Here is all you need to understand about the Army’s new ACFT: Motivated and intelligent personnel that know how to train effectively will continue to get very good scores, just as before. Malingerers will complain and do poorly or fail, just as before.

Consider what the test is asking personnel to do. Here are the proposed standards as of July 31 2018: July 2018 proposed standards

The ACFT Field Testing Manual explains the standards.

Click to access Field%20testing%20manual.pdf

This article demonstrates the events:

The trap/hex bar deadlift (called the “Strength Deadlift” for some odd reason) seems to be drawing the most ire, followed by a ball toss (called the “Power Throw”.) Note the current force-wide suggested minimum is a deadlift with 140 pounds for a triple and the throw uses a 10-pound medicine ball.

All six tests have very easy minimums, especially the endurance-based ones.

“But That’s Dangerous!”

Why? According to whom? What led you to this false conclusion?

It certainly wasn’t from skilled strength and conditioning coaches or actual studies on their efforts.

The statistics below comprise over two dozen independent studies done by different researchers in several different countries spanning several decades. Feel free to read all the of the linked and referenced research.

The first article is a great reference because it is a meta-analysis referencing and compiling nearly 20 other formal studies.

TL;DR Athletes in endurance-based sports suffer 2-3 times more injuries than those in strength-based sports when adjusted to even things out.

This makes the ACFT (and weight training in general) a L – low risk based on the DRAW (DD Form 2977, Deliberate Risk Assessment Worksheet) Based on many research studies, injuries Seldom occur with a Moderate or Negligible effect. Running is very safe, but has three times the injury rate of weight training.
The first hits on a Google search found two studies with Army personnel as the test subjects:
Injury Risk Factors Associated With Weight Training
“Weight-training injury incidence was 0.31 [or less] per 1,000 hours of weight training [4.5% chance or less per year]… Performing moderate amounts of WT may reduce the risk of experiencing a WT injury.”
Effects of Physical Training and Fitness on Running Injuries in Physically Active Young Men
“Over 4,000 (n = 4,236) soldiers were surveyed. Running injury incidence was 14%”
This is strictly an imagined “problem” regurgitated by people that do not know better.
Other studies compared a number of sports, not just endurance vs. strength-based sports:

Relative Safety of Weightlifting and Weight Training
Hamill Brian P.
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: February 1994

The American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 21 (3), pp. 461-467, 1993. Injuries in Recreational Adult Fitness Activities

Sports Medicine Australia Sports Fact Sheets

Sport Fact Sheets

Pediatrics. 1983 Nov;72(5):636-44. Medical history associated with adolescent powerlifting.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 2006 Aug;20(3):672-81. Retrospective injury epidemiology of one hundred one competitive Oceania power lifters: the effects of age, body mass, competitive standard, and gender.

Sports Medicine 1992 Nov;14(5):320-35. Running injuries. A review of the epidemiological literature.

Powerlifting Injury Rate Comparison

83 Evidence Based Answers to Fitness and Nutrition FAQs

The statistics in the studies mentioned here are based on injury rates per participant-hour and make for an even comparison regardless of which sport/activity has a greater total number of participants.

Yes, there are studies suggesting “weight lifting” having some high number of injuries. Such inflated results are a total combination that includes every jackwagon reporting an injury due to screwing around in a gym and – much more important – fails to adjust that result into either a percentage of total participants (the vast majority that never reported any problems) or by factoring into to the total number of participant-hours.

Consider Activity A with 100 reported injuries vs. Activity B with only a 10. It would be bad math and logical fallacy to immediately claim Activity A as more dangerous. If Activity A has 100,000 participants averaging a total 2,000,000 participant-hours per month while Activity B has 1,000 participants with 15,000 participant-hours per month then Activity B is much more statistically injurious because a greater percentage of the participants report injuries despite spending less time doing it.

Consider the number of gyms around the world that have some weights and the very large number of people going there to use them. Consider the percentage of that large number of participants that have no idea what constitutes effective and productive strength training. From this population of tens of millions of people do all those total numbers of reported injuries arrive.


Concerns about the ACFT are unfounded. Get slightly stronger and you’ll be fine. Get stronger than that and you’ll even end up with a good score. A more comprehensive test was needed for a number of reasons, injury prevention being key among them.

Let’s ask Dr. Austin Baracki, a medical doctor with a powerlifting background:

Meta-analysis of six studies representing a total of 7738 individuals aged 12-40 undergoing various strength training interventions.

“The average volume (amount of exercise), average intensity (measured by number of possible repetitions/sets in the form of x repetition maximum (xRM)) and mean (range) programme duration were 80.33 (11.7–253) repetitions/week, 8.39 (7.14–9.27) RM and 21.39 (10–39.93) weeks, respectively.”

Strength training programmes reduced sports injuries by an average of 66% and were, with 95% certainty, able to more than halve the risk of sports injury (95%CI 52% to 76%)”

“A 10% increase in the number of strength training repetitions was associated with a 4.3 percentage point (and 13% relative) risk reduction, from RR 0.338 (0.238–0.480) to RR 0.295 (0.208–0.419), assuming programme intensity and duration were constant.”

The evidence clearly points towards strengthening failure thresholds of relevant tissues, sufficient technique and psychological preparedness to prevent acute injuries and gradual tissue conditioning, sufficient technique and training variation to prevent overuse injuries.”

Oh no! More reference material:

The LIFTMOR-M (Lifting Intervention For Training Muscle and Osteoporosis Rehabilitation for Men) trial: Protocol for a semirandomised controlled trial of supervised targeted exercise to reduce risk of osteoporotic fracture in older men with low bone mass

Why You Should Train Like A Powerlifter If You Want To Get Faster.

Babying your back may delay healing

Stop Whining and Get Stronger

Baled hay and barn lime and feed bags normally weigh around 40-60 pounds each and often carried two at a time. Feed mills routinely sell grain in hundredweight bags. Every able-bodied child ever raised on a farm lifts this much weight multiple times every day they help Daddy feed cattle.

American farmers that never get a “thank you for your service” do this routinely and without complaint. Some folks even do it for fun at a local county fair. Note the lack of people complaining they’ll get “all snapped up” and demanding VA benefits because somebody asked them to pick up or throw something.

I also noticed a distinct lack of mandatory reflective belts. I hope everyone is OK!

The Army is suggesting its uniformed military personnel preparing for battle should be able to do this same sort of thing once or twice a year.

Do You Not Understand What “Training” Means?

Possibly worse is how much this reveals about the general ignorance to what effective training is. Even if that 340 pound (or 140…) trap bar intimidates you today, it’s far from insurmountable. You just have to train up to it in an intelligently-programmed manner.

Unathletic males new to strength training will often start their deadlift at or around 135 pounds for 5 repetitions. This same person will use 135 as their first, light warm up within a month or two later. Any average adult male with about a year of strength training experience should normally warm up the deadlift with something like 135×10, 225×5, and 315×3 before progressing to singles that increment up to the weight to be used for the actual heavy work sets. The Army test says 340×3 is a “max” worth 100 points.

It does not matter if that’s far too heavy for a different person today. They merely begin with a weight that is sensible and allows good form, then add small increments from there. Five pounds every session is a 100-pound increase twenty sessions later, something that can readily be done within a few months of consistent effort.

Perhaps, one day, all currently-serving uniformed U.S. Army personnel will be as strong as these people.

As for the injury “problem”, football (American gridiron) player Ryan Shazier suffered a spinal injury during a game in December 4, 2017. His initial diagnosis was a less than 20% chance he would walk again. Shazier posted this video of himself December 8, 2018. Guess what exercise his therapist prescribed to help with his rehab?

Note he is lifting more weight than that needed to pass the ACFT.

Shazier’s experience is not an isolated one or due to his being a professional athlete.

Here’s an example of a Soldier doing the same:

Back Rehab case study:

Here’s an example of an insurance adjuster:

Click to access brian_jones_story.pdf

Here’s a good video from somebody that does understand:

Kudos to Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Runser of the Indiana National Guard.

Here are some examples of how the Army football team at West Point conducts their strength and conditioning.