The new U.S. Army Combat Fitness Test will replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test beginning in October of 2020, the service has announced.
The gender- and age-neutral test consists of six events. The Army Physical Fitness Test, introduced in 1980, has three events. The ACFT will keep the two-mile run as its final event, but the other five events are new. Soldiers will be expected to complete the events in 45 to 55 minutes. Here are the six events in order, via the Army news release:
— Strength deadlift: With a proposed weight range of 120 to 420 pounds, the deadlift event is similar to the one found in the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or OPAT, which is given to new recruits to assess lower-body strength before they are placed into a best-fit career field. The ACFT will require Soldiers to perform a three-repetition maximum deadlift (only one in OPAT) and the weights will be increased. The event replicates picking up ammunition boxes, a wounded battle buddy, supplies or other heavy equipment.
— Standing power throw: Soldiers toss a 10-pound ball backward as far as possible to test muscular explosive power that may be needed to lift themselves or a fellow Soldier up over an obstacle or to move rapidly across uneven terrain.
— Hand-release pushups: In this event, Soldiers start in the prone position and do a traditional pushup, but when at the down position they release their hands and arms from contact with the ground and then reset to do another pushup. This allows for additional upper body muscles to be exercised.
— Sprint/drag/carry: As they dash 25 meters five times up and down a lane, Soldiers will perform sprints, drag a sled weighing 90 pounds, and then hand-carry two 40-pound kettlebell weights. This can simulate pulling a battle buddy out of harm’s way, moving quickly to take cover, or carrying ammunition to a fighting position or vehicle.
— Leg tuck: Similar to a pullup, Soldiers lift their legs up and down to touch their knees/thighs to their elbows as many times as they can. This exercise strengthens the core muscles since it doubles the amount of force required compared to a traditional situp.
— 2-mile run: Same event as on the current test. In the ACFT, run scores are expected to be a bit slower due to all of the other strenuous activity.
The Army says the scoring from the APFT will likely carry over to the ACFT. Soldiers will be awarded up to 100 points for each event, for a maximum of 600. Minimum scores could change depending on a soldier’s military occupational specialty (MOS).
“The more physically challenging your MOS, the more you’ll be required to do at the minimum levels,” said Michael McGurk, director of research and analysis at the Army’s CIMT (Center for Initial Military Training).
Soldiers will be evaluated on 10 physical fitness components, including muscular strength and endurance; power; speed; agility; aerobic endurance; balance; flexibility; coordination; and reaction time. The current test only measures muscular and aerobic endurance.
The Army said field testing on the ACFT will commence in October. The plans is for up to 40,000 soldiers to evaluate it.
“The Army Combat Fitness Test will ignite a generational, cultural change in Army fitness and become a cornerstone of individual Soldier combat readiness,” said Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, CIMT commander. “It will reduce attrition and it will reduce musculoskeletal injuries and actually save, in the long run, the Army a heck of a lot of money.”
Army Combat Fitness Test Development
The service spent six years developing the test.
“Throughout that research and testing, the goal was to provide our leaders with a tough, realistic, field-expedient assessment of the physical component of their Soldiers’ individual readiness,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey. “The ACFT is scientifically-validated and will help better prepare our Soldiers to deploy, fight, and win on any future battlefield.”
Around 2,000 soldiers have already taken the test and provided feedback, the Army stated.
“The current PT test is only a 40 percent predictor of success for performing in combat and executing warrior tasks and battle drills,” Frost said. “This test is approximately an 80 percent predictor of performing based on our ability to test the physical components of combat fitness.”
The Army sees the ACFT as a way to usher in a “new era of fitness” and obtain overmatch in combat.
“The current leadership … has really coalesced and understands the importance of fitness itself and the importance of the PT test to drive that change in culture,” Frost said. “They’ve made the decision and we’re ready to execute.”