The US Army plans to replace the outdated fitness test with a more stringent model designed to better prepare soldiers for the demands of modern warfare.
The new test has been run for two years and is due to be officially rolled out in March 2022. It replaces the 40-year-old Army’s physical fitness test, which tested soldiers on their ability to perform two minutes of situps, two minutes of pushups and 2 miles.
the two hours Army combat fitness test 3.0 (ACFT) evaluates movements that best parallel the requirements of combat on the ground, including rescuing the wounded and loading equipment, according to Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Gabriel Ramirez.
“There are a lot of difficulties associated with being a soldier and a soldier in combat,” Ramirez said. “ACFT is better for soldiers insofar as they can perform their duties on the battlefield.”
It consists of six exercises: medicine ball throwing, hand release push-ups, deadlifts, two-mile runs, sprints and pull-ups, and leg bends or planks.
Ramirez said the new test better assesses strength, coordination and cardiovascular endurance, as well as encouraging a “different mindset for training.” More and more intense activities, he said, require more rigorous training, which may better prepare soldiers for the job.
“When I first started preparing for ACFT, it was a huge change from training for… First Class Nakilia Rami said in the video Posted on the Army website. “I knew the same routine wouldn’t work with ACFT.”
Ramy described the idea of incorporating resistance bands and other equipment into her workouts, which is not necessary when training to do push-ups or abdominal exercises. She also discussed retraining her knees after an injury and her struggles with the deadlift.
“Fitness is not new to soldiers, so ACFT may be a challenge, but we are able to get through it,” Ramy said.
He said the ACFT has been used for years to collect data on its effectiveness but has not been used as a performance evaluation yet.
The latest version, ACFT 3.0, is the latest data-informed modification. The most notable change, compared to version 2.0, includes the plank as an alternative to calf flexion to address the higher failure rates among women with calf flexion. Army officials said the plank and leg rate basic strength, and would be considered the same in terms of scoring.
However, more than half of the women still failed the new exam, according to Army Forces Command data posted on Military.com. Women in the military have expressed concern that the military prioritizing physical strength over leadership qualities or technical skills needed in the age of high technology may lead to inadvertent marginalization of women in the military and underutilized people in general, with useful skills outside of fitness, The Washington Post reported last year.
“I think most people, most individuals, who have had proper training, can pass the test,” Ramirez said.
Army officials said another potential change to address the higher failure rate among women would be to use a performance-level program that takes gender into account.
“The debate will continue,” Ramirez said. “I think the important thing for us is that we need to have the data to make informed decisions.”