ACFT Training Plan for the Army Combat Fitness Test

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Imagine if a personal trainer with 28 certifications and a decade of experience in CrossFit, Mobility, and Personal Training built a training plan to help you pass the ACFT.  Imagine you can hire him one-on-one to train you?  What if that same coach poured over 80 hours into reviewing all aspects of the ACFT, and custom-prepared a workout plan designed to help you pass.  Well imagine no more, because our ACFT Training Plan and Training Program is available now.

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Army Combat Fitness Test

Our ACFT Training Program has been featured in over 120 newspapers, radio stations, and online news providers.  View media coverage.

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Paul Roberts. Owner.
Sand and Steel Fitness

Improve your score on the Army Combat Fitness Test.  This comprehensive guide examines the ACFT from every angle.  It provides expert tips to helps on how to train to pass the test.  It evaluates the Army’s current preparation and shows you where the weaknesses are.  This article explains how to do the most helpful exercises for each event.  Plus we describe in detail everything everything you might want to know about the test, based the actual military documents themselves and meeting with Army test instructors.

Hello, I’m Paul, and I’m going to be your guide through understanding and acing the ACFT test.  As part of my research, I wrote a comprehensive training plan to help soldiers significantly improve their score on the test.  My program is especially geared for women  in the 45-60 age range who may have trouble with some of the strength exercises on the test.   As a company, Sand and Steel Fitness has been preparing members for fitness tests such as the FLETC, DEA, FBI, and local fire and police tests for over a decade.  We will test you under the same conditions, find your weaknesses, and develop a custom variation of our template training plan so that you can do your best on the exam.

Many Personal Trainers can say they will help you pass the ACFT.  I spent 80+ hours studying the Army regs, wrote a 9000-word article, and invested over $10,000 in specialized equipment to help you succeed.  I’m committed to your success, and I’m going to do everything I can to help you pass.

– Paul Roberts

Beyond the Army.  While ACFT is an Army test, our training plan and the advice we are going to provide in our upcoming workshop is helpful for all soldiers & civilians.  Everyone should know to do a hex deadlift, hand release pushups, and how to run efficiently.  More importantly, we are also going to teach you how to fix any power and mobility deficits you may have for these exercises.

What Do I Get When I Purchase the ACFT Plan?

You get access to a google document (view only) which contains the actual plan that I (Paul Roberts) am using with my clients.  This is my real, full workout plan for all Army Soldiers preparing for the ACFT.  It’s updated in real time, and all updates are included with your purchase.

Can I see a Sample of the ACFT Plan?

Sure, here are the first two workouts in our program.  Currently (as of the date I am publishing this article), there are 15 workouts in the plan.  The workouts are designed to be done 4 times, providing you with a 60 day training plan.

ACFT Day 1

  • 5 x 5 Sumo Deadlift
  • 21/15/9 Medball Clean & Burpees 14#/10# complete in under 8 minutes
  • Shoulder Flexion Mobility: e.g. Cow Pose, Janu Sirsasana, Bandha Konasana

ACFT Day 2

For Time:

  • 160FT AG Walk
  • 10 Chinups
  • 240FT AG Walk
  • 14 Chinups
  • 320 FT AG Walk
  • 18 Chinups

4 sets:

  • 10 curls (fatbell),
  • 10 Neutral pull down,
  • 10 Outside curls (fatbell),
  • 10 Chin to chest pulldown.

Mobility

  • Spinal Flexion: e.g. Cow Pose, Janu Sirsasana, Bandha Konasana
  • Spine Extension: e.g. Camel Pose, Locust Pose, Seal Pose

What if I Have Questions on How to Do an Exercise?

Join our Facebook Group and ask.  Phone or email support is available for an additional charge.

Do You Have a Military Discount?

Yes, we have a Military Discount, but it applies to virtual training and in-person training only.

Military Discount

For ACFT Prep, is it Better to Just Join as a Member?

Yes it’s way better.  Here’s what our members have to say.

As a Member We Customize the ACFT Training Plan Based on Your Body

  1. We do the test with you under the same conditions you will do the actual test.
  2. We observe your movements during the test to identify potential source of power leakage (e.g. poor technique or poor movement.)
  3. We identify your weaknesses that limit you ability to generate force.
  4. We identify bad movement patterns that cause you future injury.
  5. We custom our ACFT Training Plan around your weaknesses.
  6. We train you under your customized ACFT Training Plan.
  7. We repeat your Army Combat Fitness Test every 16 sessions.  We do this to make sure you are improving in all the events important to you.  We also revise your scaling based on your performance.
  8. COME TO OUR FREE WORKSHOP

 

Army Combat Fitness Test Workshop and Training Plan
I’m putting together a complete workshop to help Army Soldiers (particularly women in their 40s and 50s) pass the ACFT. This Army Fitness Test will have a huge impact on their career. Many feel that their livelihood is being threatened by this new test. In the Army’s defense, the Army gave them plenty of time to get help and prepare for the test. That much is true. I’m donating my time, facility, and expertise to help those soldiers who need help need help, get help from a professional strength & conditioning coach. -Paul Roberts

Our FREE ACFT Workshop and Class Workout Includes:

  • Overview of the ACFT Test.
  • Demonstration of Proper Technique For All Events.
  • Practice Performing All Tests Events with a Coach.
  • Learn the Best Exercises to Improve Testing Score.
  • Class Based ACFT Workout at the End.

Is There Anyway I Can Get a Free ACFT Training Plan?

You can also obtain a free copy of the Army’s training plan FM 7-22 or even get their App.  And if you are just looking for a free resource — those are a great starting place.  But as you will learn — those training systems aren’t keyed to do welling on the test itself.  They are OK in terms of overall fitness — but if you really want to get your best score — you’ll want a dedicated plan to do well on the 6 events.

We understand that fitness affects your status, promotions, respect, and your ability to keep yourself safe.  The value of working with us is that we:

  • Teach you how to move better;
  • Identify where you might get injured before you get injured;
  • We strengthen your weaknesses so you don’t hit plateaus.

Your Sand and Steel Fitness ACFT training plan is customized to you, around your weaknesses, scaled in real-time by our professional coaches.  If you are a rockstar runner, we’ll skip the running portion.  If you a veteran powerlifter, we don’t focus on the MDL.

What About Other Fitness Tests Like FLETC, DEA Fitness Test, or the FBI Fitness Test?

We train professionals for all tests.  For example, we have members we are training for the DEA Physical Task Assessment, FBI Physical Fitness Test, and FLETC Physical Efficiency Battery.1


PAUL’S RESEARCH INTO THE ARMY COMBAT FITNESS TEST

Everything below is a copy of my research into the ACFT.  When I (Paul Roberts) was researching the ACFT, I did so with the end goal of building the best training plan for my members that I could.  You’ll find detailed research on the Army’s Fitness Training system, the Events, scoring, videos, and practically everything you’d want to know about the test.  It’s everything that I needed to write a precision Army Combat Fitness Test Training Plan.

ACFT Events Overview

There are 6 Events:

  1. Hex Deadlift (MDL) – Max weight for 3 consecutive reps.  2 Attempts.  ACFT IOC P13
  2. Standing Power Throw (SPT) – Max distance in meters.  Best out of two attempts.  ACFT IOC P16
  3. Hand Release Pushup (HRP) – Max Pushups for 2 Minutes. ACFT IOC P18
  4. Sprint-Drag-Carry (SDC) – 250M Shuttle Run. ACFT IOC P20
  5. Leg Tuck (LTK) – Maximum Unbroken Reps.  ACFT IOC P22
  6. 2 Mile Run (2MR) – 10 Minute Rest.  Then 2 mile run (on a track)  ACFT IOC P24

Alternative Assessment

What is the Alternative Assessment?  The alternate assessment will include all ACFT events within the limits of the Soldier’s profile.  The alternative assessment must include:

  • 3-Repetition Maximum Deadlift,
  • Sprint-Drag-Carry, and
  • Aerobic event.

What is an aerobic event in the ACFT?

  1. Two-mile run;
  2. 15,000 meter stationary bike (25 minutes);
  3. 5,000 meter row (25 minutes); or
  4. 1,000 meter swim (25 minutes).

Precor, LifeFitness, Monark, Concept 2 are the only available options.  For the bike you can set your own resistance, but cadence (pedal speed) x resistance is used to determine distance.  Probably Work is a better measure.  Of importance to note is the Army gets to decide which alternative event you get to do based on what’s available to you at the time. 2

SSF Aerobic Equipment

Woodway Treadmill; Echo Bike (similar to Concept 2 Bike); Concept 2 Rower; WaterRower (coming soon); Keiser M3I and Ski Erg.  Plenty of options to prepare you for whichever aerobic exercise you may get.

Who qualifies for alternate assessments?

“Army senior leaders have approved a modification of the ACFT that included three aerobic test events for selected Soldiers with permanent profiles that prevent full participation in the 6-event test. The alternate assessment, including the additional aerobic test events, do not apply to Soldiers with temporary profiles. Soldiers on temporary profiles are expected to recondition, retrain, and pass the full six-event ACFT.”

What are the new alternate events?

The alternate assessment will include all ACFT events within the limits of the Soldier’s profile, and must include at a minimum: 3-Repetition Maximum Deadlift, Sprint-Drag-Carry, and one of the four aerobic events: two-mile run, 15,000 meter stationary bike, 5,000 meter row, or 1,000 meter swim. T he time standard for each aerobic event is 25 minutes.

How will grading change for alternate events?

Soldiers with permanent profiles must at a minimum achieve the GOLD level for the 3-Repetition Maximum Deadlift, the Sprint-Drag-Carry and the aerobic event.

ACFT: Warm-up and Preparation

The ACFT is administered 16 soldiers at a time in 16 lanes.  The entire testing process takes about 90 minutes to complete.

ACFT Preparation Drill

See ACFT IOC Chapter 2, Page 1.

So the ACFT preparation drill is what we call a warm-up sequence.  The warm-up is the same for every solider, so it’ll be up to you to make sure you “get warmed-up” those muscles that are harder for you to activate and warm-up.   The Warmup Drills are:

  1. Bend and Reach – 2 Slow Reps
  2. Rear Lunge – 2 Slow Reps
  3. High Jumper – 1 Rep
  4. Rower – 5-10 Reps
  5. Squat Jumper – 5-10 Reps
  6. Windmill – 5-10 Reps
  7. Forward Lunge – 2 Slow Reps
  8. Prone Row – 2 Slow Reps
  9. Bent Leg Body Twist – 2 Slow Reps
  10. Pushups – 2 Slow Reps

ACFT Warmup for the Hex Deadlift

The Army Recommends:

  • 8-10 Reps at 25% Goal Weight
  • 6 Reps at 40% Goal Weight
  • 4 Reps at 50% Goal Weight
  • 1 Rep at 80% Goal Weight

The author doesn’t agree with this warm-up from a performance perspective.  You really won’t hit your true 3 Rep Max with this warmup.  When I am testing a 3 rep max, I don’t have members do one rep at 80%.  I would have preferred to see something like:

  • 5 Reps at 50% Goal Weight
  • 5 Reps at 70% Goal Weight
  • 4 Reps at 80% Goal Weight
  • 3 Reps at 90% Goal Weight

Maybe someone in the Army will read this article and give me a call when they revise the standards. 🙂

Special Equipment for the ACFT – Gloves

You’ll take the ACFT in your standard military gear (Army Fitness Performance Uniform).  You can’t use music players, electronics, or any of your own special gear.  You can wear gloves though.  I don’t recommend wearing gloves — no professional lifters use gloves.  Amateur lifters use gloves, because they overgrip the bar.  Calluses are a normal part of lifting.   If you are concerned about having calluses on your hands… why are you in the Army?  Just saying.

Scoring the ACFT – Army Combat Field Test

This is the official scoring report from the Military.  Elements required to achieve these score are explained in each event below.

ClassificationPointsMDLSPTHRPSDCLTK2MR
Max10034012.5601:332013:30
9912.4591:3613:39
9812.2581:391913:48
9733012.1571:4113:57
9611.9561:431814:06
9511.8551:4514:15
9432011.6541:461714:24
9311.5531:4714:33
9231011.3521:481614:42
9111.2511:4914:51
9030011501:501515:00
8910.9491:5115:09
8829010.7481:521415:18
8710.6471:5315:27
8628010.4461:541315:36
8510.3451:5515:45
8427010.1441:561215:54
8310431:5716:03
822609.8421:581116:12
819.7411:5916:21
802509.5402:001016:30
799.4392:0116:39
782409.2382:02916:48
779.1372:0316:57
762308.9362:04817:06
758.8352:0517:15
742208.6342:06717:24
738.5332:0717:33
722108.3322:08617:42
718.2312:0917:51
HVY702008302:10518:00
697.8282:1418:12
681907.5262:18418:24
677.1242:2218:36
666.8222:2618:48
SIG651806.5202:30319:00
641706.2182:3519:24
631605.8162:4019:48
621505.4142:45220:12
614.9122:5020:36
MOD601404.5103:00121:00

ACFT – 3 Repetition Maximum Hex Deadlift (MDL)

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Scoring Hex Deadlift

Max 340 (100 Points); HVY 200 (70 Points); SIG 180 (65 Points); MOD 140 (60 Points)

Starting Position Hex Deadlift MDL

Arms should be fully extended, back flat, head in line with the spinal column or slightly extended, head and eyes to the front or slightly upward, and heels in contact with the ground. All repetitions will begin from this position.

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Line of Action (Upwards)

On the command of “GO,” the Soldier will stand up and lift the bar by extending the hips and knees. Hips should never rise before or above the shoulders. The back should remain straight – not flexed or extended. The Soldier will continue to extend the hips and knees until reaching an upright stance. There is a slight pause at the top of this movement.

Line of Action (Downwards)

By flexing the hips and the knees slowly, the Soldier lowers the bar to the ground under control while maintaining a flat-back position.

Test Specific Technique

Dropping the Bar: Do not drop or let go of the bar. The hexagon/trap bar weight plates must touch the ground before beginning the next repetition. Weight plates may not bounce on the ground.

3 Continuous Reps Execute three continuous repetitions with the same weight. If the Soldier fails to complete three continuous repetitions under control, he or she is permitted one retest at a lower weight. If the Soldier successfully completes three continuous repetitions on the first attempt, he or she may elect an additional attempt at a higher weight. The maximum number of attempts on the MDL is two.

Safety Stops for the MDL

I was happy to see the US Army was wise enough to enforce safety stops in the Hex deadlift.  Basically, if you don’t practice safe form, you’ll be disqualified.  These qualifications makes sense — so follow them in your training.

  1. Internal Knee Valgus.  If your knees cave inwards, you will be stopped.
  2. Hips above shoulders.  You must keep your hips under your shoulders at all times.  Powerlifting standard
  3. Rounding out back or shoulders.  You must keep the shoulders in external rotation and the back in extension.  This is good practice.
  4. Losing Balance.  If you take a step forward or backwards … you are disqualified.

Movement Patterns of Concern with the Hex Deadlift

It’s very easy to seriously hurt yourself with the Hex Deadlift.  That said with some training, the hex deadlift is perfectly safe.

  1. Existing back injuries such as slipped discs or bulging discs
  2. Lack of movement or strength in the traps and rhomboids.  These muscles help keep the shoulders externally rotated.
  3. Preexisting arm injuries: hand, wrist, shoulder, or elbow.  Any mechanical arm injury can make the deadlift unsafe
  4. Lack of strength in the back and or core.
  5. Lack of body awareness of what a flat back looks like.

Recommended Training Techniques (SSF)

Sumo Deadlift, Dumbbell Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift, Back Extension, GHD, Conventional Deadlift

Complaints Against the Use of the Trap Bar Deadlift

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Mark Riptoe pretty much sums up every negative aspect of the Hex Deadlift in this video.  I would agree that every negative comment he makes is fair and accurate.  What’s not fair is he skips over the positive reasons for using the Hex Deadlift in the Army Test.  Mainly, the Hex Deadlift requires much less mobility and training to perform correctly.  His video explains why Mark doesn’t include hex bar deadlifts in his Starting Strength system.  In essence, it’s not necessary, because the squat and deadlift hit both patterns.  Mark’s best criticism (and one I agree with) is that standard hex bar is very unstable in the top position (he’s right.)  That’s why SSF also has a Valor Orb with D-Handles.  Moreover, there are other style trap bars made by Valor that have an adjustable width.  The Army probably didn’t elect to use an adjustable trap because they are more expensive and will inherently be more subject to breaking (more moving parts.)

Substitutes for the Test

None — the hex deadlift is a required element.

Hex Deadlift MDL Equipment

Nomenclature: hexagon barbell (hexagon bar/trap-bar)
A. Rationale: its configuration leads to a much more upright torso position, allowing the soldier to “sit” into the movement with far fewer technical requirements than a traditional straight bar deadlift. ideal for shrugs and deadlifts.

Hex Bar Specification:

  • hexagon Bar/Trap-Bar (NO D-HANDLES)
  • Olympic Size. Weight: 60LB (Unloaded) Must Be Within + 2 Pounds Of Claimed Weight.
  • Durable Hexagonal Frame Welded from 1.5” square steel tubing (1.5″SCH 80 pipe sleeves).
  • 4” of loadable sleeve length (to accommodate four each 45lb bumper plates w/collar).
  • Both sets of knurled, parallel handles measure 1.34” in diameter and are spaced 25” on center.
  • Hexagon bar requires rust proofing. examples: black oxide bare steel; bright zinc; black zinc chrome; nickel; and phosphorous zinc plate to resist rusting.
  • Required to have a solid sleeve design.
  • Color is non-specific.
  • Loadable sleeve length must be able to hold 4x 45lb. bumper plates with collar.
  • Weight of bar should be standard 60 lbs empty.

SSF Hex Bar Equipment:

  • Sand and Steel has two Trap/ Hex Bars. We have a Rogue TB-1 Trap bar 2.0 which is built to the Army’s Specifications.
  • We also have a Valor Fitness OB-HEX which is an improved trap bar more suitable for training. We use the Valor Fitness OB-HEX.  This bar prevents:
    1. Rolling of plates;
    2. Fast Plate Loading
    3. Clips not required
    4. Allows for multiple grip widths
    5. D-Handles to improve stability.
  • Why didn’t the Army go with the OB-hex? We suspect the reasons are the Ob-hex is more expensive, takes up more space, it has a proprietary design, and the D-handles reduce the life expectancy of the equipment (as compared to a fixed handle model.)  D-handles are much easier on the wrists and easier to control.

Plates for the Hex Deadlift

The Army’s materials documents specify a lot of detail about the style of the plates.  See this footnote if you are interested.3

The plates they require are standard bumper plates.  Since the Army doesn’t allow the hex bar to be dropped, it is surprising they went with bumper plates.  Nonetheless, Sand and Steel Fitness has over 4000 pounds of bumper plates, many of which are the same Hi-Temp plates the Army Recommends.

Collars for the Hex Deadlift

Again, the Army goes out of the way to specific something doesn’t need a whole lot of detail.  The Army went with the old-fashioned spring grip collars. We had to special order these “antiques” so you could get used to using them.  Once your confident with them, we use much more advanced collars (such as lock jaw and OSO collars.) You probably don’t need to read about the collar specification, but if you are curious, check the footnote. 4

Paul’s Opinion on the MDL

The Trap bar deadlift is a very polarizing lift.  I definitely prefer the conventional deadlift, but I also get that this technique is hard to learn.  Lots of people think they know how to do it when they don’t.  I think the fitness community would have preferred the army to include the conventional deadlift.  At the “easy” weights the army is looking for — I don’t have a personal problem with the exercise.  I still think using a new generation trap bar is the way to go.

The Standing Power Throw (SPT)

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Standing Power Throw Technique

  1. Stand with your back to the line — heels in front of the line.
  2. You can do several “patterning” movements… e.g. test swings.
  3. The soldier then rapidly executes the overhead, behind the back through.
  4. The soldier may (should) jump to improve distance of the ball.
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Scoring the Standing Power Throw

Distance is measured from where the Ball Lands.  Max 12.5m; HVY 8M; SIG 6.5M; MOD 4.5M

Movement Patterns of Concern with Standing Power Throw

The explosive extension pattern of the Standing Power Throw lends itself to injuries if the soldier does not have good mobility.

  • Lack of Shoulder flexion
  • Lack of Hip Extension
  • Ankle or knee instability
  • Lack of extension

Building the Double Extension / Single Flexion Pattern for the Standing Power Throw

Power starts from your legs … aggressively drive your hips into hip extension – bringing your knees into near lock out.  Whip your spine into a backbend (spinal extension).  Drive your arms overhead into shoulder flexion.  Drive this pattern quickly enough to create lifting in your hips.

Substitutes for the SPT

Current Army rules allow this test to be removed if you qualify for an exception.

Standing Power Throw Equipment

A medicine ball (also known as an exercise ball, a med ball, or a fitness ball) is a weighted ball (approx. 9” in diameter), often used for rehabilitation and strength training.

  1. The medicine ball should be made from hard rubber.
  2. It should be inflatable, heavy duty, and non-malleable unlike a slam ball.
  3. A textured grip surface should make it easy to handle.
  4. The medicine ball should not lose its shape and should be made from a durable weighted rubber shell specially designed to withstand normal impact.
  5. The weight cannot shift inside and cannot be filled with sand or similar material.
  6. The medicine ball needs to be weather proof.
  7. The medicine ball color is non-specific but it must be 10 lbs, no other weight is acceptable.

Recommended Training Techniques (SSF)

Various Shoulder Flexion and External Rotation Drills; Medball cleans (hip drive); TRX Max Effort Jump Squat; GHD Back Extension Strength; Back Extension Mobility Drills.

Standing Power Throw Equipment

Medicine ball needs a 9″ diameter, made from hard rubber.  It may not be a slam ball.  It must not lose its shape.  It must have a durable weight rubber shell designed to withstand normal impact.  It cannot be filled with sand or similar materials (weight cannot shift inside.)  It must weight 10#.

SSF Standing Power Throw Equipment

We have a specific medicine ball to the above specification.  We also have a lighter and heavier one use for training and improving the standing power throw.

Standing Power Throw Scoring

Measured from the start line and point the ball hits the ground.  Best out of 2 throws counts.

Standing Power Throw Technique Requirements

You may grab underneath the ball.  You may perform several preparation poses.  The soldier may not be moving before you begin the throw.  You may jump at the end of the throw.  If you fault twice (e.g. jump over the line), you’ll get a third a chance to throw.

Paul’s Opinion on the SPT

To be honest this was a new exercise to me.  It has a lot of similarities to Olympic lifting.  I’ll need to additional time to really render an opinion on this.  My initial thoughts is that it’s a pain to do because you need a very high ceiling or to be outside to replicate this movement.  It’s definitely safe in a conventional gym.

Hand Release Push-up (HRP)

This is the Wrong Technique

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It’s sad…that the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training can’t even show the proper technique for this exercise.  It’s true that the ACFT has been updated several times, but if the technique is no longer accurate — you should mention as much in the video.  The above video doesn’t not show the correct technique according the US Army Standards.  I will say that the technique shown in the above video is the correct technique for CrossFit Hand Release Push-ups.  However, the 65,000 people who have watched this video got the wrong instruction.

Hand Release Pushup Technique

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The US Army’s Official ACFT website has the technique written down in detail.  Here’s an abbreviated variation with emphasis on the unique elements.

Lay face down index fingers inside the outer edges of the shoulders.  Feet remain generally together, no more than a boot’s width apart.  Push your whole body up from the ground as a single unit to the up position locking out the elbows (elbow extension).  You must keep your hips in a neutral alignment.  To move back down, bend their elbows to lower the body back to the ground. The chest, hips and thighs should touch down at the same time.  Arm Extension HRP – immediately move both arms out to the side straightening the elbows into the T position.  After reaching this position, the elbows bend to move the hands back under the shoulder.  

If you touch your knee to the floor — the test ends.  Chest, hips, and thighs must touch the ground.  You may not rest on the ground.  You may “rest” on top, but you cannot bent your knees, hips or elbows (so no downdogs).  You cannot snake your way up.

The reasoning for this modification, is to slow down the cadence of the push-up.  This modification basically eliminates bouncing off the bottom of the pushup.  It also makes it impossible to sneak in any half reps.  It looks strange, but it’s a good way to test push-ups.

Scoring The HRP – Hand Release Pushup

Max 60 reps (100 Points); HVY reps 30 (70 Points); SIG 20 reps (65 Points); MOD 10 reps (60 Points)

Do as many pushups as you can in two minutes with no rest.

Hand Release Pushup Equipment

There is no specific equipment for the HRP.

SSF HRP Pushup Equipment

Sand and Steel has various types of equipment for scaling up or scaling down pushups.  We have cable machines, push-up blocks, air blades, airex, and many more pieces of special equipment.

Training the HRP Pushup

There are many sources of weakness and tightness on the pushup.  The key to building the pushup is diagnosing the source of weaknesses in muscle like pectoris major, triceps, and rectus abdominus.  Muscles that aid in stability as well antagonistic muscles need to be evaluated.

Key Exercises: tricep press, bodyblade chest fly, chest smash, kettle bell chest curls, dumbbell chest press, abmat situps, leg lifts.

Paul’s Opinion on the HRP

I think the Army’s decision to do these strange pushups is a good one.  It’s hard to force people to do real pushups properly.  I think they should have called them something else (hand release pushups is definitely another exercise.)  I would called these airplane pushups.

Sprint Drag Carry (SDC)

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  • Sprint 1 50M Lap
  • Drag 1 50M Lap
  • Lateral 1 50M Lap
  • Carry 1 50M Lap
  • Sprint 1 50M Lap

The sprint drag carry event is 25 meters long.  You have touch the line with your foot and hand.  Sled Drag (90#): pull with two handle backwards until the sled crosses the 25m line.  Turn the sled around and pull the sled back to the start line.  Perform a Lateral 25m, touch the 25m line and return.  Laterals are basically a side to side shuffle. Carry:  Grasp the handles of the two 40-pound kettlebells and run to the 25m turn line; step on or over the 25m turn line with one foot; turn and run back to the start line. If your drop the KB, you will need to pick up from the point the kettlebell dropped.  Sprint — Same as before.  250 Meters as fast as you can.

Don’t jerk the straps or sling the sled to turn the sled around.  Do not cross feet during the lateral.

Scoring the Sprint Drag Carry (SDC)

Time to complete 250 Meters.  Max 1:33 minutes; HVY 2:10 Minutes; SIG 2:30 Minutes; MOD 3:00 Minutes

Sprint Drag Carry Equipment

Made from Heavy Nylon.  Sled should be 22” long by 19.5” width.  Sled should hold up to 4 45# plates.    The pull strap should 92 inches long with handles on both ends.  Metal sleds are not allowed.

The Sprint Drag Carry Training:

The Sprint: Certainly sprinting technique is a major aspect of this event.  Learning the sprinting form is part of our Pose running program.  Learning how to sprint efficiently is beyond the scope of this post, but there many simple techniques you can use improve your sprinting power — even without focusing on technique.  Certainly sprinting itself is a good exercise.  Echobike Sprints are excellent.  High resistance spin bike sprints (windgates) are also a great choice.

The Drag: Again, practicing dragging a sled is the best practice for this exercise.  Similarly building back strength through rowing, bent over rows, bench rows, cable rows, deadlifts, and similar exercises will make your back stronger.

The Lateral: Other than laterals, soldiers should practice glute band and quarter squats to improve their lateral speed.

The Carry: the carry is a simple farmer’s carry.  The farmer’s carry is a matter shoulder strength and grip strength.  Grip strength is trained with a variety of techniques such as fat bars, wrist rollers, hand grippers, grip puddy, pinch blocks, wide deadlift bars, etc.  Strengthening the shoulders can be done with cleans, shrugs, and more farmer’s carries.

Paul’s Opinion on the SDC

This is a good general purpose test.  Its a shuttle run variant — shuttle runs have been in fitness for a long time.  Sled drags and farmers walks as well.  I would have used sandbags instead of kettlebells.  It’s safer and they are more portable.

Leg Tuck (LGK)

Leg Tuck Technique: start in a mixed grip straight-arm hang on the bar (keep dominant hand closest to your face.)  The body is mostly perpendicular with the bar.  Legs must be straight and arms must be locked.  Knee Tuck: pull your knees to your elbows.  The right and left knees or thighs must touch the right and left elbows, respectively.  You then need to return to straight arm position under control. Small, inconsequential, or passive movement of the body and twisting of the trunk is permitted. Deliberately swinging the trunk and legs to assist with lifting the knees is not permitted and will cause the subsequent repetition to not count.

The solider may rest in the straight-arm (down) position, and may adjust grip positions by moving the hands.  You can’t drop to the ground.  You must maintain control on your last rep or your last rep will not count.  You may not touch the post supports.

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Scoring The Leg Tuck LTK

Max 20 reps (100 Points); HVY reps 5 (70 Points); SIG 3 reps (65 Points); MOD 1 reps (60 Points).  It’s worth noting that doing 5 leg tucks is considerably easier than doing 20.  It’s fairly “easy” to rack up 5 points here.  However, for many people getting one leg tuck will be a wake up call.

Leg Tuck Equipment

You need a pullup bar for this event.

SSF LTK Equipment

We have many kinds of pullup bars, rings, and suspension trainers.   Plus we have bands and floating bars to assist in improving your technique.

Training the LTK

You need to have a very strong core and sufficient spinal mobility to get your knees to your elbows.  If you don’t have enough mobility in your spine or hips flexors — you have to start there.  Then there is grip strength to hold your own body weight.  Plus, you enough bicep and shoulder strength to hold yourself in the perpendicular position.  Suffice it to say, there are many different exercises that will be selected to help you improve your LTK.  Which exercises we select will depend on why they are hard for you.

Key exercises: Hip Mobility, Back Mobility, knees to elbows, heel hook, situps, leg lifts, bent arm hands, ring pullups, mixed grip pullups, mixed grip body rotations, vertical rip trainer work.

Paul’s Opinion on the LTK

The leg tuck is a cool exercise.  It’s not one that I did in great volume before studying the ACFT.  As a professional CrossFitter I did knees to elbows and various Toes 2 Bar variations.  The challenge of holding yourself in the elbow-flexed bar perpendicular position is harder for many people that I might have expected.  It’s a great exercise and I am incorporating into more of my training.  Especially the slighter tougher variation heel hook (see below).  It’s a safe exercise for people having sufficient strength — don’t let go of the bar.

The 2 Mile Run (2MR)

A straight forward two mile run on flat improved terrain.  You get a 10 minute rest after the leg tuck to recover.

Scoring The 2 Mile Run 2MR

Scoring: Max 13:30 (100 Points); HVY 18 Minutes (70 Points); SIG 19 Minutes (65 Points); MOD 21 Minutes (60 Points).

How fast is this?  13:30 comes out to a 6.75 miles per hour.  6.75 mph for two miles is a quick pace, but not unreasonably so.  The minimum speed of 10.5 miles per hour is only slightly faster than walking.  Provided you work on your conditioning passing this event should be hard.

Acing the 2 Mile Run 2MR

There is nothing special about the Army’s 2MR.  It is a flat standard terrain run.  So training for the 2 mile run is basically the same as training for the 5K.  That said there is a tremendous amount of training and knowledge that goes into improving running technique.  From strengthening the posterior chain, mobilizing ankles, working on running form, etc. are all involved.  If you want to improve your running technique … hire Sand and Steel or another certified run coach.

Training for the 2 Mile Run and Aerobic Events

If you will be taking the standard 2MR, training for the run is a question of working with heart rate tracking equipment across various modalities.  As mentioned before, running mechanics is it’s own field.  If you don’t have good technique, getting a 13:30 2MR will be very hard.  Assuming you have good technique, training with a heart rate monitor is also very important.  You will want to train in intervals 15-30 minutes.  Other techniques like step ups, lunges, hill repeats are also good choices.

Army Suggested Training Plan

MDL (Hex Deadlift)

Top Three Recommended Exercises

  1. Sumo Squat
  2. Alternate Staggered Squat Jump
  3. Forward Lunge

Comments: these aren’t the 3 best exercises to build your 3 rep max hex deadlift.  Forward lunge doesn’t make sense to include on this list.

MDL Recommended Program – Strength Training Circuit (STC)

Overall: many of these exercises are demonstrated with poor technique or they use the wrong equipment.  Kettlebells are a great tool, but they shouldn’t be used in place of dumbbell or barbell.  There are great kettlebell exercises — but these are not the right ones.  Moreover, none of these exercises are tuned to really improve a 3 rep max on the hex deadlift.  As a training plan goes, this isn’t a good one if you want to get better at your 3 rep on the hex deadlift.

Station 1: Sumo Squat

Better done with a barbell

Station 2: Straight-Leg Dead Lift

Single leg deadlift would be better.  If you are doing a SDL, it should be done with a barbell.  The Good morning is superior if you only have a kettlebell.

Station 3: Forward Lunge

The forward lunge is a fine exercise, but it is improperly demonstrated in FM 07-22.  Back and leg positioning are completely wrong.

Station 4: 8-Count Step-Up

This exercise is OK for conditioning, but this is a strength circuit.  It would be better executed by keeping the same leg on the box holding a sandbag on your shoulder.

Station 5: Pull-Up or Straight-Arm Pull

Pullups are great, but the pictures demonstrating technique in FM 07-22 show improper hand distance.  The explanation on the straight arm pull is lacking, but this is a good exercise nonetheless.

Station 6: Supine Chest Press

Kettlebells are the wrong piece of equipment for this exercise.  This is a dumbbell exercise.

Station 7: Bent-Over Row

The technique shown in FM 07-22 is terrible.  Moreover this exercise is better done with a barbell.  Personally, I only use the BOR as a warm-up.  You can’t move any real weight with this exercise.

Station 8: Overhead Push Press

Some many problems with the demonstration shown in FM 07-22.  For one it’s not a push-press.  The picture shows a kettlebell strict press.  If you are going to kettlebell strict press, you would want to press your shoulders into a neutral position.  Rotate your shoulder forward 90 degrees.

Station 9: Supine Body Twist (Russian Twist)

The technique shown in FM 07-22 is not correct.  The supine body twist can be done with keeping the shoulder stable and rotating the hips, or it can be done keeping the hips stable and rotating the shoulder (a Russian twist).  Flipping back and forth won’t produce any real gains in strength.

Station 10: Leg Tuck

The leg tuck exercise is fine, but is more appropriately done in the Climbing Drills.  E.g. since we are going to be doing Climbing Drill exercises, it doesn’t make sense to have this exercise twice in a training system.

Standing Power Throw ACFT

Top Three Recommended Exercises

  1. Power Jump
  2. Overhead Push Press
  3. Tuck Jump

Comments: these aren’t the best exercises to build your standing power throw distance.  Not sure why the overhead press is even on this list.

Conditioning Drill 3 (CD3)

Conditioning Drill 15 is probably for building conditioning than Conditioning Drill 3.  That said, I wouldn’t say that any of the Army Conditioning drill are especially well suited for improving the distance on the Standing Power Toss as part of the ACFT.  The name should tell you.  The SPT on ACFT is an explosive exercise that requires lots of spinal and shoulder mobility.  If you want to make the SPT better, you have train those patterns.

So my big issue with using the CD3 isn’t that it won’t improve conditioning … it’s that it won’t make you better the SPT for the ACFT

Exercise 1: “Y” Squat

The Army Y Squat — is really more of a mobility / warm-up exercise.  It’s not a conditioning drill.  As a mobility warmup exercise it’s fine.

Exercise 2: Single-Leg Deadlift

The SDL is not a conditioning drill.  It’s a stability drill.  Moreover, I’m not exactly sure what exercise is being demonstrated in FM 07-22 (page 9-24) but that is not a Single Leg Deadlift.  Please don’t do this exercise unless your commanding officer requires you too.  It’s a waste of your time.  Whereas the single leg deadlift is a good stability exercise when properly performed.

Exercise 3: Side-to-Side Knee Lifts

This exercise is fine as a warm-up for improving total body conditioning.  It’s similar to marching in place.

Exercise 4: Front Kick Alternate Toe Touch

Dynamic leg swings has the capacity to cause strained hamstrings.  While some fitness professional use this exercise, I think it should be counter-indicated.  It’s not a necessary exercise … and the potential for a hamstring strain is too high.  Yoga’s Standing Big Toe Hold is far superior.

Exercise 5: Tuck Jump

Provided you have the fitness capacity, the tuck jump is fine.  It is a high impact exercise though, and will lead injuries if not properly supervised.  The TRX Plyo Squat is a superior conditioning exercise.

Exercise 6: Straddle-Run Forward and Backward (Skaters)

The straddle run is known as the skater in the personal trainer community.  It’s a fine agility / conditioning exercise, and it’s properly demonstrated on FM 07-22

Exercise 7: Half-Squat Laterals

We usually do half squat laterals with a mini-band to increase the load on the hips to amplify the affect of the exercise.

Exercise 8: Frog Jumps Forward and Backward (mini jumps)

Mini-jumps are fine, and they will definitely build conditioning.

Exercise 9: Alternate ¼-Turn Jump

This exercise is also fine.

Exercise 10: Alternate-Staggered Squat Jump

No problems here.

Four to the Core (4C)

  • Bent Leg Raise
  • Side Bridge (Side Plank)
  • Back Bridge (1 Leg Glute Bridge)
  • Quadraplex (Bird Dog)

Guerrilla Drill (GD)

  • Shoulder Roll
  • Lunge Walk
  • Solider Carry

Climbing Drill (CD)

  • Straight Arm Pull – Pullup shoulder positioning drill
  • Heel Hook (alternating grip on pull-up bar and lock legs around pullup bar)
  • Pull-up
  • Leg Tuck

Climbing Drill 2 (CD2)

  • Flexed Arm Hang
  • Heel Hook (alternating grip on pull-up bar and lock legs around pullup bar)
  • Pull-up
  • Alternating Grip Pullup

Army Combat Training Plan by SSF

A serious training plan always needs to be modified and customized by a certified personal trainer. Understanding how to create a training plan involves identifying the key ACFT Patterns, Exercises designed to improve the Army Combat Fitness Test, and customized workout plan.

ACFT Patterns

  1. Deadlift, Back Extension
  2. Clean, Shoulder Flexion, Back Extension
  3. Chest; Lats; Triceps
  4. Run; Grip; Conditioning
  5. Shoulders; Grip; Biceps; Core Flexion
  6. Run or Conditioning 12-15 Minutes

Exercises for Army Combat Fitness Test

  • MDL: Sumo Deadlift, Dumbbell Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift, Back Extension, GHD, Conventional Deadlift
  • SPT: Various Shoulder Flexion and External Rotation Drills; Medball cleans (hip drive); TRX Max Effort Jump Squat; GHD Back Extension Strength; Back Extension Mobility Drills.  Sandball Clean, Sand Ball Snatch
  • HRP: Tricep press, bodyblade chest fly, chest smash, kettle bell chest curls, dumbbell chest press, abmat situps, leg lifts; dips
  • SDC:
    • Leg Mobility: Sprints: Pose Drills
    • Drags: rowing, bent over rows, bench rows, cable rows, deadlifts
    • Laterals, soldiers should practice glute band and quarter squats
    • Carry: fat bars, wrist rollers, hand grippers, grip puddy, pinch blocks, wide deadlift bars, cleans, shrugs, and more farmer’s carries; Club Clock Swing; Mace Gada Swing
  • LTK:
    • Hip Mobility, Back Mobility, knees to elbows, heel hook, situps, leg lifts, bent arm hands, ring pullups, mixed grip pullups, mixed grip body rotations, vertical rip trainer work.
  • 2MR
    • Heart Running; runs at various lengths; step ups, lunges,and hill repeats

References For Paul’s ACFT Training Guide

ACFT IOC, ACFT website, etc.

  1. US Army Reserves Article on Combat Fitness Test
  2. Army Combat Fitness Test
    Training Guide
  3. https://www.army.mil/acft/
  4. ACFT Test Standards
  5. Army Combat Fitness Test
  6. Army Combat Field Test Equipment List
  7. ACFT IOC

Footnotes For ACFT Training Plan

  1. DEA Physical Task Assessment

    The DEA Physical Task Assessment (PTA) consists of four exercises.  The PTAA must ensure participants are given ten minutes of rest between each of the events.  The PTA Administrator (PTAA) must administer the exercise portion of the Physical Task Assessment in the following sequence:

    1. sit-ups,
    2. a 300-meter sprint,
    3. push-ups, and
    4. a 1.5 mile run.

    FBI Physical Fitness Test

    FBI Physical Fitness Test has the same exercises as the DEA Physical Fitness Test.   They even have an App to help your prepare for the test.

    • 1 min of Sit-Ups, as many reps as possible
    • 300-meter Sprints, timed
    • Push-Ups, as many as possible untimed
    • 1.5-mile run
    • Pullups are also required if you are applying for a “hostage-rescue” position

    FLETC Physical Efficiency Battery (PEB):

    Many agencies such as the IRS criminal division rely on the FLETC test.  This test is a little different (and probably better than the DEA and FBI tests in the author’s opinion.)  Scoring: a score of 75 % or higher in all categories excluding the Body Composition receives a Fitness Certificate.  A score of 90% or higher excluding the Body Composition receives a Distinguished Fitness Certificate.  A score of 90% or higher in all categories including Body Composition receives a Certificate of Distinguished Fitness and their name added to the Fitness Honor Roll.

    The FLETC test includes:

    • Body Composition: The test consists of measuring body fat at three different sites with skinfold calipers. These are then entered into a computer program and percentage of body fat is calculated.  The following sites are measured depending on the gender: Males:  Chest, Abdomen, and  Thigh. Females:  Tricep, Hip, and  Thigh.
    • Illinois Agility Run: This test measures the student’s ability to get up from the ground and sprint while changing directions.  The student  will lay on the floor in a prone position.  They will then get up and sprint 30 feet and return.  They will then negotiate 4 obstacles covering  a 30 foot area and return through the obstacles.  The test concludes with another 30 foot sprint and return.  The test is measured in the hundreds of seconds.
    • Sit and Reach: This test measures the student’s flexibility in the lower back, legs and shoulders.  The student will sit on the floor in front of the measuring device.  They will bend at the waist pushing a block down the device.  The stretch must be a static stretch and the student’s calves must remain in contact with the floor.  The test is measured to the quarter inch.
    • Bench Press: This test measures the student’s upper body strength for one repetition.  The test is conducted on a single fulcrum bench for safety purposes.  The student is to press the weight straight up until they have locked out their arms.  This test is measured in 5 pound increments.
    • 1.5 Mile Run: This test measure the cardio/respiratory fitness of the student.  It is conducted on a quarter mile track.  The student runs six laps.  The test is measure in minutes and seconds.

    There are many more tests we help people pass. Ultimately, all of these government tests have a fitness standard. We test where you are and we build you a program to where you need to be.

  2. For more information see this reddit thread on the alternative events.
  3.  Nomenclature: Single Hi-temp Bumper Plates (550lb)
    A. Description: bumper plate should be constructed of vulcanized rubber and a 2″ stainless steel insert. collar on bumper plates should be inset from the plane of the plate, allowing for better protection when multiple plates are on the bar, and reducing the risk of inserts getting impacted or popping out.
    1) 4x10lb plate width 1 3/8″
    2) 2x15lb plate width 1 7/8″
    3) 2x25lb plate width 2 1/4″
    4) 2x35lb plate width 3 1/8″
    5) 8x45lb plate width 3 3/4″

    B. Bumper Plate Specification:
    1) Standard Diameter 450MM (17.7165 INCH).
    2) Solid Rubber Plates Made From virgin or high quality recycled rubber.
    3) shore durometer a 87.7 – 88.3.
    4) collar opening: 50.4mm.
    5) insert type: forged stainless steel.
    6) bumper plate thickness measurements are within 1\16″ of an inch.
    7) weight tolerance: +/- 1% of claimed weight.
    8) bumper plate color is non-specific.

  4.  Nomenclature: Barbell Collar/Spring.

    Description: 2x (Pair) per lane. Designed to be used on 50mm Olympic bar sleeves. long lasting rubber interior to protect your barbell and provide a snug fit. quick and easy locking mechanism provides secure hold and easy on/off b. specification:

    1) plastic or metal 2” x 2” barbell collar.
    2) weight: 1 to 2 lbs per pair.
    3) must ensure collar/spring and bar selected are fully compatible. fits allowable range between 1.937 to 2.015(inches). not all collars/springs work with all bars.

  5. Power Jumps, V-ups, Mountain Climber, Leg Tuck and Twist, Single Leg Pushup.

6 reviews for ACFT Training Plan for the Army Combat Fitness Test

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeannete G.

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  2. 5 out of 5

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  3. 5 out of 5

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  5. 5 out of 5

    Jody K.

    I chose Sand & Steel Fitness because of their level of expertise to help me overcome my physical challenges and better prepare me for the Army Combat Fitness Test.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hunter K.

    I had a lot of anxiety of the NCFT, but I am glad to be able to see progress in my performance using the Sand and Steel ACFT Training Plan.

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