USAWC and the Army Combat Fitness Test

The United States Army War College has administered the new Army Combat Fitness Test to see how Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels with 17-20 years of experience fared. The results were mixed, with some not making the grade every year. These same senior leaders had passed or even maxed the APFT for years. They were unprepared for the functional fitness requirements in the new ACFT. As a current active duty officer, I have witnessed over 48 seminars take the test and many of those selected to be the future leaders of our Army are incapable of meeting the requirements this test lays out. We have trained multiple graduates of the Army War College to not only pass this test, but improve their scores significantly. Some of the incoming class are prepared to do well. Most are prepared to pass. Some are not. We can assist you no matter what your preparation level. It is best to start early and not wait until the CSL comes out to make the decision that it’s time to get back in fighting shape.


The ACFT is a 6 event test which challenges muscular and aerobic endurance, muscular strength, speed and agility, and explosive power.

1. Trap Bar Dead Lift

The dead lift is a core movement in Functional Fitness and our coaches are experts in the fundamentals which will help you improve your scores in this event as well as improve your general lifting ability across all movements. The movement in the Trap Bar Dead Lift is also used in the Standing Power Throw.

2. Standing Power Throw

Functional Fitness has been using exercise balls since its inception and the movements we will teach you will help you to maneuver the ball through the distinct phases of this throw. The power you gain from our training in your legs, core, back, shoulders and arms will assist in maximizing your performance.

3. Hand Release Push-Up

This is the standard Functional Fitness push-up. By lifting the hands off the floor when completing a repetition, the movement becomes more difficult and forces an explosive movement to move the body off the floor. Unlike the old Army push-up where you only had to “break the plane,” this push up takes you all the way to the ground. I have maxed the APFT multiple times in my 26 year Army career…the first time I did these, I could only do 40 in 2 minutes. Carlisle Core Fitness and Health will help you get your push-ups back to a higher level using the new standards. There is no half-moving on these. If you skirted the line to max your scores in the past, you aren’t going to make it. It’s time to get into the shape you need to be in.

4. Sprint/Drag/Carry

This event is a whole body workout on its own and this is where most Soldiers hit a wall they haven’t seen before on a PT test. It consists of multiple sprints, a weighted sled drag and a farmer’s carry. While this doesn’t sound too bad when reading it, there is no rest between the stages of this single event and the weight is not scaled to your body style, age or gender.

This means that if you are big and strong, you may be able to lift and pull, but the sprints and aerobic requirements are going to get you. If you are a lean runner who thinks 5 miles every 2 days is the right way to train Soldiers, you are going to have a hard time with the weighted portions of the event. The bottom line is that the Army is telling you that they are looking for a Functional Fitness athlete now. They don’t want people that are just good at lifting heavy things. They don’t want people who are who are just good at running long distance. They want an athlete. This sort of event is exactly what Carlisle Core Fitness and Health does on a daily basis in the workouts. If you can get through a standard Functional Fitness workout, the ACFT is just going to be another chance to excel.

5. Leg Tuck

The Leg Tuck is another name for “knees to elbows,” and again, this is an exercise that has been done in Functional Fitness for years. Knees to elbows is actually a movement that is used to train for a more difficult movement, “toes to bar.” This is not just an exercise for the core, but requires strength, coordination and endurance from every major part of your body from your knees-up. While the first 10 or 15 can be done without training, after that you are going to burn out quickly due to poor form. This is the most common COMPLETE FAILURE for Colonels at the War College. There were a significant portion of the class who would not qualify to lead a Combat Brigade due to their inability to conduct the required number correctly. On average ONE OUT OF 16 students at the Army War College fail to do any properly. There are methods we will teach you about body movement, core and arm tension, and leg movement which will improve your scores on this event significantly.

6. Two-Mile Run

Ok…you’ve done this one before…but now you’re smoked. There is very little rest between the last 5 events and the Sprint/Drag/Carry has already burnt your legs. Your core is on fire from the Leg Tuck. At the end of all this, you have to do a 2 mile run. The workouts at Carlisle Core Fitness and Health will help you manage your energy and know your pace in these events.

Each of these events are either similar to or exactly like the movements trained at Carlisle Core Fitness and Health. These movements were selected for their functional nature and it is no coincidence that Functional Fitness has been focused on them since its beginning. Don’t wait until the end of this year at the War College to get ready for this test. Get ahead of the game and be prepared to lead Soldiers from the front. It’s hard to demand a high score on the ACFT if you can’t do it yourself. As an officer who was selected for Brigade Command, and a graduate from the USAWC, I can tell you that this year goes by fast and this is the best year you are going to have to get back into shape. Everything we do is built to help you succeed.

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