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Would You Pass The Army Combat Fitness Test? The New ACFT Requirements

See how you stack up!

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The U.S. Army has rolled out a new fitness test, the ACFT 3.0, the first change to the test in 40 years.

Back in 2013, the Army realized they had a problem when they were evacuating more soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan due to preventable musculoskeletal injuries as opposed to combat injuries.

Frankly put, active duty soldiers were not in good enough shape to handle the everyday physical demands of deployment.

To reduce injuries and improve combat readiness, the Army replaced its previous three-event fitness test—minutes of sit-ups, push-ups, and a 2-mile run (essentially a Cooper Test)—with the Army ACFT 3.0, a six-event assessment designed to be completed within a 120-minute period.

In this guide, we will discuss the updates to this updated U.S. military test, and how to perform the six exercises in the ACFT yourself.

Would You Pass The Army Combat Fitness Test ACFT

Here are the 6 Exercises in the new ACFT

The new ACFT 3.0 includes six events in total. Each one has a minimum pass threshold of 60 points and a maximum of 100 points.

Therefore the minimum theoretical passing score is 360, while the maximum possible is 600.

Here are the six exercises:

  • Three-Repetition Maximum Deadlift
  • Standing Power Throw
  • Hand-Release Push-up
  • Sprint-Drag-Carry
  • Leg Tuck or Plank
  • Two-Mile Run

In addition to adding more events and skills they thought would more accurately test functional fitness, they changed the scoring, and that’s been causing a bit of a stir.

Now, All ACFT Participants Are Graded The Same Way

The Army eliminated adjustments for age group, weight, height, and gender—all soldiers will be scored on the same scale.

Critics say single-scale raw scoring unfairly disadvantages smaller individuals and women. That disadvantage is most obvious in the three resistance events in the new ACFT event standards —Deadlift, Power Throw, and Sprint-Drag-Carry.

Take the example of a 110-pound woman and a 185-pound man who deadlift the minimum standard passing weight of 140 pounds.

Both would receive the same score despite their personal fitness levels being quite different. A perfect score of 340 pounds for deadlifting is probably not achievable by a 110-pound woman, regardless of how hard she trains.

Two officers wrote in a letter in the Army Times, “We believe that the Army needs a scoring system that assesses minimal combat readiness while rewarding individual fitness.”1Craig, R., Smith, M., & Smith, S. (2022, January 14). We have a new approach to the Army Combat Fitness Test grading scale. Army Times. https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2022/01/14/we-have-a-new-approach-to-the-army-combat-fitness-test-grading-scale/ They criticized the lack of adjusting for individual body composition.

Recognizing the physiological differences between men and women, the Army says it will add five performance levels within genders—green, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum- based on their percentile rank within their gender.

Would You Pass The Army Combat Fitness Test ACFT 2

How would you score on ACFT 3.0?

As a runner, you might be able to rock the two-mile run, but let’s look at the new army ACFT standards to see if you’re really in fighting shape. Who knows—a little warrior training might make you a healthier or humbler runner!

The minimum score to pass is 60 points for each test, with a maximum of 100 points, for a minimum overall score of 360 and a perfect score of 600.

The very thorough ACFT website2Army Combat Fitness Test. (2018). Army Combat Fitness Test. https://www.army.mil/acft/ includes detailed instructions as to how the exercise is performed, as well as videos showing how to train for the test. It also describes how this event correlates to activities in the field. You might notice some applications in your own daily life!

Remember, you cannot pick and choose which events you do—the challenge of ACFT 3.0 is that you must do all six events in a 120-minute period.

By the time you get to the main event of the 2-mile run, you’ve built up some serious fatigue.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Exercise #1: Three-Repetition Maximum Deadlift

Would You Pass The Army Combat Fitness Test ACFT 3
  • Passing (60 points), 140 pounds
  • Perfect (100 points), 340 pounds

Using a hex bar, plate weights, and good form, the candidate deadlifts from 140 pounds to 340 pounds three times. The idea here is that practicing good deadlift form strengthens the upper and lower back and legs to prevent injuries from carrying heavy loads.

Using clever Army psychology, they figured requiring three lifts would prevent injuries from an overly ambitious one-and-done. And they were right!

Exercise #2: Standing Power Throw

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  • Passing (60 points), 4.5 meters
  • Perfect (100 points), 12.5 meters

Candidates throw a 10-pound medicine ball overhead and backward as far as possible from a standing position. This one tests explosive power, balance, and coordination, factors the Army found are important to “overall movement lethality.”

True, these skills are not much practiced by distance runners, but don’t despair—good form goes almost as far as brute strength.

Exercise #3: Hand-Release Push-Ups

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As many as possible in two minutes:

  • Passing, 10 reps
  • Perfect, 60 reps

You’ll be relieved to know this is not the version with a clap between push-ups, as seen in dorm party dares. In this case, the candidate lowers his/herself from high plank position to the ground, keeping elbows close to their body.

With their chest on the ground, the candidate extends arms out to the side, then replaces hands next to their body and pushes back up to the front plank position.

The United States Army has lots of experience with push-ups since they’ve been part of the fitness test for decades.

Over the years, they found soldiers doing the usual push-up format went for quantity over quality.

Their form deteriorated, and the test didn’t correlate to upper body strength or fitness in the field. The hand-release method required better form, was a better test of upper body strength, and correlated to tasks soldiers would actually need to perform.

Exercise #4: Sprint Drag Carry

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  • Passing, 3:00 minutes
    Perfect, 1:33 minutes

This is a 5 x 50-meter event consisting of a sprint, dragging a 90-pound sled, lateral shuffle, carrying two 40-pound kettlebells, and another sprint.

It was added to the new Army Combat Fitness Test because it has tons of frontline applications, and was easy to learn. While not part of the previous Fitness Test, the Army has been doing shuttle-type interval training for decades.

Maybe that’s why soldiers didn’t have many problems when they rolled out the army ACFT 3.0. Crossfitters out there, this is a slam dunk for you.

Exercise #5: Leg Tuck or Plank

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Leg Tuck:

  • Passing, one rep
  • Perfect, 20 reps

Plank:

  • Passing, 2:09 minutes
  • Perfect, 4:20 minutes

Sprint Drag Carry may have presented no problem for soldiers, but Leg Tuck sure has.

While hanging from a bar with your hands on opposite sides, keeping one’s head even with the bar, the candidate lifts his knees and hips into a tucked position and lowers them back to vertical.

It’s a steep test of grip, upper body, and core strength. Leg Tuck was chosen over the more common pull-up because it more closely correlates to pulling oneself high enough on a wall to “hook a heel” and get over—real-world maneuvers.

However, leg tucks proved to be the undoing of so many soldiers that the Army introduced the plank as an alternative test of core strength.

Realizing that the leg tuck requires greater upper body as well as core strength, those choosing the plank are encouraged to work toward the leg tuck, which is the gold standard.

While they wanted to provide a pathway to success, the Army does not like to be seen as “soft” on fitness standards.

Exercise #6: Two-Mile Run

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  • Passing, 21:00 minutes
  • Perfect, 13:30 minutes

This is the only event that tests aerobic ability instead of focusing on muscular endurance, and it has been a part of the Army’s fitness program since its inception. It’s done outdoors, on a flat, measured course.

The suggested training is sprint intervals of 30-, 60-, and 120-second duration, as well as hill sprints. If you’ve been humbled in the previous events, here is the place to regain pride.

What You’ll Need To Do The ACFT Yourself

Ideally, you should do the ACFT in a well-equipped gym. As well as plenty of space, you need the following equipment to perform it properly:

  • A hex bar and plates (for the Deadlift)
  • A 10lb medicine ball (for the Standing Power Throw)
  • A weighted sled with 90lb weight on it (for Sprint Drag Carry)
  • 2 x 40lb kettlebells (for Sprint Drag Carry)
  • An elevated bar if you are doing leg tucks
  • Access to a flat, measured running route for the 2-mile run.

Remember, the exercises should be performed in sequence, and have to be completed within 120 minutes!

Are you ready to get your military training on and take the Army Physical Fitness Test?

If you are looking for a basic training program to build muscular strength for the APFT, check out our strength training guides here:

References

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Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of MarathonHandbook.com. His work has been featured in Runner's World, Livestrong.com, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and playing with his two tiny kids. More at his bio.

6 thoughts on “Would You Pass The Army Combat Fitness Test? The New ACFT Requirements”

  1. Further clarification of 120-minute timeline in paragraph 2-34. of ATP 7-22.01: “Soldiers complete the six events of the ACFT in order on the same day during a test period not to
    exceed 120 minutes to include Preparation Drill and 3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift preparation. This time limit applies to all ACFT scenarios, to include Soldiers taking the Army Combat Fitness Test (Modified) (ACFT MOD) as well as Soldiers testing individually or in pairs. The test period is the time that elapses from the start of the Preparation Drill to the finish of the 2-Mile Run (from the first Bend and Reach to the 21-minute point of the 2-Mile Run) or the finish of the 25 minutes allowed for completion of the ACFT MOD
    events.”

    https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/ARN33179-ATP_7-22.01-001-WEB-3.pdf

    Reply
  2. The Army loosened the upper age limit in 2006 to 42 years. I got in at 41 and I am still in fifteen plus years later – Army Reserves. I am not sure what the upper age limit is currently.

    We, soldiers, airmen, navy, and marines, coast guard, and guardians, appreciate the public support. Some missions we choose, others we are vol-in-told.

    Reply

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