ACFT Deadlift Standards
Did you know there are US Army ACFT deadlift standards for all soldiers as of October 2020?
Whether you are thinking of joining the United States Army or not, now is a good time to become familiar with the Army Combat Fitness Test standards – ACFT standards.
Because the new Army Combat Fitness Test is replacing the 40-year-old APFT.
And out of all possible strength training exercises, after investing millions in research, the Department of Defense selected the deadlift to build the mental and physical strength that an active duty soldier needs.
Success leaves clues.
If the American armed forces are standardizing their fitness test with the deadlift, as well as the other five events of this new combat readiness fitness test, that should tell you something about the remarkable advantages of deadlifting.
This post will give a brief introduction to the:
- old U.S. Army’s fitness tests APFT,
- ACFT deadlift standards, and
what you should do next to reap the awesome mind and body transformation you can gain from the deadlift.
What is the APFT vs. ACFT?
The Army has relied on the APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) for the last 40 years.
In September 2018, the Department of Defense announced that they are replacing the APFT with the ACFT, the Army Combat Fitness Test.
The new Army Combat Fitness Test will become the fitness test of record as of October 2020.
According to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Public Affairs¹:
“The ACFT standards MOS (for Military Occupational Specialties) are set at three levels:
- Gold: moderate MOS physical demands
- Soldiers must meet the minimum requirements of the Gold Standard to graduate from:
- Basic Combat Training,
- Advanced Individual Training,
- One Station Unit Training,
- Basic Officer Leadership, and the
- Warrant Officers Basic Leadership courses.
- Grey: significant MOS physical demands
- Black: heavy MOS physical demands – the maximum score possible”
The purpose of the ACFT is to ensure that soldiers are:
- able to lift wounded soldiers
- capable to move ammunition stores
- able to fight despite the physical demands of combat
- less prone to injuries
- have the right fitness level for their MOS (Military Occupational Specialty)
- tested without regard to age or gender
The new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is more challenging than the old Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT).
The latest changes come as the Army focuses on ensuring that soldiers can meet the physical demands of combat, said Dr. Whitfield East, EdD, Research Physiologist for CIMT (Center for Initial Military Training.)
The Old APFT
The previous Army Physical Fitness Test of the last 40 years consisted of three test events:
- the number of pushups you can do in two minutes
- how many situps you can perform in two minutes
- the time it takes you to run 2 miles
US Marine Corporal Attempts the New Army Combat Fitness Test
The New Army Combat Fitness Test
Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is the new kid on the block.
Take a look at the new test events to ace the ACFT.
“We’ve compiled good empirical research on what’s required to do high physically demanding, common warfighting tasks,” East said, regarding last year’s field test.
“When you look at the six events (of the ACFT), they cover major components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, explosive power, and a lot are anaerobic power or anaerobic endurance.”²
There are six test events³ in the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT):
- Maximum Deadlift (MDL)
- Standing power throw
- Hand release push-ups
- Sprint, sled drag, farmer’s carry event
- Leg tucks
- 2-mile run
Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) Event Descriptions
#1. Hex Bar Maximum Deadlift (MDL)
The US Army confirms through the selection of the hex bar deadlift, that for full-body strength assessment, there is no compound exercise that is greater than the deadlift.
The deadlift is an excellent tool to measure total body strength because it uses the majority of muscles in your body.
- basketball players,
- senior citizens, and
are not the only ones who know about the incredible benefits of the deadlift.
So it is no wonder that meeting the ACFT deadlift standards is the first event of the six Army Combat Fitness Test events.
The U.S. Army Deadlift Requirements
Army ACFT Deadlift Standards
- For the strength deadlift, use a hex bar either indoors or outdoors.
- A hex bar deadlift will minimize injury while accurately measuring lower body strength.
- You can load the hex bar, also known as a trap bar, up to 460 pounds total when factoring in the hex weightlifting plates, and the trap bar collars.
- Perform a three-repetition maximum deadlift (MDL) with the most weight you are capable of lifting within 5 minutes.
- Maintain proper deadlift form for all three repetitions.
The fitness component tested is muscular strength.
The load range of the three-repetition deadlift is 120 to 420 pounds.
Deadlifts simulate lifting munitions boxes, an injured soldier, supplies, or heavy equipment. (Military One Source)
Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) Event #1 – Ace the Maximum Deadlift (MDL)
#2. Standing power throw
- Use a 10-pound medicine ball and measuring tape
- You can do this test indoors or outdoors
- Lower the medicine ball towards the ground with your arms fully extended and then throw the ball over your head backward
- Take one practice throw
- Two standing power throws for record
The standing power throw tests explosive power.
How to Max the Standing Power Throw – ACFT Event #2
#3. Hand release push-ups
- Assume a prone position on the ground
- Feet together
- Head off the floor
- Hands underneath your shoulders
- On command to start, push up to a plank position
- Return to the ground and release your hands from the floor so it is clear to an observer
- Put your hands back in the HRPU (hand release push-up) starting position
- Do as many pushups with perfect form within 2 minutes
Hand-release push-ups will measure muscular endurance and upper body strength.
Army Combat Fitness Test Event #3 – MAX the Hand Release Push-Up
#4. Sprint-drag-carry event
- You do five laps on a 25-meter (27 yards or 82 feet) distance
- A lap means that you go back and forth on this 25m lane for a total distance of 50 meters
- This event is timed
- The first lap is a sprint back and forth
- Lap 2 is dragging a sled loaded with two 45-pound plates backward
- Lap 3 is completing a 50m lateral shuttle (see the Army ACFT Deadlift Standards plus the other five events below)
- The fourth lap is carrying a 40-pound kettlebell in each hand for 50m, also called a kettlebell carry
- Lap 5 is another 50m sprint
The Sprint, Drag, and Carry will test muscular strength and endurance.
Top 5 Tips to Crush for ACFT Sprint Drag Carry (SDC) Event #4
#5. Leg tucks
- Use a 7.5-foot x 5-foot wide pull-up bar
- Hold the bar with an alternating grip
- Perform the Army Combat Fitness Test leg tuck event by lifting your knees up to your elbows
- Do as many Leg Tucks as you can within two minutes
Leg tucks will test the muscular endurance of your abdominals and grip.
Army Combat Fitness Test Leg Tuck – Event 5: Max the ACFT
#6. Two Mile Run
- Use a stopwatch to time a 2-mile run on flat terrain
The two-mile run will assess your aerobic endurance.
Run a Faster 2-Mile | Improve your APFT and/or ACFT Score
Army ACFT Deadlift Standards – Wrapping up
The Army is an expert at building mental and physical toughness in men and women of all ages.
Consider that the purpose of assessing a soldier’s warfighting fitness is a matter of life and death.
All of the six test events are meant to accurately mirror the physical demands of common soldier tasks (CST), such as;
- Evacuating casualties on the battlefield
- Carrying heavy loads such as ammunition
- Climbing over obstacles
- Throwing grenades
- Pushing loads up to or over obstacles
- Crossing a rope or ladder bridge
- Movement under enemy fire
To ensure that a soldier has the core strength to emerge victorious over enemy combatants, the United States Army selected ACFT deadlift standards as one of its six test events.
If the deadlift is powerful enough to create combat-ready U.S. soldiers who are physically fit and mentally tough, in other words, lethal warriors, imagine what deadlifting can do for you.
Of course, the Army knows that while deadlift strength is critical for combat, weightlifting is not the first step for a new soldier.
Instead, Army Physical Readiness Training (APRT) is the army’s own method to prepare you for basic training.
It’s a short sequence of exercises you can do anywhere and anytime.
While it’s aimed at potential soldiers, it’s also a valuable no-frills workout that’s ideal for civilians too.
Needing no equipment, it’s an excuse-free program and ideal for home exercisers.
This article: Army PRT Exercises – Physical Readiness Training to Get Fit! details the APRT and illustrates another way you can get fit at home and even for the army!
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