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What the New Army Combat Fitness Test Means for Female Recruits

female recruits working on new ACFT skills

One of the important aspects of the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is that it is gender neutral. This means that women recruits are tested and judged by the same criteria as men. This is a big change for the Army and represents an awareness of the importance of women in combat.

The Department of Defense formally opened combat positions to women in 2016, but until now there were different physical standards for the two genders. Basically, the training and testing suggested that women were not expected to perform in combat at the same level as men. Even with this uneven playing field, the Army transferred more than 600 women into combat occupations and more than 70 are in training to become infantry officers in 2017.


Rally Fitness: A Long History of Improving Military Fitness

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.

If you would like more information on the Rally Fitness Army Combat Fitness Test Equipment Package, click here for more information.


New Test Measures “Warrior Tasks”

According to this recent article “advances in the science of physiology led the U.S Army to reform their old PT training to more accurately measure and predict a soldier’s capabilities. The new Army Combat Fitness Test measures Warrior Tasks that gauge 10 components of physical fitness relative to a soldier’s actual duties in combat including; muscular strength and endurance, power, speed, agility, aerobic endurance, balance, flexibility, coordination and reaction time.

“Although the previous test was cost effective and required minimal equipment, it only measured two of these components; strength and endurance– which biologically, height and weight ratios gave males a general advantage. Push-ups, sit-ups and a timed 2-mile run could not precisely assess an individual’s overall fitness and health, never mind tell a soldier’s required preparedness for combat. Further, this test held individuals against a normative public standard compiled from thousands of previous test results. Physical fitness is not synonymous with talent or combat effectiveness, which is why the APFT (the former test) only predicted about 40 percent combat readiness for all servicemembers.”

This new test features 6 events measuring the 10 Warrior Tasks that are designed to replicate experiences soldiers might face while deployed. This includes: evacuating casualties from a vehicle, moving under and around obstacles and grappling in hand-to-hand combat.


A Soldier Against the Mission

At the risk of waxing too philosophical, the new AFCT is fundamentally changing the criteria for evaluating combat readiness in both women and men. With this new test, some have noted that it no longer compares a soldier to the theoretical, “average” soldier. Unlike with the previous fitness test, it is no longer a soldier versus to another soldier. It is a soldier versus the mission.

This thoughtful piece on the gender neutralization of the ACT notes, “The tasks, the assessment and the scoring hold each individual to the status of soldier and not to the status of male or female. Removing dated, rudimentary notions of fitness, the Army’s new model actually trains and prepares our service-members to serve which has shown a reduction in lower extremity injuries, heightened combative fitness and lower likelihood of injury when deployed. Further, implementing a healthier social philosophy, the ACFT measures physical fitness without marginalizing and segregating the strength of our soldiers through a gendered lens.”


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The Rally Army Combat Fitness Test equipment package has everything needed for this new test, and it’s priced right

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Getting a Taste of the New Army Combat Fitness Test: A Way for Soldiers to be “More Fit and More Lethal”


ACFT Army Soldiers

With the recent announcement of the new, more physically challenging Army Combat Fitness Test ( (ACFT), thousands of soldiers are getting a chance to test their mettle. Beginning October 2020, all soldiers will be required to take the new gender and age-neutral test. Before that, field testing began in October 2018 to allow the Army to refine the test, with initial plans for up to 40,000 soldiers from all three components to see it.

"The purpose of ACFT, first and foremost, is to make sure our soldiers are ready for the rigors of combat," Army Secretary Mark Esper told "We do have to sort through all the policies that come with a physical fitness test. I will tell you though ... at the end of the day, if you can't pass the Army Combat Fitness Test, then there is probably not a spot for you in the Army."

Training With the Equipment Used in the Test is Critical

Because it is a radical departure from the previous Army fitness test, the ACFT requires soldiers to strengthen those muscles that may not have been used for years. It also involves getting used to the equipment, such as kettlebells, 10-pound balls, 90-pound sleds and the other testing equipment.

 In response to the changes in the Army fitness test, Rally Fitness has developed an Army Combat Fitness Test Equipment Package. This package was developed by Rally Fitness, a company known for its rugged CrossFit and high-use fitness facilities, to help soldiers train for the test and test administrator to assess the fitness of these soldiers. 
For more information on the Army Combat Fitness Test Equipment Package, just click here.

Even veteran soldiers, who work out regularly, are challenged by this new Army test. According to this article, Staff Sgt. Rebecca Alvarez, a 31-year-old military police NCO at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, was one of hundreds of soldiers who volunteered for the pilot test with no knowledge of the events.

"I was already in shape because I was a drill sergeant. So, I knew that I was going to perform well," said Alvarez, who now works in the S3 shop with 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, supporting the basic training companies at Leonard Wood. "For me personally, the event that was the most challenging was the standing power throw, only because I didn't really know what part to exert my energy on, at what phase of motion; it was just a little awkward."

Future Soldiers are Also Getting Ready for the ACFT

ROTC kids workout

Those college students who may have put on the “Freshman 15” and are members of the ROTC will soon be shedding some of those pounds as they begin training for the new Army fitness test.

According to the Army’s website, Maj. Gen. John Evans, commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, said he wanted to provide his ROTC instructors an opportunity to see and experience the possible challenges the new test will bring with it.

"Our soldiers need to be more fit and more lethal. The legacy Army Physical Fitness Test was not encouraging or motivating us to train the right way. This test incorporates a total body fitness aspect, it works all of the muscle groups required for combat tasks. So it really replicates some of the challenges that we have seen soldiers go through over the last 17 years of combat," he explained. " It's really a combination of what we've learned over the past 30 or 40 years from a physiological standpoint, taking those things we know Soldiers are going to have to do in combat, and combining those to build a training regimen that will support better overall fitness."

"What we are trying to do with the test is drive a culture of fitness in the Army. It's not changing the test for the test's sake -- it's changing the test so that we can drive change toward fitness," Evans added. "We are trying to change the culture, which is extremely important for Cadet Command because we are the people who bring in the bulk of the Army's officer force."

“This test is about how well you do against the Army standard”

According to Michael McGurk, director of research for the Center of Initial Military Training, the organization overseeing the new ACFT, when Army leaders announced that the ACFT would do away with gender and age scoring, "It kind of gave a wake-up call to everybody,"

“When you go in harm's way,” McGurk said, “The standard in combat is the standard for everybody. The old test, because it was normative-based data and male and female and aged, it was basing you on how well you do against your compatriots, your peers. This new test isn't about how well you do against your peers. This test is about how well you do against the Army standard."

The Army recently published the "Field Test Manual, Army Combat Fitness Test" and the "Army Combat Fitness Training Guide" to help leaders and soldiers understand how the ACFT will be administered and how best to prepare to meet the standard.

The test manual addresses the upcoming ACFT field test, involving 60 battalions, to finalize the test standards, uniform, preparation, equipment lists, event procedures and grading guidance.

The training guide offers soldiers alternative exercises to prepare for the ACFT to help strengthen the muscles needed for each event.

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The Rally Fitness Army Combat Fitness Test Equipment Package has everything needed for this new test, and it is priced right at $2,498.00. Click here to order.