RICHMOND, Va. –
Starting in October, the Army Combat Fitness Test becomes the U.S. Army’s official physical fitness test of record for certain Soldiers. It’s a big change from the Army Physical Fitness Test so we rounded up some of the most-asked questions concerning the ACFT and took them to the experts, Capt. Brian Harder, a physical therapist in the Virginia National Guard and the regional Holistic Health and Fitness lead, and Master Sgt. Ramon Abreu-Perez, the Virginia National Guard’s Holistic Health and Fitness project officer and Master Fitness Trainer coordinator.
Army Combat Fitness Test Frequently Asked Questions
When will the ACFT be counted for record?
Starting April 1, 2022, all Soldiers have had the change to take a diagnostic ACFT to familiarize themselves with the test and the new scoring scale. When the test may be counted for record depends on your status:
- Regular Army and Active/Guard Reserve Soldiers will take a diagnostic ACFT between April 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2022, and will be required to take a record ACFT after Oct. 1, 2022 and before April 1, 2023. Record ACFT scores will be used for administrative actions for these Soldiers starting Oct. 1, 2022.
- Reserve component Soldiers, including National Guard Soldiers, will take a diagnostic ACFT between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023, and will be required to take a record ACFT after April 1, 2023, and before April 1, 2024. Record ACFT scores will be used for administrative actions for these Soldiers starting April 1, 2023.
For all Soldiers, regardless of component, the ACFT will be a requirement for all Professional Military Education starting Oct. 1, 2022.
What’s different with the latest version of the ACFT compared to one I might have taken last year or even earlier?
As of April 1, 2022, the ACFT includes performance-normed scoring standards, scaled to both age and gender. Additionally, the plank is now the only core-strength event and the 2.5-mile walk was added as an alternate aerobic event.
Why the ACFT? It’s so much more complicated compared to the APFT.
The six events in the ACFT are very different from just doing two minutes of push-ups, sit-ups and a 2-mile run. But, there’s a method and reason behind to all of it. Our bodies have three energy systems we use for activities in life and the ACFT test how well all three of them are working. Additionally, for muscle capacity, or strength, we have three sections as well: absolute or max strength, power and endurance. Again, the ACFT evaluates each of these as well. Finally, the ACFT tests recovery time. As warriors, our bodies must be able to reset and be ready for the next activity, especially when preparing for combat roles, and the ACFT looks at recovery between different maximum effort events. As an added bonus, due to the more comprehensive nature of the ACFT, it’s a better gauge of any specific deficits you might have that can help you train smarter.
What is the latest guidance on ACFT OIC, NCOIC and grader validation and training?
Per ATP 7-22.01, “the success of any physical fitness testing program depends on obtaining valid and accurate test results. Therefore, leaders must administer the ACFT to standard to accurately evaluate individual Soldier and unit physical readiness.”
Each unit is responsible for establishing a continuous training program to maintain adequate knowledge of the test standards. Training can be conducted either in person with classroom and hands-on training, online via the ACFT Validation DL Training (milsuite.mil)
or through a combination of both.
Why do we have to run two miles? Isn’t it enough that we run during the Sprint-Drag-Carry?
The two-mile run, or 2MR, provides a solid picture of a Soldier’s aerobic endurance, which is why it is still part of the test. Conducting sprints during an event like SDC does not test aerobic endurance as it does not require sustained effort for more than a few minutes.
Additional Background: During the creation of the ACFT, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine conducted extensive physical demands studies to determine the reliability of simulated physical soldiering tasks relevant to combat arms Soldiers. Studies showed that muscular strength and power drove 60 percent of the variability in physical demands, which means endurance-centric approaches to training and testing did not support all the baseline requirements needed for being a Soldier. The other 40 percent is driven by other three domains: muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance and aerobic endurance.
More about aerobic endurance: Oxygen is needed for our bodies to generate energy during the oxidative phosphorylation energy pathway. Aerobic endurance refers to the ability to perform low to moderate intensity activities usually lasting for more than 3 minutes. Improving our aerobic endurance is related to our body’s ability to effectively utilize oxygen to generate energy. As we become fitter, we can utilize higher percentages of oxygen thus increasing the duration and quality of our aerobic activities.
In an operational context, improving our aerobic endurance has a direct correlation on how well we perform in activities such as ruck marching, long range movements and other warrior and occupationally-demanding tasks.
More resources for improving your running:
I already have a profile, why do I need it updated?
As the events in the ACFT test specific components of strength, flexibility, endurance and more, profiles need to be updated specific to the test’s events and not just the upper or lower body. Getting your profile updated before the ACFT becomes the test of record is essential in order to sure everyone is on the same page and Soldiers are only doing the events they can safely conduct.
It seems like people are getting hurt taking the ACFT. Shouldn’t this be looking into further?
It is not the ACFT that’s causing injuries, it is just an inanimate test that highlights areas of weakness or deficit that Soldiers have. The ACFT is a performance test that shows if all areas of your health are working together, which goes beyond just physical health. Did you get quality sleep the night before the ACFT? How are you fueling your body? Are you mentally prepared for the rigors of the test? If these other areas are not at optimal performance, it will show, even if you are working out regularly. Additionally, an unbalanced fitness program that doesn’t work to test and improve all components will show as well.
Finally, don’t let your ego get in the way. If you haven’t prepared for the ACFT the way you should, don’t try to keep up with the person in front of you who is maxing out on the 3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift, or MDL. Knowing your body and what you are capable of in the moment will help you prevent injuries.
What’s the reference for Holistic Health and Fitness and tests like the ACFT?
FM 7-22: Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) and ATP 7-22.01: H2F Testing.
The H2F System is the U.S. Army’s primary investment in Soldier readiness and lethality, optimal physical and non-physical performance, reduced injury rates, improved rehabilitation after injury and increased overall effectiveness of the Total Army. The system empowers and equips Soldiers to take charge of their health, fitness and well-being in order to optimize individual performance, while preventing injury and disease.
Where can I go for the latest updates to the ACFT?
The U.S. Army’s ACFT microsite: https://www.army.mil/acft/