The Army Combat Fitness Test, or ACFT, has changed the way soldiers look at PT. I have seen some of my soldiers with the best APFT scores (old PT test) get their butt handed to them by the ACFT. The biggest areas of opportunity were the sprint, drag, carry and the two-mile run after doing all the other events. We’re going to review some tips and exercises to incorporate into your routine to help you smash through weak points, no gym required. We will not discuss standards.
Maximum Dead Lift (MDL)
The first event is the 3-rep maximum deadlift. This is really the only event that will be easier to train for if you have gym access. But we’re talking about no gym access. SO! The hot tip here is shoot for what you know you can lift and then use your second attempt for a higher score. If you don’t know or aren’t confident, hit the 140 lane and get your “GO”.
Standing Power Throw (SPT)
Up next is the standing power throw. The easiest way to ensure a pass is to jump when you throw the ball. The tip though is to take a step away from the fault line instead of abutting your heels to it. If I’m gigging someone on this event it’s because they got as close to the line as they could and then jumped back over the line, that’s a “NO-GO”.
Hand Release Push-up (HRP)
The hand release push up gets some people because they don’t pay attention when the standards are briefed. Some commands will have you extend your arms and lock them out, others are OK with you just lifting your hands off the ground. I have two tips here. One, pay attention to the brief. Two, push in cadence. I like to count my movements while doing them to make sure I’m keeping a consistent pace.
The Sprint-Drag-Carry. A lot of people hate this event, specifically the drag. The only helpful tip I have for the SDC is to train, which we’ll get to shortly.
The event that replaced the knee tuck, which is great! This is the easiest event in the test. The best way to plank longer is to tighten up your core and focus on your breathing. Tighten up properly by clenching your butt, this will give your hip flexors some relief and let those beefy muscles back there take on some of the work. Breath in rhythm. When the plank becomes painful, slow your breathing and breath in through your nose and slowly out of your mouth. This will naturally relax you and make the event easier.
Two-Mile Run (2MR)
Treat the run just like any other race. Take your time in the beginning to get your rhythm. After about a quarter mile or so, pick it up to your race pace and continue. DO NOT WALK. This is what gets everyone, they start getting a little tired and just bail out. Don’t do that.
Exercises to help you beat the test and improve your scores
Ok there’s no need to make this more complicated that it needs to be. Two things to consider about the ACFT. A lot of these events are power driven. So naturally we’re going to want to increase power. Here are the exercises that will help you improve your ACFT score and what exercises they relate to:
Jump Squats – All events
Air Squats – All events
Plank – PLK, SPT, PLK
Sprints – SPT, SDG
Fartlek runs – 2MR, SDG (Fartlek runs are 30/60’s So run for 30 seconds, walk for 60 seconds, rinse and repeat)
Pushups – HRP, PLANK
Here’s how to program them, I recommend doing a set of each back-to-back. So:
Exercise one – 1 set, Exercise two – one set, Exercise three – one set, and then back to the first exercise for the second set.
Day 1: (Workout A)
Air Squats – 50 reps for time.
Plank – 30 second rep, 5 sets.
Sprits – 50m sprint, 5 sets.
Day 2: (Workout B)
Squat Jumps – 50 reps for time
Push-ups – 50 reps for time
Fartlek run – 20 minutes
Day 3: Normal exercise routine
Day 4: (Workout A)
Day 5: (Workout B)
Day 6 and 7: Normal exercise routine
Complete these workouts as fast as possible and try to beat your previous times.
These exercise blocks can be used before hitting the weights, just make sure you’re hitting them twice a week when the ACFT is coming up. They will compliment just about any training program that you’re on, but more importantly, you won’t fail your PT test and have your Sgt chewing you out.
Do not start any diet or exercise plan without first consulting with your physician! Let your doctor know about any drugs or supplements you are using and what the plan consists of.
This content is meant to be informative and should not be considered medical advice.
Written for Stoked American Fitness.