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Army changes minimum requirements for several fitness standards

Pfc. Tony Garcia, an infantryman with 2nd platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, pumps out pushups during a ranger physical fitness test Dec. 2, 2010. (Staff Sgt. Joshua Ford/U.S. Army)
October 02, 2019

On Friday, the U.S. Army announced changes to that lowered some standards and raised others in existing portions of the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), while also adding the assessment as part of graduation for new recruits.

The 2020 changes to the ACFT standards, as reported by Military.com, altered the minimum requirements for deadlifts, sprint-drag-carry exercises and the the standard power throw for Soldiers in various physical work conditions.

Soldiers in “black” work conditions, signifying heavy physical work saw the minimum requirements for the strength deadlift rise from 180 to 200 pounds. The minimum requirements for the power throw dropped from 8.5 meters to 8 meters; the sprint drag speed slowed from 2 minutes, 9 seconds to 2 minutes, 10 seconds. The remaining standards of 30 push-ups, 5 leg tucks and 18 minutes for the two-mile run remained the same.

Soldiers in “gray” significant physical work conditions must saw changes to the minimum requirements for the deadlift rose from 160 to 180 pounds and the sprint-drag-carry sped up from from 2 minutes, 45 seconds to 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The”gray” minimum requirements for the remained the same for the power throw at 6.5 meters, 20 push-ups, 3 leg tucks and a 19 minute two-mile run

Soldiers in moderate “gold” work conditions also saw lower minimum requirements for the power throw from 4.6 meters to 4.5 meters, while the two-mile requirement sped up from 21 minutes 7 seconds to 21 minutes. The requirements of 140 pounds for the strength deadlift, 10 push-ups 3 minutes, 35 seconds for the sprint, drag and carry and 1 leg tuck remained the same.

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“Physical fitness is fundamental to sustained Army readiness,” Sergeant Major of the Army, Michael Grinston, said in a news release. “We must have highly trained, disciplined and physically fit soldiers capable of winning on any battlefield. The ACFT, specifically linked to common warfighting tasks, will help us assess and improve the individual readiness of the force.”

Senior leaders in the Army said the ACFT will significantly improve combat readiness, and part of the field test was to see if it needed to be adjusted.

Michael McGurk, director of research for the Center for Initial Military Training (CIMT), the organization overseeing the new ACFT, told Military.com that the purpose of the this was to “determine how to give the test efficiently, how to grade the test efficiently, to get the graders out there and to see if we got the scores about right.”

“The good news for us is, after a year, we got the scores about right, so there have been some very minor adjustments, but we are broadly on track,” he added.

The push-up test, specifically, was redesigned to be based on an arm-extension push-up, rather than the old hand-release push-up.

“We found it very difficult to grade the hand-lift [push-up] due to a myriad of factors, including shoulder mobility,” CIMT research physiologist, Whitfield East, said in the release. “Instead of lifting their hands, soldiers hyperextended their lower backs and lifted their chests off the ground, and then never got back to the start position.”

The minimum standards are the same as before, but the maximum possible score from 70 hand-release push-ups dropped to 60 arm-extension push-ups.

Starting Oct. 1, new enlisted soldiers and commissioned officers going through Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training, One Station Unit Training, Warrant Officer Basic Course and the Basic Officer Leader Course must also pass the ACFT to graduate.

Soldiers should start preparing for the ACFT as soon as possible, Army leaders stressed.

“I would encourage all soldiers across each component to begin training for the ACFT now — if you aren’t already,” Grinston said. “We have already released an ACFT training guide with exercises from Field Manual 7-22 to help soldiers successfully prepare for the test with or without equipment.”