A couple of staff writers from a blog that have never taken the Army Combat Fitness Test saw fit to spew their opinions about it.

A disappointing and ignorant commentary.

While I’m hardly surprised that the authors failed to mention the new small arms Training Circulars and new qualification courses first released in 2016 among the “many impressive changes recently” in the opening paragraph, their ire against the pending ACFT is largely unfounded.

First problem is far too many people complaining about this test are ignorant of it and the current standards. Educate yourself:

The ACFT Field Testing Manual explains the standards.

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

This article demonstrates the events:

All the events of the ACFT can be learned in minutes. The entire test can be learned well enough to perform safely in the first session and anyone with basic experience with strength and conditioning programs will know how. This is true no matter how many times people with useless Exercise Physiology degrees who remain ignorant of strength and conditioning principles claim otherwise. Now, tested personnel may not be able to pass the test during that first session (that is what training is for, something many Army personnel are also ignorant of) but they can be taught to safely attempt the events at some level.

The equipment cost for a company-size element to have a dedicated, UIC-owned complete set of 16 lanes is well less than the base pay of that same Reserve component unit for a single MUTA 4 Battle Assembly (drill). This is a one-time expense of less than half the price per person than issuing new OCPs for durable equipment that will last a decade or more. No, I’m not suggesting using pay funding to pay for this; it’s a simple price comparison. That means every company-sized element also just outfitted a rather nice weight room for their personal use. It also eliminates any scaling issues. Furthermore, many of the Army’s fitness test in the past half century prior to the push up/sit up/run test of the APFT used 5-6 events and required equipment. In fact, this equipment was in the form of an obstacle course (Run, Dodge & Jump, Horizontal Ladder, etc.) that required use of a dedicated facility.

“#4 It Might Increase Injury Rates” is fear mongering, catastrophizing, potentially setting up a nocebo effect, and a baseless statement. This test is not inherently more injurious than the old APFT. The majority of evidence indicates a strength-biased test is safer and will reduce injuries. More details if you’re interested in educating yourself on what real research indicates:

Furthemore, emerging research continues to indicate that a strength-based training approach is ideal for reducing chronic pain and rehabilitation of injuries:

The effects of a free-weight-based resistance training intervention on pain, squat biomechanics and MRI-defined lumbar fat infiltration and functional cross-sectional area in those with chronic low back.

Musculoskeletal pain and exercise—challenging existing paradigms and introducing new

Association between muscular strength and mortality

Babying your back may delay healing

The failure of the APFT is that it failed to raise and maintain strength. This is part of the reason why it failed to provide these benefits. Not surprising, as it was intended as a hygiene program.

The problem is that the data compiled by the Department of Army which modified the APFT score chart created a nocebo effect of convincing personnel in their mid-twenties that they’re getting “old” as the score chart allows for reduced performance for a given score. Contrast to competitive athletics, particularly strength and barbell sports, that do not recognize a Masters athlete until age 40 or older. The APFT failed to build and maintain strength, so the test “corrected” by using an age chart that would have been unnecessary if personnel had followed a strength based program instead and instilled the incorrect notion that people show age-related declines in their twenties when this isn’t necessarily the case until decades later. The ACFT should help correct this.

Oh, and if a “combat-seasoned special forces sergeant major” would need to increase his maximum-effort deadlift by over 100 pounds to max this test, then his deadlift is very far below “substantial.” It isn’t even baseline for a late-stage novice. Educate yourself on what typical standards look like:

One of the many benefits of this test will be to educate Soldiers as to what good a strength and conditioning program is supposed to look like and provide a test to determine if they’re getting there.

Example from the Army football team at West Point:

Eliminating unnecessary age brackets removes the wrong notion that Soldier age reduces the ability to get and stay strong.

89-year-old Joe Stockinger (147-pound bodyweight) deadlifting 405 pounds for 2 reps.

>> We have yet to hear a single soldier utter a positive word about it.

Perhaps you should pay better attention to personnel knowledgeable about training rather than whiners on social media. Sorry to inform you, but Duffel Blog is not valid research resource.

Thankfully, others have written a more insightful commentary on this: