Are you worried about the New Army Combat Fitness Test? Were you one of those who were barely passing the old test (muscle stamina and endurance) each 6 month cycle? OR are you a new recruit and all of this change of PT tests news to you?
If so, you need to get into the weight room and not only build your muscle stamina and cardio endurance, BUT now you need to add strength, power, speed and agility, and grip strength. You still have to do a 2 mile run and pushups (sort of) so maintaining those numbers while building the other elements of fitness takes practice IF you want to pass.
In 2020, the Army is moving toward a functional fitness test that mimics many of the movements and elements of fitness used in the performance of typical Army soldiers on duty. The new Army Combat Fitness Test will soon replace the Army PFT. But do not say bye completely to the old test, as many recruiter and officer candidates will still be taking this test prior to joining for the foreseeable future.
You will also have to take the Occupational Physical Assessment Test at BCT in order to place you in the appropriate MOS. The more fit you are the more challenging jobs you can enter (Infantry, Artillery, Ranger, SF, etc).
Prepare for the OPAT and ACRT
You will also take the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) soon into your career. The better you score on this test, the tougher (physically) job, or MOS, you will be eligible to join. Consider this like the physical ASVAB test. This new test has the following events:
Army Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT)
Standing broad jump – at least body height
Throw medicine ball –seated chest press throw (4.4 lb ball)
Dead lift (Trap Bar)
120lbs working up to 220 lbs in 5 sequence lifts
Beep Test (app)
20yd shuttle runs distance on the progressive timed beep
The Army Combat Readiness Test - Also, there is discussion of implementing a new PFT that still requires core strength, a new type of pushup, and still a 2 mile run for cardio endurance. The difference is the new exercises in the following chart:
Army Combat Readiness Test (2019)
Trap Bar Dead Lift
1-2 times bodyweight (1-5 reps)
Hand Release Pushups
Pushup – but in down position lift hands off ground - max 2 minutes
Hanging Knee ups from pullup bar, bring knees to elbow (alternating grip)
Standing Power Throw
Throw medicine ball over head (backwards) as far as you can
All events are 25 meters out and back for time: (1) sprint, (2) 100-pound sled drag, (3) sprint, (4) two 40-pound kettlebell carry, and (5) sprint.
2 mile timed run
Still have to run – 2 miles fast pace
But you should also start to prepare for Army basic and following advanced training where you will carry a back pack (ruck) with 40-80+ lbs loaded in it for some events. If you are one day thinking of Ranger school or SF training, you DEFINITELY need to prepare the body for the advanced level PFT scores as well as miles and miles of running and rucking.
Tips For Testing Elements of Multiple Tests (APFT, ACFT, OPAT)
Pushups - Placing your hands in the wrong position can seriously affect your maximum score. A perfect location for your hands is just outside shoulder width. This position enables the chest, shoulders and triceps to be equally taxed. Keep hands at shoulder height when in the up position. Your pushups will be weakened if your hands are too low, wide, close or high. (APFT)
Hand-Release Pushups – Same as above, but add the upper back exercise Reverse Pushups into the repetition. Exert on the UP position and let gravity take you down to the ground – then flex the upper back to lift hands off the floor and move them outward a in the directions of a T with your body. (ACRT)
Seated Ball Throw – Throw the medicine with a chest pass. To develop power, practice this event on pushup days. Add in some bench presses to help build chest / shoulder / arm strength. (OPAT)
Sit-ups - Though they are not tested once you are in the Army, you will likely still have to take this easy to administer test with your recruiter, ROTC unit, or other Army accession program. This is an exercise you need to pace. Most people burn out in the first 30 seconds with 30 sit-ups accomplished, only able to perform another 20 or so situps within the next 1:30. By setting a pace at, for instance, 20 situps every 30 seconds, you can turn your score of 50-60 to 80 with very little effort. (APFT)
Leg Tuck – Replacing the situps is the leg tuck. Start practicing now! Hanging knee ups should be added to your pullup sets. Even though pullups are not tested yet, they will be in advanced Army programs such as Airborne, Rangers, and Special Forces. In this program, pullups are done on upper body days. Now just add 10-15 knee ups after pullups. Grip and core work are critical to this one. (ACFT)
Dead Lift – Practice dead lifting. Lift with the legs, hips, with a straight back. If you do not have a trap bar, use a barbell. This exercise is critical for your Army career as it prepares your body to be strong for common lifts and movements. Not just for proper form to lift objects off the ground, rucking strength development, but now for this test in both the OPAT and the ACFT.
Long Jump – Squats and lunges will help you with this exercise, but you need to practice the explosive power of the jump to maximize your test. Practice this extra exercise on leg days to maintain a solid performance on this OPAT test.
Beep Test (shuttle run) – On a basketball court or field, run back and forth on a set pace that increases each set. Start off easy as a warmup for the first few sets, pick up the pace so you have a few seconds to breathe and catch your breath. Eventually the rest periods will decrease so your cardio conditioning needs to be strong to score well on this. You only get that if you practice the BEEP TEST. Do it on leg days or as a cardio day warmup. (OPAT)
250-meter Sprint/Drag/Carry - All events are 25 meters out and back for time: (1) sprint, (2) 100-pound sled drag, (3) sprint, (4) two 40-pound kettlebell carry, and (5) sprint. Practice sprinting 25m, running with 2 x 40lb weights, and dragging a sled for 50m sets. The leg work in this workout will prepare you for this but specifically adding this to a leg day is a smart practice. (ACFT)
Two Mile Timed run - PACE - The most important thing is to not start off too fast. Learn your pace and set your goal by pacing yourself to the finish. For instance, if your goal is to run the 2 mile run in 14:00, you must run a 7:00 mile or a 1:45 - 1/4 mile. (APFT and ACFT)
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