10 Steps to Training to "MAX the ACFT"

soldier conducting the maximum deadlift event as part of the acft

The United States Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is a new and improved physical fitness test designed to measure the physical readiness of soldiers and assess their ability to perform essential tasks in combat. If you're planning to join the army or currently serving, it's essential to train for the ACFT. In this blog post, we'll discuss how to train for the US Army ACFT.

1. Know the Test Components

The ACFT consists of six events that test different aspects of physical fitness, including muscular endurance, strength, power, and speed.

The events are:

  • Three-repetition maximum deadlift
  • Standing power throw
  • Hand-release push-ups
  • Sprint-drag-carry
  • MAX plank
  • Two-mile run

Before you start training, it is essential to understand the requirements and scoring for each event. I recommend you check the official US Army Combat Fitness Test website to check exercise requirements and scoring standards.

2. Build Strength and Endurance

To perform well on the ACFT, you need to build both strength and endurance. Incorporate strength training and cardio into your training routine. Focus on compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups, and military press to build overall strength. For endurance training, incorporate activities like running, swimming, cycling, and rowing.

3. Practice the Test Events

To improve your performance on the ACFT, you need to practice the test events. Familiarize yourself with the test events and practice them regularly to build proficiency and confidence. Use proper form and technique to maximize your performance and reduce the risk of injury.

4. Incorporate Functional Training

Incorporating functional training into your routine can help you prepare for the ACFT and improve your overall fitness. Examples of functional training exercises that can help you prepare for the ACFT include sandbag carries, farmer's walks, kettlebell swings, box jumps, and tire flips.

5. Rest and Recover

Rest and recovery are essential for optimizing performance and preventing injury. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and take rest days between training sessions. Listen to your body and avoid overtraining, which can lead to burnout and injury.

6. Seek Guidance from a Coach or Trainer

If you're new to training or need additional guidance, seek the help of a coach or trainer. A qualified coach or trainer can provide personalized training plans and help you build a solid foundation for ACFT training. They can also provide feedback on your form and technique, help you set goals, and keep you accountable. You should also look to follow a guided fitness program to ensure you follow a routine that will work. Of course, we've got that covered for you with our 8-Week "MAX the ACFT" Fitness Program.

About Gritty Soldier Fitness: gritty soldier standing with arms crossed inside office

7. Train Specifically for your Weaknesses

Identify your weaknesses on the ACFT and create a plan to improve them. For example, if you struggle with the leg tuck event, focus on exercises that target your core and grip strength. If you struggle with the sprint-drag-carry, work on improving your cardiovascular endurance with HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or other forms of cardio.

8. Use Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise. It's essential for building strength and endurance over time. Start with manageable weights and repetitions and gradually increase the weight, repetitions, or duration of your training. This approach will help you avoid injury and improve your performance on the ACFT.

9. Consider your Nutrition

Proper nutrition is crucial for optimal physical performance. Make sure to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks or excessive caffeine.

soldiers eating mres in the field

10. Mental Preparation

Physical training is only one part of preparing for the ACFT. Mental preparation is also important for performing well under pressure. Visualize yourself successfully completing each event and practice positive self-talk. Develop a positive mindset and stay focused on your goals.

In conclusion, training for the US Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) requires a combination of strength, endurance, and functional training. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the test events, build strength and endurance, practice functional training exercises, rest and recover, and seek guidance from a coach or trainer. With proper training and preparation, you can optimize your performance on the ACFT and become physically ready for combat.


Come train for the ACFT on the Gritty Soldier Fitness app! You'll find the complete 8-Week "MAX the ACFT" Fitness Program there. You can track every exercise and workout, and get examples of each and every exercise! Come join the community! 

1 comment

  • Doug

    Howdy. Retired 19D turned 18E with a side of Ranger. Retired in ‘99 and became a municipal Firefighter, and was a Colorado state proctor for the CPAT (Candidate Physical Agility Test). Truly retired now (OK, I drive for Lyft some).
    As someone who was always involved in fitness and fitness training it’s interesting to see the evolving cycle of the Army’s physical readiness assesment over time. I’m old enough to remember running in combat boots and the old 5 station PT Test. (2 mile, push ups, sit ups,run dodge and jump, inverted crawl and monkey bars) There was an official sounding name for the monkey bars that escapes me now, but basically you went back and forth on monkey bars as many times as you could for a minute. The monkey bars and run dodge and jump needed equipment so simplicity was not one of it’s virtues. The reasoning for the APFT was it was a fair, basic assessment of fitness and needed very little equipment to run. I always argued for the pull up to either replace or compliment the pushup, because i think together they give a more accurate picture of your upper body strength. It seems this new ACFT requires some equipment, but also equipment which can easily be jury rigged by some resourceful soldiers! The hands free or hand release push up intrigues me. I was able to max the pushups during my 21 years in the Army, and I must admit… I gotta work on those puppies! LOL From afar, I think the ACFT is a good record of someones readiness to perform as a soldier. It seems most of the equipment required can easily be substituted with many items on hand so it’s functional as well. What do you guys think?
    I think your channel is awesome! Newly discovered and subscribed
    Scouts out!

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