assigning varying weights to events based on their importance to overall physical readiness. Achieving a minimum score in each event and an overall score of 60 points is necessary for test success.
  4. Gender-Neutral Standards: Unlike the PFT, the ACFT applies the same standards to all soldiers, irrespective of gender, promoting uniformity in expectations.
  5. Age-Based Standards: Acknowledging the natural decline in physical abilities with age, the ACFT accommodates older soldiers with adjusted standards on some events.

Overall, the ACFT stands out as a more comprehensive and challenging assessment, better aligned with the physical demands of modern warfare.

Understanding ACFT Events and Scoring

The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) serves as a holistic assessment of a soldier’s physical fitness, evaluating strength, endurance, and overall readiness for combat. The six events that constitute the ACFT are as follows:

  1. Deadlift: Measures a soldier’s ability to lift a heavy weight from the ground.
  2. Standing Power Throw: Evaluates explosive power by throwing a 10-pound medicine ball as far as possible.
  3. Hand-Release Push-Up: Assesses upper body strength and endurance.
  4. Sprint-Drag-Carry: Measures the ability to move quickly and efficiently while carrying heavy weights.
  5. Leg Tuck: Tests core strength with a hanging knee-up movement.
  6. Two-Mile Run: Assesses endurance and cardiovascular fitness.

Each event earns a maximum score, contributing to an overall score that determines a soldier’s fitness level. Replacing the previous Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), the ACFT ensures soldiers are better prepared for the physical demands of combat.

Preparing for Success in the ACFT

Preparation for the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) requires a focused approach encompassing strength, endurance, and agility training. Here are tips to help soldiers get ready for the ACFT:

  1. Start Early: Commence training well in advance, ideally at least six months before the test.
  2. Baseline Assessment: Take the ACFT initially to gauge current fitness levels, identifying areas that need improvement.
  3. Strength Training Focus: Given the six strength-centric events, incorporate exercises like deadlifts and power throws into the workout routine.
  4. Endurance Building: Since endurance is vital, include cardio exercises like running or cycling to enhance performance in events like the two-mile run and leg tuck.
  5. Agility Training: The ACFT demands agility, particularly in events like sprint-drag-carry and shuttle run. Integrate agility-focused exercises into the training routine.
  6. Form Practice: Proper form is crucial. Dedicate time to practicing each event with correct technique for optimal performance.
  7. Stay Motivated: ACFT preparation can be challenging. Set realistic goals, track progress, and celebrate achievements along the way.

By following these tips, soldiers can better prepare for the ACFT, improving overall physical fitness and combat readiness.

ACFT Rollout: Timeline and Resources for Soldiers and Leaders

The implementation of the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is a phased process, with specific timelines and resources for soldiers and leaders:

  1. Initial Implementation: Active-duty and Reserve soldiers must take the ACFT as a diagnostic test by October 2020. During this phase, two diagnostic ACFTs are mandatory – one in the first quarter and one in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020.
  2. Full Implementation: From October 2020 onward, the ACFT replaces the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) as the official physical fitness test. Passing the ACFT becomes a requirement for graduating from Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training.
  3. Resources: The Army provides resources to aid soldiers and leaders in ACFT preparation. These include training videos, a mobile app, a field test manual, and participation in the Army’s Physical Readiness Training program.
  4. Leadership Role: Leaders play a vital role in successful ACFT implementation. They must ensure soldiers are trained and equipped to meet new standards, incorporate the ACFT into unit training plans, and provide feedback to soldiers. Encouraging the use of available resources is also crucial.

In summary, the ACFT rollout signifies a significant step in the Army’s commitment to improving physical fitness and readiness. Soldiers and leaders are encouraged to collaborate, utilizing available resources for a smooth transition to the new test.

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