An in-Depth Look at The New Army ACFT Fitness Test

Jordan Mendiola

The Army’s original PFT (physical fitness test) consisted of push-ups & situps for 2 minutes and a 2-mile run at the end.

Striving for the most points was always my goal and I even achieved a perfect 300 score with 71 push ups, 79 situps, and a 12:50 2 mile.

The Army’s updated fitness test is the ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test). It’s a three-event physical performance test used to assess endurance. It measures your physical strengths, abilities, and cardio-respiratory fitness.

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ACFT Grading Scale

The new fitness test is more demanding and requires more coordination, strength, power, stability, and agility. Let’s go in-depth of all six events.

1. Three Repetition Maximum Deadlift (MDL)

Deadlift the maximum weight possible three times.

The MDL assesses the Muscular Strength component of fitness by measuring a Soldier’s lower body, grip and core muscular strength.

It requires well-conditioned back and leg muscles and helps Soldiers to avoid hip, knee and lower back injuries. Flexibility and balance are secondary components of fitness assessed by the MDL.

Execute three continuous repetitions with the same weight. If the Soldier fails to complete three continuous repetitions under control, he or she is permitted one retest at a lower weight.

If the Soldier successfully completes three continuous repetitions on the first attempt, he or she may elect an additional attempt at a higher weight. The maximum number of attempts on the MDL is two.

Proper form and stretching beforehand will help you perform at your best.

Application

The MDL is a good test for soldiers in a combat situation. You may need to carry ammo cans, gas cans, and litters.

2. Standing Power Throw (SPT)

Throw a 10-pound medicine ball backward and overhead for distance.

The SPT event assesses the Power component of fitness by measuring a Soldier’s ability to generate quick, explosive movements with their upper and lower body.

Secondary components of fitness assessed by the SPT include Balance, Coordination and Flexibility.

Soldiers will get two throws. They will grab the medicine ball and launch it back over their heads as far as they can.

Although Soldiers are required to execute two record throws and both record throws are recorded, only the longer of the two throws will count as the record score. The start line grader will circle the best score.

Proper form and explosive throws will help you achieve the best score possible.

Application

Soldiers will be well equipped to throw equipment onto or over an obstacle, life soldiers, up over a wall, jump across obstacles, and apply force in hand-to-hand combat.

3. Hand-Release Push Up— Arm Extension (HRP)

Complete as many Hand-Release Push-ups as possible in two minutes

The HRP assesses the Muscular Endurance component of fitness by measuring a Soldier’s upper body endurance.

The HRP is a strong driver for upper body and core strength training. Flexibility is a secondary component of fitness assessed by the HRP.

Soldiers will complete a push up, fall to their stomach, extend their arms to their sides with a full wingspan, bring them back in, and perform a pushup.

Controlled breathing, proper form, and quickness will help you achieve the best score possible.

Application

  • Moving obstacles
  • Pushing an opponent away during man-to-man contact
  • Pushing a disabled vehicle
  • Getting to and from the ground during evasion and maneuver
  • Reaching out from the prone position when shooting, taking cover, or low crawling

4. Sprint-Drag-Carry (SDC)

Conduct 5 x 50 meter shuttles for time — sprint, drag, lateral, carry and sprint.

This is one of the most physically demanding tasks of all the events.

The SDC assesses the Muscular Endurance, Muscular Strength, Anaerobic Power and Anaerobic Endurance components of fitness by measuring a Soldier’s ability to sustain moderate to high intensity muscular work over a short duration.

Secondary components of fitness assessed by the SDC include Balance, Coordination, Agility, Flexibility and Reaction Time.

Soldiers will:

  1. Sprint 25 meters down and back.
  2. Drag the 90-pound sled down and back.
  3. Perform a lateral 25 meters down and back without crossing feet.
  4. Carry two 40-pound kettlebells and run to the 25-meter turn line and back.
  5. Sprint 25 meters down and back.

By the end of this event, expect your legs to feel like jello, and give yourself a moment to catch your breath.

Proper breathing, technique, and pace will lead you to a passing score.

Application

  • Reacting quickly to direct and indirect fire
  • Building a hasty fighting position
  • Extracting a casualty from a vehicle and carry them to safety
  • Carrying ammunition to a fighting position or vehicle

5. Plank (PLK)

Maintain a proper plank position for as long as possible

The PLK assesses the Muscular Endurance component of fitness by measuring a Soldier’s core strength and endurance. Balance is a secondary component of fitness assessed by the PLK.

The plank event is terminated when the Soldier touches the floor with any part of the body except the feet, forearms, or fists, or, raises a foot or hand off the floor, or, fails to maintain the straight-line position from head to heels.

Deep breaths and core workouts will help you hold your plank for the longest time possible.

Application

  • Surmounting obstacles and walls
  • Rope climbing, descending or traversing

6. Two-Mile Run (2MR)

Run two miles for time on a measured, generally flat outdoor course.

The 2MR assesses the Aerobic Endurance component of fitness. Higher aerobic endurance allows a Soldier to work for long periods of time and to recover more quickly when executing repetitive physical tasks.

The two-mile run can be completed on an indoor or outdoor track, or an improved surface such as a road or sidewalk.

The 2MR cannot be tested on unimproved terrain. The start and finish line will be near the same location as the test site for the other five test events. Out-and-back or lap track courses are authorized.

A fast, but steady pace with proper form and breathing will help you score the best run time possible.

Application

  • Dismounted movement
  • Ruck march
  • Infiltration

Final Thought

The events in the new ACFT are much more challenging but necessary for the next generation of soldiers going forward.

We need more physically fit troops who can withstand any situation thrown at them. I believe that updating the physical fitness test was a great move and will push everyone to new heights.

Hopefully, this quick overview of the new ACFT inspires you to take it yourself and perform to the best of your ability on your next test.

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Creative entrepreneur, U.S. Army Engineer, and dedicated runner. Committed to sharing ideas that lead to more fulfillment in all areas of life. Email: mendiola1829@gmail.com

Chicago, IL
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