Army Combat Fitness Test Workout Plan (Dominate the ACFT)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 31, 2024
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Physical fitness is required at all levels of the army.

As a personal fitness trainer, I've had clients asking about the requirements to join the army and what the army combat fitness test workout entails.

To give them a precise answer, I did intensive one-week research about the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) that will help improve the score.

I recommend trying our best pre-workout supplements for the energy, strength, focus, and pump required to complete the workout test in time.

In this article, I will provide my research and findings on the Army combat test, the workout description, and tips for creating the ACFT fitness plan.

Quick Summary

  • The ACFT consists of six activities with the same test criteria for men and women because the physical challenges they confront during battle are the same.
  • Active Army and Active Guard Reserve (AGR) soldiers are assigned two ACFTs, while Guard and Reserve soldiers are assigned one.
  • According to the U.S. Army website, soldiers in the platinum tier scored in the top 1% of the overall force, while soldiers in the green tier scored between 360 and 50% of the whole force, and each year, tier cutoffs may be adjusted based on performance data.
  • The whole fitness test must be performed in 50 minutes, contributing to the challenge because soldiers will only have a short time to recuperate between actions.

The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT)

A person in the army doing a combat fitness test

The Army Combat Fitness Test is the United States Army's new test, consisting of a standing power throw, plank (in place of leg tuck), deadlift, sprint-drag-carry, hand-release push-up, and a 2-mile run [1].

The new combat fitness test is designed to replace the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) exercises.

It consists of six events with test requirements comparable for men and women because the physical training demands they confront during conflict are the same.

It seeks to improve troop and unit preparedness while strengthening the army's fitness culture.

"The ACFT training plan is critical to preserving Army readiness as we transition towards the Army of 2030."

- Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the Army

ACFT Workout Description

A gym coach writing down on a clipboard

Each event is evaluated on a 100-point scale (a total of 600), with 60 being the lowest needed to obtain a passing ACFT score (totaling 360).

An extra five-tier system is being discussed to place troops in one of five performance categories: platinum, gold, silver, bronze, or green.

According to the U.S. Army website, soldiers in the platinum tier scored in the top 1% of the overall force, while soldiers in the green tier scored between 360 and 50% of the whole force, and each year, tier cutoffs may be adjusted based on performance data [2].

For troops with permanent profiles, the alternative evaluation covers all ACFT events within their profile parameters, comprising at least one among the aerobic events.

According to what we found on the official U.S. Army website, aerobic test activities include a basic 2-mile run with a time minimum of 21 minutes, alternative events with a time standard of 25 minutes, and the choice of a 2.5-mile walk, 5,000-meter row, 12,000-meter stationary bike, or 1,000-meter swim [3].

With these more stringent testing standards, ensure you warm up before beginning your ACFT training.

Warm Up

Military warm-up routines will be just as vital as the test itself. Begin with running in place, leg tucks, sit-ups, and jumping jacks to get the blood flowing before you begin exercising.

Alternatively, include bodyweight dynamic stretching with a stretch strap to minimize stiffness before a heavy lifting or running session.

Event 1: 3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift

A person doing a repetition maximum deadlift

Here's what Event 1 entails:

  • What you do throughout the event: Using a sixty-pound hex (trap) bar and plates, deadlift the maximum weight three times.
  • What is assessed: The maximum amount of weight lifted three times.
  • Points awarded: 60 points for 140 lbs for men and 120 lbs for women, 100 points for 340 lbs for men, and 230 lbs for women. (varying slightly based on age range).
  • What it simulates: Carrying and lifting heavy loads from the ground (equipment and injured soldiers).
  • How to train: Your ACFT preparation session should incorporate sumo deadlifts, forward lunges, and bench presses to develop your physical training strength and balance for event one.

Event 2: Standing Power Throw

Here's what Event 2 entails:

  • What you do throughout the event: Throw a 10-pound medicine ball backward, over the head.
  • What is evaluated: The distance threw.
  • Points awarded: 60 points for men and 4 points for women for a distance of 6 meters, 100 points for a distance of 8.7 meters for women, and 13.1 meters for men (varying slightly based on age range).
  • What it simulates: Throwing equipment over a wall or onto an obstacle, assisting a fellow soldier in climbing over a wall, employing force in man-to-man interaction, and jumping across and over obstacles.
  • How to train: Increase your explosive power and muscular strength by performing overhead presses, power jumps, and standing power throws.

Event 3: Hand-Release Push-up

A person doing a hand release push up

Here's what Event 3 entails:

  • What you do throughout the event: Perform as many hand-release push-ups as possible within the two-minute time limit.
  • What is evaluated: The total number of hand-release push-ups done.
  • Points awarded: 60 points for 10 reps for both women and men, 100 points for 48 reps for women, and 60 for men (varying slightly based on age range).
  • What it simulates: Pushing an opponent away during man-to-man combat, pushing a ruined vehicle, moving obstacles, extending out from a prone posture when crawling, seeking cover or firing, and getting up and down from ground level during evasive maneuvers.
  • How to train: The army hand-release push-ups measure the upper body's muscular endurance and strength. Therefore perform the floor tricep dips, shoulder push-ups, inchworms, and plank raises to strengthen your arm and chest muscles.

Event 4: Sprint-Drag-Carry

Here's what Event 4 entails:

  • What you do throughout the event: Sprint 25m from the starting point to a line and back, then drag a rope attached to a 90 lbs weighted sled while sprinting down and back, perform a lateral shuffle there and back, take a 40 lbs kettlebell in both hands and quickly carry them to the cone and back, and finally sprint there and back again.
  • What is measured: The amount of time it takes you to finish the 5x50 meter shuttles (sprint, drag, lateral, carry, and sprint).
  • Points awarded: 60 points for finishing in 3:15 for women and 2:30 for men, 100 points for finishing in 1:55 for women and 1:30 for men (varying slightly based on age range).
  • What it simulates: Responding quickly to both direct and indirect fire, removing a wounded soldier from a vehicle and transporting them to safety, and transporting ammunition to the fighting position or vehicle.
  • How to train: To imitate sprint-drag-carry exercises, start with individual parts. Sprinting and lateral shuffles may be practiced to enhance your speed progressively. To practice the carry phase of the SDC, use a kettlebell. To practice the drag, connect a cord to a tire or a sack packed with weights instead of a weighted sled. After you've finished working on each part separately, begin putting them together.

Event 5: Plank

A person doing a plank

Here's what Event 5 entails:

  • What you do throughout the event: Hold a correct plank posture for as long as possible.
  • What is measured: The length of time you can hold a plank posture.
  • Points awarded: 60 points for a 1:30 plank for both women and men, 100 points for a 3:30 plank for both women and men.
  • What it simulates: Moving in a prone position and taking and keeping cover.
  • How to train: This workout calls for a combination of core power and stamina. To establish core strength and time for standard planks, perform the bent leg raise, leg tuck, side planks, straight arm planks, and reverse planks with leg raises.

Event 6: Two-Mile Run

Here's what Event 6 entails:

  • What you do throughout the event: Run two miles on a level, indoor or outdoor track or course.
  • What is evaluated: How long it takes you to finish the run.
  • Points awarded: 60 points for a period of 23:13 minutes for women and 22 minutes for men, 100 for a time of 15 minutes for women, and 13:31 minutes for men.
  • What it simulates: An infiltration, a ruck march, and dismounted movement.
  • How to train: Your ACFT training program should begin with walking and progress to a two-mile walk. When you can do this, start alternating walking and running periods, progressively increasing the running parts until you can cover two miles.

Cool Down

A person doing cool down stretches outside

Remember to cool down once you've finished your ACFT workouts. Take your time walking around, gradually reducing your heart rate.

You may stretch any muscle group with a stretch strap or integrate army cool-down exercises or recovery techniques into your practice.

Army Physical Fitness Test cool-down stretches include the extend and flex, overhead arm pull, single leg over, back lunge, and thigh stretch.

Tips for ACFT Exercises

If you plan on doing an ACFT routine, here are few tips we believe will help you make the most of your training.

  • Begin by performing the individual events while developing your ACFT exercise fitness regimen. Then practice them sequentially, one after another.
  • Start with less resistance or weight and progressively increase as your strength grows.
  • Learn more about the US Army's website for current data.
  • Check out the ACFT Scoring Scales for comparing your army CFT scores.
  • Watch the US Army videos that will teach you more about ACFT preparation.
  • You'll need a greater minimum fitness test score once you're a reserve or an active member, so keep in shape.

Learn more: Marine Workout Routine: Battle-Ready Fitness

FAQs

What Are the 6 Events for the Army Combat Fitness Test?

The six events for the army combat fitness test are 3 repetitive maximum deadlifts, a standing power throw, hand-release push-ups, sprint-drag-carry, plank (in place of leg tuck), and a two-mile run.

What Three Exercises Are Performed for the Army Physical Fitness Test?

The three exercises for the army physical fitness test are two-minute sit-ups, two-minute push-ups, and a timed two-mile run.

How Do You Build Combat Fitness?

You build combat fitness by combining calisthenics and weight training, followed by various cardio options. This standard strategy begins with muscular stamina and lower and upper body endurance exercises, progresses to weights for power and strength, and concludes with various cardio activities emphasizing aerobic endurance, speed, and agility.

What Is a Good Score on the Army Combat Fitness Test?

A score of 70 is a good score for the ACFT. A minimum score of 70 is for soldiers in "heavy" physically demanding units or jobs; 65 is for soldiers in "significant" physically demanding units or jobs; and 60 for soldiers in "moderate" physically demanding units or jobs. A 60 is also the overall Army standard for passing the ACFT.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10045466/
  2. https://www.army.mil/article/244220/
  3. https://www.army.mil/acft/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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