ACFT Standards Changed Once More, This Time for Gender Inclusivity
The Army is looking to make new changes to their Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) standards. Congress is interested in making the Army fitness test more gender-neutral and geared towards job-specific standards.
What Is the ACFT and the Current ACFT Standards?
The new Army fitness test has six events related to combat that are all used to test an individual’s physical and mental abilities in just 50 minutes.
- Two-mile run: The timed run assesses one’s cardiovascular strength and endurance.
- Standing power throw: One must throw a medicine ball weighing 10 pounds backward over their head to assess their muscular power. This simulates having to carry a Soldier or yourself on the battlefield across uneven terrain or an obstacle.
- Sprint/drag/carry: One must sprint a 25-meter lane five times, up and down, drag a 90-pound sled, then carry two 40-pound kettlebells. This simulates having to take cover quickly and moving a Soldier away from danger.
- Maximum deadlift: One must deadlift three times, with the weights ranging from 120 pounds to 140 pounds. The weights will increase after each repetition, and this simulates carrying a Soldier, ammunition boxes, and other heavy equipment.
- Plank: One must hold a plank position for as long as they can to assess their core strength.
- Hand-release push-ups: One must perform as many hand-release push-ups as they can for two minutes; however, depending on the job, one may have to perform a minimum number of hand-release push-ups.
After joining the Army, Soldiers must take the Army Combat Fitness Test multiple times a year. You get two chances to pass the ACFT, and the minimum passing score is 360 points – 60 points in each of the six events.
The ACFT is currently scored based on one’s gender and age.
Army ACFT Changes 2022
The ACFT replaced the Army Physical Fitness Test in order to be more gender-neutral, but only about 50% of women had a passing rate compared to the 90% passing rate for men. The Army still believes that all genders and ages should be able to pass the events if they want to be in the Army, as everyone must be ready for anything in combat. The previous test placed emphasis on upper body strength, which made some believe this was unfair to women.
ACFT changes are being pushed due to women’s low passing rates for the test, particularly due to the two-mile run. Previously, a leg tuck was one of the six events, but it was later replaced with the plank in order to better test women’s core strength.
Captain Kristen Greist said, “Under a gender-based system, women in combat arms have to fight every day to dispel the notion that their presence inherently weakens these previously all-male units. Lower female standards also reinforce the belief that women cannot perform the same job as men, therefore making it difficult for women to earn the trust and confidence of their teammates.”
On top of gender neutrality, the Army ACFT changes include scoring based on specific jobs. They believe that certain positions need to have higher standards of physical and mental fitness compared to other positions, such as those working an administrative job. While Army planners are currently developing specific job standards, it is only in the works for combat arms troops for now.
Job-specific scoring will not be easy to implement, as this was attempted in the past, but test developers could not decide on the logistics of scoring.
The Army’s Approach
The National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes funding for the military and is yet to be passed, would require Christine Wormouth, Secretary of the Army, to rework the ACFT in just 180 days after the bill’s been passed. The new and improved ACFT must have similar standards for men and women to be more gender-neutral and ensure that all Soldiers will be able to perform the tasks required for their jobs.
The Army is always looking to find the best ways to measure one’s fitness. The ACFT standards have changed and are looking to change even more. Despite taking over a decade to develop, it is not done yet.
Read next: How to Pass the ACFT Fitness Test
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. Photo by Sgt. Sarah Sangster 25th Combat Aviation Brigade