By Lisa HunterOctober 30, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - A Missile Defense Agency Soldier was the first at Redstone Arsenal to take the Army Combat Fitness Test for record, Oct. 4.
Maj. Bart Brimhall, the deputy Product Manager for Missile Field Development, was the first to be graded on the ACFT by Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, scoring a total score of 553 points out of a possible 600.
The ACFT gauges Soldiers on the 10 components of physical fitness: muscular strength and endurance, power, speed, agility, aerobic endurance, balance, flexibility, coordination and reaction time. The current test only measures two: muscular and aerobic endurance. The six-event, gender- and age-neutral ACFT will become the test of record for all Soldiers starting in October 2020. The test retains the two-mile run event from the current Army Physical Fitness test, but includes five new events intended to provide a broad measurement of a Soldier's physical fitness. The new events are:
The strength deadlift: With a proposed weight range of 120 to 420 pounds, Soldiers perform a three-repetition maximum deadlift with increasing weights. The event replicates picking up ammunition boxes, a wounded battle buddy, supplies or other heavy equipment.
The standing power throw: Soldiers toss a 10-pound ball backward as far as possible to test muscular explosive power that may be needed to lift themselves or a fellow Soldier up over an obstacle or to move rapidly across uneven terrain.
The hand-release pushups: In this event, Soldiers start in the prone position and do 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 allows for additional upper body muscles to be exercised.
The sprint/drag/carry: 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 can simulate pulling a battle buddy out of harm's way, moving quickly to take cover, or carrying ammunition to a fighting position or vehicle.
The leg tuck: Similar to a pullup, 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.
Brimhall, an avid cross-fitter and functional fitness enthusiast, did not train specifically for the ACFT. In fact, he said he didn't know the standard for the new hand-release pushup event. Nonetheless, he lifted 350 pounds on the dead lift, for a perfect score of 100 points. He also three the 10-pound ball 13.8 meters for a perfect score of 100.
"The ACFT was much more challenging than I expected and I am pleased [with the test] as a Soldier and a leader," Brimhall said. "The ACFT seems it will be a much better tool to measure physical fitness as it requires much more effort than the outdated APFT and it is better nested with Army imperatives to train as you fight. It's much tougher and more realistic to the type of endurance and high intensity which may be needed in combat. I believe [some] Soldiers will have to increase their joint mobility, flexibility, precision, accuracy, stamina and endurance to score well."