To be a soldier in US Army, you’ve got to be physically fit. Since 1858, the army has used fitness testing to ensure that soldiers are effective in combat. The armed forces regularly evaluate soldiers’ fitness using tests like the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT).
This guide will cover all the component exercises of the ACFT and the minimum scores you need to achieve for each test.
What is the Army Combat Fitness Test?
The ACFT is a routine physical fitness test that soldiers must pass to graduate from basic training. Active duty soldiers and members of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard must take the test regularly to ensure they are combat-ready and achieve the Army’s holistic health objectives. Soldiers must achieve a minimum score adjusted for gender and age.
Derived from 113 “essential warrior tasks and drills,” the ACFT has been under development since 2013.
The military began overhauling its testing and training systems based on the real experiences of soldiers during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The ACFT isn’t to be confused with the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT), a pre-recruitment fitness test.
The ACFT vs. the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT)
The ACFT was introduced in 2022 to replace the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), the standard military fitness test since 1980.
The ACFT addresses many of the shortcomings of the APFT and is designed to test a broader range of physical fitness goals that are directly relevant to combat performance.
The Army Physical Fitness Test only consisted of three events: push-ups, sit-ups, and a two-mile run. The ACFT is a more comprehensive test of lower and upper-body strength, muscular endurance, and aerobic fitness.
The ACFT consists of six events that evaluate muscular strength and aerobic capacity across a full range of muscle groups. These events can be performed with standard equipment found in most gyms. No equipment is needed for some exercise.
Three-Rep Maximum Deadlift
Soldiers must bend and pick up a bar with weights to test the maximum weight they can deadlift three times within a single set. The deadlift tests a soldier’s muscular strength in the hips and legs. It also evaluates flexibility and balance.
Standing Power Throw
Soldiers must hold a 10-pound medicine ball with both hands starting at hip level and bend their knees to lower the ball between their legs. They will hoist the ball and throw it over their head behind them as far as they can. Each soldier gets two attempts, and the longest distance is recorded. This event measures explosive strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility.
Starting from the down position with their hands flat on the ground at shoulder width, soldiers do as many push-ups as they can in two minutes. Each soldier must maintain proper form with their backs flat for a rep to count. Front-leaning rest—the up position—is the only authorized rest position between reps. Soldiers aren’t permitted to rest with their knees or elbows on the ground.
The Sprint-Drag-Carry is a timed event that requires soldiers to run in a straight line 25 meters and back five times without stopping. It is meant to simulate brief but intense physical exertion common in real-life combat situations, like rescuing a fallen soldier from the battlefield.
In the first lap, the solider will sprint as fast as they can to the 25-meter line, touch it and return to the starting position. They will do the same while dragging a 90-pound sled in the second lap. After that, they will turn sideways and shuffle the course length. Next, they will run 50 yards carrying two 40-pound kettlebells. Finally, the event ends with another sprint.
In the past, the Army tested core strength by requiring soldiers to do as many sit-ups as possible in a given time. The plank event represents a more robust test incorporating balance and muscular endurance. The soldier will keep their body taught with hands, elbows, and toes on the ground. The event ends if the soldier doesn’t maintain the proper plank position.
This event is a timed run that can be performed on outdoor and indoor tracks or any flat improved terrain, such as roads or sidewalks. It cannot be performed on unimproved terrain, like park trails. Soldiers with a permanent medical condition may qualify for alternate events, such as swimming or walking instead of running.
A soldier can achieve 100 points in each event, so the maximum score is 600. The minimum passing score is 60 or 360 for all six events. In the earliest iteration, the ACFT was a gender-neutral test. However, in response to soldier feedback, the army implemented a separate scoring scale for various gender and age groups.
To find the minimum score for each event broken down by gender and age group, you can view a complete scoring chart on the Army’s website here. For quick reference, here are the values needed to pass each event for a soldier at the Army’s median age of 27:
Men: 140 lbs
Women: 120 lbs
Standing Power Throw
Men: 6.5 meters
Women: 4.2 meters
Preparing for the ACFT
Thanks to the intense physical fitness conditioning soldiers undergo during basic training, most should be in good enough shape to easily meet the minimum physical fitness standards.
After basic training, soldiers will still need to pass the ACFT at least twice a year, so the army recommends a set of exercises to help improve soldiers’ scores.
- Sumo deadlift
- Alternate staggered squat jump
- Forward lunge
Standing Power Throw
- Power jump
- Overhead push press
- Tuck jump
- Supine chest press
- Eight-count push-up
- Incline bench
- Straight-leg deadlift
- Bent-over row
- 300-meter shuttle run
- Bent leg raise
- Leg tuck and twist
- Side bridge
You can find detailed instructions and videos demonstrating how to do each exercise on the Army’s website.
The military sets certain expectations for enlisted soldiers in the regular Army, National Guard, and army reserve. Gone are the days when physical fitness testing was primarily about the number of sit-ups and push-ups a soldier could do. The ACFT is a more comprehensive test that includes strength, endurance, and mental toughness.
While the ACFT is a bit more challenging and rigorous than its predecessor, most soldiers should be able to pass it easily with a little bit of training and conditioning. Also, you’ll have a chance to train and try again if you fail the first time.