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The Army Guard Gets Ready to Tackle the Army Combat Fitness Test

ACFT workout warmup

Apprehension among America’s more than 330,000 citizen soldiers in the Army Guard is growing as October 2020 approaches. Why? This is the date when all Army soldiers must pass a more rigorous fitness test known as the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT).

According to wire service reports, “Spread out in more than 2,800 armories around the country, members of the Army Guard are required to do weekend duty once a month and a two-week stint during the year. A number of units are also tapped by state governors for help during hurricanes, wildfires, border problems and other events. And, during the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Guard units were routinely called up for active-duty deployments to fill needs that couldn't be met by the overstretched active-duty troops in the battle zones.”

The Army Guard is rushing to find more than 5,000 fitness instructors to get these weekend warriors in shape to pass the ACFT. It is also planning on purchasing more than $40 million in workout equipment.


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.

More Than 90 Percent of the Guard are Part-Time Soldiers

Fox News reports that "For those who are already doing well on their physical fitness test and they have the routine figured out, I think they're going to transition to this new test without any issues," said Army National Guard Lt. Col. Brian Dean, who is responsible for implementing the new test across the Guard. "People who are in those parts of their life where they're still kinda struggling to make the right time for fitness and do fitness in the right ways — this will feel significant."

Most Army Guard members see more limited duty and are often focused on their full-time jobs and other commitments, which can be hundreds of miles from the nearest military base. This presents a logistical challenge in their preparation for taking (and passing) the ACFT.

"Ninety percent of my soldiers are part-time," Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, the adjutant general for the Iowa National Guard, told The Associated Press in an interview. "I think there's apprehension. There's always the question of how are we going to do this with the time that we have, and the equipment we have."

The New ACFT is Tough

The Army’s current fitness test, which consists of two-minutes of pushups and sit ups and a 2-mile run, is being replaced with a much more rigorous test. The “events’ include:


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.



10lb Rubber Medicine Ball by Rally FitnessParticipants 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.



Nylon Sled by Rally FitnessAs 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 pull-up, 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.

Resources for the ACFT

The Army has been building training tools to help soldiers prepare for this challenging test. Click here  for more information on the ACFT training website.

Rally Fitness has also offered more detailed “Training Tips “ for the passing the ACFT. They can be accessed by clicking here.

The Biggest Challenge: The Timeline

Regular Army and Army Guard soldiers are facing a physical challenge that many have not had to face in decades. The biggest challenge, said Army National Guard Lt. Gol. Dean, is “the timeline — particularly identifying the thousands of trainers needed to staff all of the armories and work with soldiers on the new fitness regime. It takes about two days to get someone certified, and he said that so far only about 500 of the needed 5,000 trainers are in place. Getting the training equipment is a challenge, but it's not insurmountable."


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How to Train for the Army Combat Fitness Test


How to train for the ACFT

As inevitable as the sound of reveille every morning, the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is set for implementation in October 2019. In anticipation of this date, the field-testing continues and Army fitness trainers are learning how to train soldiers to meet this challenge.

The new ACFT 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, (, will replace the current three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, which has been around since 1980.

In conjunction with the preparation for this significant change in fitness policy, the U.S. Army has launched a website that helps to clarify this mission. It notes that the ACFT will “better connect fitness with combat readiness for all soldiers.” The site outlines the objectives of the new test:

  • Improve soldier and unit readiness
  • Transform the Army’s fitness culture
  • Reduce preventable injuries and attrition
  • Enhance mental toughness and stamina

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.

Tips on Training for the ACFT

There are six events in the new test and each has its own training requirements. Here are some training tips for this challenging test.

#1 Three Repetition Maximum Deadlift

Soldier deadlifts for ACFT

According to the ACFT website, “The Three Repetition Maximum Deadlift (MDL) event represents movements required to safely and effectively lift heavy loads from the ground, jump, bound and tolerate landing. It requires well-conditioned back and leg muscles and helps Soldiers to avoid upper and lower back injuries caused by moving long distances under heavy load.”

Here are three videos to help soldiers train for this event:

#2 Standing Power Throw

Soldier back-throwing a medicine ball for ACFT

According to the Army the Standing Power Throw (SPT) event represents tasks requiring quick explosive movements to maneuver equipment and personnel.

Here’s how to train for this event:

#3 Hand-Release Push Up

Army Combat Fitness Test Kettlebell Pushup

This event consists of the soldier completing as many push-ups as possible in a two-minute time period. This is an upper body endurance test that represents repetitive and sustained pushing used in combat tasks.

Here’s how to train for this event:

#4 Sprint-Drag-Carry

According to the website, The Sprint-Drag-Carry (SDC) is a test of strength, endurance, and anaerobic capacity, which are needed to accomplish high intensity combat tasks that last from a few seconds to several minutes. It involves 5 x 50 - meter shuttles for time - sprint, drag, lateral, carry and sprint.

Here’s are some video tips on training for this event:

#5 Leg Tuck

“The Leg Tuck (LTK) assesses the strength of the soldiers grip, arm, shoulder and trunk muscles. These muscles assist soldiers in load carriage and in avoiding injuries to the back.” The event involves completing as many leg tucks as possible in two minutes; maintain a relative vertical posture while moving the hips and knees up and down without excessive swinging or kipping.

Here’s how to train for this event:

#6 Two-Mile Run

ACFT 2 Mile Run

This event is a two-mile run for time. It measures aerobic endurance, which is required for conducting continuous operations and ground movements on foot. Higher aerobic endurance allows the body to recover quickly in preparation for executing other physically demanding tasks that may arise during a ground movement, such as reacting quickly to enemy contact.

The best training tip for this event involves running...lots and lots of running!


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Rally Fitness

The Rally Fitness Army Combat Fitness Test equipment set has everything needed for this new test, and it is priced right at $2,395.

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.

Get Started Now

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.