FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Aug. 31, 2018) -- If you were to stumble into the 75th Field Artillery Brigade footprint near Rowe Field during the early morning physical training (PT) hours, you'd probably notice a few Soldiers crunching their legs up on pull-up bars, some Soldiers sprinting while carrying heavy weights or a fellow comrade, or even some conducting hand-release push-ups.

With the new changes to the Army's current physical readiness test approaching us, more and more Soldiers across the Diamond Brigade are preparing for the expected increase in rigorousness and elevation of the standard.

The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is expected to replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test by the beginning of October 2020.

The new test will be gender and age neutral, and will be comprised of six events. The current three events of APFT will be replaced with:

Deadlift
Soldiers will lift between 120 and 420 pounds, depending on the individual soldier. Soldiers must do three reps in five minutes.

Standing Power Throw
Soldiers will be required to toss a 10-pound medicine ball overhead and backward within three minutes to make one practice throw and two for a grade. The longest distance will be recorded.

Hand-Release Push-Ups
Soldiers will lower their chests to the floor and lift their hands off the ground between each rep. They'll be required to do the most reps possible in three minutes.

Sprint-Drag-Carry
Soldiers will have four minutes to run 25 meters out and 25 meters back five times.
Each iteration will include a different activity: sprint, drag a sled, run a lateral shuffle, carry two 40-pound kettle bells, then sprint again.

Leg Tuck
Soldiers will be required to hang from a pull-up bar and with their body parallel, and then pull their knees to their elbows for as many reps as possible in two minutes.

Two-Mile Run
Soldiers will run on a track or a paved, level road, with a 20-minute maximum.
The ACFT will have breaks in between each workout and will also have different standards beyond the baseline depending on a Soldier's military occupational specialty and the type of unit.

The Army physical readiness requirements will be getting its first large-scale change since its release in the 1980s.

Some are worried about the challenges associated with the increase in the difficulty level as well as the number of events. Others say it's about time.

Among those Soldiers was Staff Sgt. Fernando Cosmenegron, a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) crewmember from B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery.

Cosmenegron, who said the current physical readiness program was due for a change, has been working with his section to prepare for the new PT test since the beginning of the year.

"We've implemented more sprints with workouts in between, into our exercises," Cosmenegron said.
Cosmenegron said his unit also does more leg exercises like squats, weighted deadlifts, Soldier-drags, lunges, and the Power Jump.

The new PT test requires more core and leg muscular strength than the current one.

While Soldiers in B/2-18th FA work toward their leg and core strength goals, Pfc. Destiny Gomez, a Signal Support Systems specialist from 258th Network Support Company, 100th Brigade Support Battalion, works hard to improve her abilities on the pull-up bar.

The new ACFT doesn't specifically require pull-ups; however, it does include the leg-lift exercise as a graded event.

Because Gomez struggles with lifting herself up on her own in order to do several leg-lifts, her unit works with and encourages her to get better.

"My NCO asked me what I felt I needed help with, and he allowed me to focus specifically on the areas that are most challenging for me," Gomez said.

Gomez said her unit has always been big on weight-lifting, even before they heard about the upcoming changes to the Army PT test.

One thing she said she appreciates most is that her leaders from her section, sergeant to her battalion commander, all support the Soldiers in the unit toward reaching their fitness goals and pushing themselves to be ready to meet and exceed any fitness test the Army comes up with.

"One day even the BC and sergeant major joined our battery in PT," Gomez said.

Gomez said it's the support of her leaders that makes her want to push hard to be ready for the new physical fitness requirements.

On the other side of Rowe Field you can find Spc. Andre Lias, a human resource specialist from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery, working on his upper body strength with his platoon in the mornings.

His unit has already begun implementing the release push-ups and heavier weight-lifting into their muscular strength and endurance PT sessions.

Lias said he likes the idea of the new ACFT because it is gender-neutral and he thinks it is modernized and geared toward the fitness requirements and demands of today's Soldiers.

"[The gender neutrality] helps debunk the myth that the Army fitness test is more lenient on females in terms of standards and requirements," Lias said.

According to Lias, the ACFT is more combat focused, with events like the Sprint-Drag-Carry simulating what it might take to assist in getting a casualty out of a hostile environment.

"It's about time the Army updated to a fitness test that is more applicable to combat readiness," Lias said. "As Soldiers, we should always be ready for change."