ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — An Army major from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear — or CBRNE — Command aced the new Army Combat Fitness Test.
Maj. Charles D. Foster, the 20th CBRNE Command Knowledge Management chief, earned the maximum score of 600 points during the test on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
The Army Combat Fitness Test features a dead lift, standing power throw, hand release push-ups with arm extensions, a sprint-drag-carry event, plank exercise and a two-mile run.
Foster said his keys to success were conducting exercise outside the Army's Physical Readiness Training program and maintaining a healthy meal plan.
He targeted specific muscle groups in the gym in preparation for the ACFT events. He used leg presses and deadlifts to prepare for the deadlift event and he practiced hand-release push-ups with arm extensions and bench presses with a resistance band.
For the sprint-drag-carry event, Foster did sprints and lateral shuffles, gradually increasing his speed as much as possible. He also pulled a weight sled to practice the dragging portion. For the plank, he worked his way up with 30-second increments five times a week and continued to increase the time. Foster also did abdominal endurance exercises with crunches, leg lifts, weighed side bends and lower back extensions.
“The standing power throw was originally my weakest event, so conducting shoulder press exercises, power jumping and practicing the standing power throw with a 15-pound medicine ball contributed to my success,” said Foster.
For the run, Foster focused on increasing his cardiorespiratory endurance with running on a treadmill set at a 1.5 to 2 incline three days a week. He also jumped rope, cycled and used the stair climber to improve his endurance.
“Although there's no perfect formula for maxing each event, having a consistent exercise regimen will help individuals get closer to their goals,” said Foster.
A 19-year U.S. Army veteran who was commissioned through the Green-to-Gold Program, Foster has deployed to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. He served as an enlisted Human Resources Specialist before he was commissioned as an Information Systems Engineer.
Foster currently leads the Knowledge Management section for the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered 20th CBRNE Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all hazards formation.
The multifunctional command is home to 75 percent of the active-duty Army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) specialists and Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity, five Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams and three Nuclear Disablement Teams.
Foster has participated in numerous fitness challenges, including the U.S. Army 10-Miler, Spartan Race, Terrance Race and Tough Mudder.
He said the new Army Combat Fitness Program is a better way of measuring a Soldier’s physical fitness than the previous test.
“I believe the ACFT is a significant improvement from the APFT because it depicts the overall fitness of a Soldier,” said Foster. “As a certified personal trainer, I train my clients to do more than focus on muscular strength and endurance. Instead, I incorporate power, speed, aerobic capacity, agility, balance and coordination into their workout programs. Assessing these elements and more are actual variables of an individual's fitness capabilities. The ACFT is an excellent way to evaluate a Soldier's physical readiness.”
Foster said Soldiers should take a holistic approach to physical fitness to prepare for the test. In addition to maintaining the right body weight, he also recommended Soldiers invest in at-home training equipment like kettlebells, a yoga mat and a medicine ball.
“These simple exercise tools can facilitate much of what you need to prepare for the ACFT right at home,” said Foster, who is originally from West Point, Mississippi. “I believe fitness improves the overall quality of life, so I encourage everyone to find a physical challenge that may contribute to one's chances of maxing the ACFT.”
Col. John P. Kunstbeck, the 20th CBRNE Command chief of staff, said Foster exemplifies the command’s commitment to fielding physically fit, disciplined and cohesive units ready to support joint, interagency and allied operations around the world.
“With his commitment to excellence, Major Foster sets the pace in this command. He can always be found ready to train, mentor and motivate Soldiers to be their best,” said Kunstbeck, a Nuclear and Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction officer from Altoona, Pennsylvania, who scored 585 on the ACFT. “Our Soldiers have to be physically fit at all times to accomplish our high stakes missions.”