FORT BLISS, Texas -- Major Timothy Cox, the executive officer for the 22nd Chemical Battalion, set a new standard by obtaining a 600 -- the highest score ever recorded -- on the Army Combat Fitness Test.

Back in December 2018, Cox took the ACFT for the first time and earned a 587, but he wasn't satisfied with that score. After the test, he wrote down 600 on a white board in his office, setting a personal goal for himself. In January he began training for the next time he would have to take the ACFT. He improved his score to 595 then 598, until finally he hit 600 in mid-July.

To train he utilized the strength coaches from the holistic health and fitness team and the training facility within the battalion. The H2F Lite is a pilot program being initiated in certain battalions across the Army. The gold standard battalions are given the full team of health professionals, which include a physical therapist, nutritionist and sports trainers to boost readiness, considering the ACFT will be implemented this upcoming fiscal year.

His training didn't stop when PT was over -- in his free time he did extra training. On the weekends you could find Cox doing 400 or 600-meter repeats on a track to maintain the speed he wanted on the test and Tabata push-ups to increase his reps of hand release push up, which in his opinion, is the most difficult part of the ACFT. Exercise is only one part of being a full athlete, diet is integral.

Cox says "I do very minimal meal prep, nor do I count carbs."

He explains his diet isn't anything extreme. He rarely eats fast food or drinks containing large amounts of sugar, and most of the time he eats home-cooked meals provided by his wife, which he credits for pushing him to eat clean.

"My physical readiness has been an asset to me. [It] has helped and assisted me. I'm not oblivious to that," said Cox. "Being physically ready is a priority for me, and for us here in the Guardian Battalion, and we fully embrace it."

Cox believes that physical readiness is very important, this is the same mentality he has had his entire life.

Growing up in a small town in Kansas, his childhood was dominated by sports. The days were long and filled with hard work, which involved lifting sessions in the morning, honing basketball skills, and improving athleticism through track and field. He competed in both sports at the Division II-level when he attended McPherson College.

Cox put his physical readiness to the test a couple of times in his Army career, long before taking and maxing the ACFT, by competing in the Best Ranger Competition twice -- in 2011 and 2017.

"There is going to be a culture change in the Army," said Cox. "I think it has been a long time coming and I am excited."

He wants Soldiers who might be worried about the new test to "embrace the change, because like it or not, it's coming." He tells Soldiers who might not know where to begin training for the ACFT to empower themselves by doing research, such as checking out training apps and conducting a self-assessment to see where they are physically to be prepared for the ACFT. Cox's focus was mainly geared toward strengthening his core, legs and grip. He encourages Soldiers to start with those three areas.

After earning a perfect score, Cox said he feels a sense of accomplishment.

"We did it," he said. "I say 'we,' because the effort wasn't just me out there on the grind, that was only part of it, I give credit to the Soldiers, NCOs, and officers of the Guardian Battalion, because they were the ones that pushed me each and everyday during PT sessions. Also, I wanted to highlight the fact that we are one of the gold standard test battalions for the H2F Lite program. Because of this, we were provided with health and physical fitness professionals, two strength coaches, along with a physical therapist, and a certified athletic trainer."

He continued, "These individuals I want to personally thank. Due to their dedication to our program we have seen positive results in many measurable areas. We are grateful because our H2F professionals are passionate about our program and you can see a difference in performance and morale."