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3 Strategies to Remain Calm During the ACFT

by Dylan Bartlett

The Army Combat Fitness Test, or ACFT, isn’t just push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups anymore. The new test, which the Army has scheduled to fully replace the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) by October 2020, includes five different events that change the way you need to train. Here are three strategies to help you stay calm during the ACFT. 

  1. What Is the ACFT?

First, how does the ACFT differ from the classic APFT? The ACFT includes five new events and one that will be familiar to anyone who’s trained for the standard physical fitness test. 

  • Deadlift: Soldiers will need to carry out a three-rep max deadlift using a trap bar rather than a straight bar for safety reasons. 
  • Standing Power Throw: Soldiers will need to throw a 10-pound medicine ball backward over their head as far as they can. 
  • Released Push-Ups: Instead of standard push-ups, soldiers will need to lower their chest entirely to the ground and release their hands for each rep.
  • Sprint, Drag, Carry: This event combines sprints, sled-drags and kettlebell carries. It is a timed event.
  • Leg Tuck — Instead of pull-ups, soldiers will need to hang from a pull-up bar and lift their knees to their elbows. 
  • Two-Mile Run: The ACFT will continue to include a two-mile run. Check out our training plans for success!

Now that you have a better idea of what this test entails, how can you stay calm during the ACFT?

1. Study the New Test

If you went into training expecting to take the APFT, you’re probably a little confused right about now. First, remain calm. Take some time and study everything the new test entails, and how you can best train for it

The deadlift and leg tuck, for example, won’t rely solely on upper-body strength. You’ll also need to train your grip strength. The standing power throw uses explosive movements for both the upper and lower body. 

It isn’t an easy test, but it’s something everyone should be able to accomplish if they work for it.

 2. Vary Your Training

It’s tempting to work solely on the specific exercises that will be in the ACFT, but the best thing you can do to help you keep your peace of mind is to vary your training. If you’re doing nothing but deadlifts, med ball throws and sled drags, you’re going to hobble yourself when it comes to other forms of exercises. 

Include different types of cardio and strength training in your regimen. If you normally run long distances for cardio, change it up — kayaking, for example, provides a high intensity workout. Balance your weight training as well. Do deadlifts and med ball throws to practice the movements and ensure you’ve got the proper form, but don’t restrict yourself to those exercises. 

3. Don’t Forget to Address Mental Fatigue

It isn’t just your body that will become fatigued as you’re training for the ACFT. Mental fatigue is also something you’ll need to address to ensure you’re at your peak when it comes time for the test. 

Avoid things like clutter, over-commitment and procrastination. They’re exhausting for your mind and make it more difficult for you to succeed during your physical challenges.

Another thing you’ll need to dump to avoid mental fatigue is perfectionism. You don’t need to be perfect to pass the ACFT, and if you strive for perfection, you’re only going to disappoint yourself.

Finally… Don’t Panic 

The best advice we can offer is this: Don’t panic. The ACFT won’t fully roll out until October 2020. There is time to practice and if you’re planning to enlist, you still have plenty of time to prepare. Staying calm during the ACFT is the first step to a great score. Good luck!

 Dylan Bartlett is a lifestyle blogger from Philadelphia. You can read more of his work at Just a Regular Guide, where he looks at other topics related to health and fitness. Get frequent updates on Twitter @a_regular_guide