Army changes method of fitness testing for service members

Marseilles National Guard hosted training session in September

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For the first time since 1980, the U.S. Army will use a different method to test the physical readiness of its active duty, Reserve and National Guard forces.

On Oct. 1, the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) became the testing method of record, according to a National Guard news release. It replaces the Army Physical Fitness Test, which consisted of push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run. The newly adopted ACFT consists of six events, including the deadlift, standing power throw, hand release push-ups, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck abdominals and the two-mile run.

To assist the Illinois Army National Guard in the transition, a team of ACFT instructors traveled from Fort Eustis, Virginia, to conduct a validation course for non-commissioned officer in charge and officer in charge at the Marseilles Training Center from Sept. 22 through Sept. 25. Approximately 70 unit NCOs and officers from across the Illinois Army National Guard attended the course.

“We want to know they can execute the events themselves and can teach their units,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Thomas, NCO in charge of the training team from Fort Eustis. “Our focus is to make sure they know the standards and are training to the standards.

“This validation will ensure the Illinois Army National Guard is prepared to conduct the ACFT within Army standards. Soldiers become knowledgeable in the ACFT and then can conduct their own validation training within their units.”

Soldiers attending the course have started the process of validating their units for upcoming ACFTs, according to a National Guard news release.

During the validation course, each Soldier receives training on the ACFT, specifically the exercises and standards.

“As part of the validation course, the team goes through the scoring, lane setup, NCOIC and OIC responsibilities, how to set up the field and what that entails,” said Warrant Officer Shelby Nolte. “We know what to expect with the ACFT and how to conduct the test to Army standards.”

According to Nolte, standards for the ACFT will be identical for men and women, with no adjustments made for age. Soldiers will be placed in one of three categories based on their military occupational specialty and the physical demands to complete the tasks of their jobs. The three categories are gold for moderate demands, gray for significant demands and black for heavy demands.

“The Army has used the APFT to measure physical readiness for a number of years,” Thomas said. “The ACFT training is more realistic and correlates to the soldier’s job and will result in better overall physical fitness."