HONOLULU, Hawaii – Adapt and overcome, are one of the many mantras that are familiar to Soldiers within the U.S. Army. From the time they enter the Army, they are taught things can, do and always change. From the uniform they wear, their daily operations, to deployments. In recent years, one of the biggest changes has been the transition from the Army Physical Fitness Test, to the Army Combat Fitness Test.
While the majority of Soldiers have grown accustomed to the standards of the APFT, they have already begun to adjust to the rigorous physical demands of the ACFT. With new demands on the battlefield, come new demands in the way Soldiers train in preparation for the battlefield.
For Soldiers that are entering Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training, the ACFT has already been implemented, which better prepares Soldiers prior to their arrival to their first unit.
“I believe that Soldiers just coming into the Army are at an advantage because for those nine weeks of basic and x amount of weeks for AIT, physical training is designed for the ACFT,” said Pvt. Jason Krar, an Air Defense Battle Management System Operator assigned to the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. “The physical training and preparation is why I think that new Soldiers in the Army have the edge with the ACFT.”
Soldiers who are just now entering the Army will have an effortless transition to the ACFT since it was indoctrinated within them from the beginning of their career. This transition may not be as smooth for the Soldiers who were introduced to APFT at the beginning of their career for many reasons.
The APFT was composed of three events: Push-Ups, Sit-Ups and a Two Mile Run. After taking the APFT for so many years, for many Soldiers it had become muscle memory, which may have made it easier for them. Going from that to a six event fitness test is a major change. The ACFT requires more time, equipment, personnel, an approved location and more preparation.
Although there have been a lot of changes to physical fitness in the Army, many units have begun transitioning to prepare Soldiers for the ACFT well in advance. In order to help Soldiers transition and prepare for the ACFT, many units across have put people in place exactly for this task.
In many units across the Army, there is a Master Fitness Trainer that ensures a unit’s physical readiness and can address any questions, comments, or concerns regarding Physical Readiness Training. MFT’s have played an important role in the transition from the APFT to the ACFT and has a greater level of understanding for the necessity of the ACFT.
“The ACFT gives us a better benchmark to gauge a Soldiers’ muscular strength and endurance,” stated Sgt. 1st Class Robert Whilden, a Patriot Fire Control Enhanced Operator and Master Fitness Trainer for the 94th AAMDC. “It targets specific muscle groups while coupling with anaerobic exercises.”
The ultimate goal of the ACFT is to better prepare Soldiers to be able to perform strenuous task whether they are at their home station or abroad; Readiness is key.
“This fitness test will help increase readiness, all of the events have been based off common Soldier’s skills and tasks,” Whilden stated. “Prior to this point, we have individuals who could not provide immediate care by dragging a Soldier to safety.”
The ACFT is broken down into six events: Three Repetition Maximum Deadlift, Standing Power Throw, Hand Release Push-Up-Arm Extension, Sprint-Drag-Carry, Leg Tuck and Two Mile Run.
According to Army.mil/acft, the deadlift simulates picking up heavy equipment and moving a casualty. The Standing power throw simulates throwing something over an obstacle and lifting up another Soldier to maneuver over an obstacle. The Hand Release Push-Up-Arm Extension shows a Soldiers ability to move an obstacle as well as moving an opponent during hand to hand combat.
The Sprint-Drag-Carry simulates carrying ammo cans to a fighting position and moving a casualty to safety. The Leg Tuck shows a Soldiers ability to mount something or to pull themselves up to an obstacle. The Two Mile Run demonstrates a Soldiers endurance during any kind of movement as described by Army.mil/acft.
Every event in the ACFT is proven to be very useful in more than one way. It keeps Soldiers in accordance with Army Regulation 670-1, which covers physical appearance, but it also prepares Soldiers for the ever-changing battlefield.
“There is no better way to figure out whether a Soldier can pick up another Soldier; then by making them do it during the 3-Repition Maximum Deadlift,” Whilden remarked. “The ACFT mirrors the basic soldier skills that are required to perform missions and to maintain on the battlefield.”