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.
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 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.
STANDING POWER THROW
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 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."