After 20 years of research, the U.S. Army has announced a new, more strenuous fitness test. It is designed to better prepare soldiers of both genders for combat tasks, reduce injuries and lead to ample cost savings across the service. The six-event readiness assessment, called the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), will replace the current three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, which has been around since 1980.
According to media reports and the U.S. Army website, this storied military branch “researched the baseline physical readiness requirements of high physical demand tasks soldiers perform in combat. The Army asked experts from the Army, combat veterans, active and reserve Soldiers, NCOs and officers, from all branches and backgrounds, for their knowledge and expertise on what it takes to be a soldier.”
Additionally, Army fitness researchers met with military fitness leaders from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, the Netherlands and many other fitness experts from civilian universities and centers to discuss U.S. Army soldier fitness. They consulted sister services such as, the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard and worked with the Department of Physical Education (West Point); U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and U.S. Army Public Health Center and the Army Physical Fitness School.
In response to this change in the Army fitness test and the training that will be necessary for soldiers to meet these rigorous requirements, Rally Fitness has developed an Army Combat Fitness Test Equipment Package. This package was designed by Rally Fitness, known for its rugged CrossFit and high-use fitness facilities equipment, to help soldiers train and test administrators to accurately assess the fitness of Army soldiers.
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According to the U.S. Army, “While the ACFT still keeps the 2-mile run as its final event, it introduces five others to provide a broad measurement of a soldier's physical fitness. The events are completed in order and can take anywhere from 45 to 55 minutes for a soldier to finish.”
The six fitness challenges of the new ACFT include the following:
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 and the weights will be increased. This event replicates picking up ammunition boxes, a wounded battle buddy, supplies or other heavy equipment on the battlefield.
Participants will toss a 10-pound ball backward as far as possible to test muscular explosive power. This replicates that which is needed to lift themselves or a fellow soldier up over an obstacle or to move rapidly across uneven terrain.
In this event, soldiers start in the prone position and execute 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 is designed to build additional upper body muscles.
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 test simulates pulling a battle buddy out of harm's way, moving quickly to take cover, or carrying ammunition to a fighting position or vehicle.
This test is 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 sit-up.
This is the 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 notes that “the ACFT gauges soldiers on the 10 components of physical fitness: muscular strength and endurance, power, speed, agility, aerobic endurance, balance, flexibility, coordination and reaction time. The current test only measures two: muscular and aerobic endurance.
While it still being fine-tuned, scoring will likely be 100 points for each event for a maximum of 600. Minimum scores, however, may change depending on a soldier's military occupational specialty. Soldiers in more physically demanding jobs may see tougher minimums, similar to how OPAT evaluates new recruits.
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