ACFT Army Combat Fitness Test For Dummies Book + Online Videos

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2021-01-20
  • Publisher: For Dummies

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The best standalone resource for the Army Combat Fitness Test

As the Army prepares to shift to the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) from the Army Physical Fitness Test, hundreds of thousands of new and current servicemembers will have to pass a more rigorous and demanding set of physical events to prove they have what it takes to meet the physical demands of an army job.

Utilizing the accessible and simple approach that has made the For Dummies series famous the world over, ACFT For Dummies is packed with everything you need to train for and ultimately crush the ACFT. Topics include:

  • An overview of the test, including how it fits into your army role
  • How the test is administered (location, equipment, etc.)
  • Instructions on how to perform each of the six events
  • How the ACFT is scored
  • Training for the ACFT on your own time
  • The importance of recovery, including essential stretches
  • How to build your own workout routine
  • Videos for each of the six events with tips for how to train for them

The ACFT For Dummies prepares readers to tackle the new, tougher Army fitness test with practical examples and concrete strategies that will push each servicemember to new heights.

Author Biography

Angie Papple Johnston joined the United States Army in 2006, preparing to tackle chemical weapons as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Specialist. She is also a certified group fitness trainer.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 2

Beyond the Book 3

Where to Go from Here 3

Part 1: Getting to Know the ACFT 5

Chapter 1: Army Physical Fitness: The Cornerstone of Combat Readiness 7

Saying Goodbye to the Old APFT 8

Sculpting a Fit and Lethal Force 8

Picking Up Performance Basics 10

Range of motion and flexibility 11

Balance 11

Agility 12

Explosive power 12

Muscular strength and endurance 12

Aerobic exercise for cardiovascular endurance 13

Anaerobic exercise for short-term muscle strength 14

PRT: Love it or Hate it, It’s Here to Stay 14

Understanding How the ACFT Fits into Your Army Role 15

Making the grade 15

Training on your own time — and helping your team 16

The Army Performance Triad 16

Chapter 2: Getting an Overview of the ACFT 17

Reading Up on the Army’s Resources and Requirements for the ACFT 18

Checking out Army regs and training resources 18

Surveying site and equipment requirements 18

Getting used to gender- and age-neutral scoring requirements 19

Diagnostic ACFTs versus record ACFTs: Pinning down test frequency 19

Breaking Down the Six Events and Their Scoring 20

The Preparation Drill 22

3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift 23

Standing Power Throw 25

Hand Release Push-Up – Arm Extension 28

Sprint-Drag-Carry 30

Leg Tuck 33

Two-Mile Run 36

The Recovery Drill 37

Biking, Rowing, or Swimming Your Way through the Alternate Events 37

Bike 38

Row 38

Swim 39

Chapter 3: Understanding How the Army Administers the ACFT 41

Counting Down the Minutes 42

Doing Your Homework before the Test 43

Having the Right Tools for the Job: Required Equipment 43

Looking at Helpful Test-Day Details 46

Equipment on the lanes 47

Soldier testing order 47

Card-carrying ACFT-takers: Scorecards 47

Stylin’ and profilin’: What you can’t use during the ACFT 48

Making the Grade to Score the ACFT 48

Level I ACFT graders 48

Level II ACFT graders 49

Level III ACFT grader-instructors 49

Chapter 4: Breaking Down ACFT Instructions and Scoring 51

Following the Rules: The Official ACFT Instructions 52

Lifting with your legs: 3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift instructions 52

Trying MDL tips and techniques 53

Watching for trouble spots on the MDL 53

Exercising explosive power: Standing Power Throw instructions 55

Surveying SPT tips and techniques 55

Watching for trouble spots on the SPT 56

Letting it go: Hand Release Push-up – Arm Extension instructions 56

Harping on HRP tips and techniques 57

Watching for trouble spots on the HRP 59

Showing your combat moves: Sprint-Drag-Carry instructions 59

Sorting out SDC tips and techniques 60

Watching for trouble spots on the SDC 61

Considering core strength: Leg Tuck instructions 62

Looking for LTK tips and techniques 63

Watching for trouble spots on the LTK 64

Welcoming an old friend: Two-Mile Run instructions 65

Marking 2MR tips and techniques 65

Watching for trouble spots on the 2MR 66

Addressing the ACFT’s Scoring Scale 66

Perusing Physical Demand Categories 66

Weighing your score on the scale 74

Tallying up your score on the new ACFT scorecard 75

Accounting for the ACFT MOD 77

Sailing through the 5,000-Meter Row 77

Braking for the 15,000-Meter Bike 77

Soaking up the 1,000-Meter Swim 78

Taking Another Shot: Army Policy on ACFT Failures 78

Part 2: Training for the ACFT on Your Own Time 81

Chapter 5: Putting the (Mandatory) “Fun” in Functional Fitness 83

Mastering the Science of Movement Training 83

Distinguishing muscle training from movement training 84

Playing with planar movement 85

Sectioning off the 4Q model 86

Finding Functional Fitness Basics 88

Core strength 91

Leg strength 91

Back strength 94

Chest strength 95

Bicep, tricep, forearm, and shoulder strength 95

Chapter 6: Stacking Up the Army’s Physical Fitness Components 99

Tracing the Origins of PRT and the ACFT 100

Counting on the Army’s Ten Fitness Components 101

Muscular strength 101

Muscular endurance 102

Power 102

Speed 102

Agility 103

Aerobic endurance 103

Balance 103

Flexibility 104

Coordination 104

Reaction time 104

Getting Heart Smart for Aerobic Exercise 105

Calculating your resting heart rate 105

Finding your target heart rate for aerobic exercise 106

Fitting FITT Principles into Your Workout 108

Frequency 108

Intensity 108

Type 110

Time 110

Powering Your Way through Life with Anaerobic Exercise 110

Chapter 7: Examining P3, PRT, H2F, and the ACFT 113

Cornering the Army’s Performance Triad 113

Sleep 114

Activity 114

Nutrition 115

Reading Up on PRT Documentation 115

Matching PRT Drills and ACFT Events 116

Maximizing PRT for the 3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift 118

The sumo squat 118

Alternate staggered squat jump 119

Forward lunge 120

Stepping up PRT for the Standing Power Throw 122

Power jump 122

Overhead push-press 123

Tuck jump 125

Practicing PRT for the Hand Release Push-Up – Arm Extension 126

Supine chest press 127

8-count T push-up 128

Incline bench 130

Surveying PRT for the Sprint-Drag-Carry 132

Straight-leg deadlift 132

Bent over row 133

300-meter shuttle run 135

Looking at PRT for the Leg Tuck 135

Bent-leg raise 136

Leg tuck and twist 137

Alternating grip pull-up 139

Tackling PRT for the Two-Mile Run 141

Sprint intervals (30:60s and 60:120s) 141

Release run 141

Hill repeats 142

Taking a Closer Look at PRT and Its Drills 143

Preparation Drill 144

4 for the Core 145

Conditioning Drills 1, 2, and 3 145

Climbing Drills 1 and 2 147

The Guerilla Drill 147

The Hip Stability Drill 147

The Push-Up and Sit-Up Drill 147

The Shoulder Stability Drill 147

Running, Endurance and Mobility Activities: Military Movement Drills 1 and 2 148

The Strength Training Circuit 148

Recovery Drill 149

Using PRT to Train for the ACFT 150

Chapter 8: Training to Standard on the ACFT 151

Getting the Basics Down Before You Exercise 152

Back and Legs: Maxing the 3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift Score 154

Sumo squats 155

Staggered squats 156

Lunges 157

Conventional deadlifts 157

Bent over rows 160

Grip work 162

Explosive Power: Training for the Standing Power Throw 162

Power jumps 162

Overhead push presses 163

Tuck jumps 166

Romanian deadlifts 167

Kettlebell swings 168

Medicine ball power jumps 169

Standing front shoulder raises with bands 170

Practice Makes Perfect: Doing More Hand Release Arm-Extension Push-Ups 171

Supine chest presses 171

Incline bench presses 172

Chest flys 174

Renegade row push-ups 175

Medicine Ball push-ups 177

Training for the Sprint-Drag-Carry to Boost Your Battlefield Skills 178

Shuttle runs 178

Straight-leg deadlifts 179

Zercher carries 180

Planks 181

Glute-hamstring raises 182

Grip, Hips, Shoulders, and Elbows: Training for the Leg Tuck 184

Bent-leg raises 184

The leg tuck and twist 184

Mixed-grip pull-ups 186

Rope climbs 187

Isometric hangs 189

Side pillar holds 190

The contralateral dead bug 190

Is, Ys, and Ts 192

Kettlebell pull-throughs 193

Internal, external, and elevated shoulder rotations 194

When My Granny Was 91: How to Improve Your Two-Mile Run Time 197

Sprint interval training 198

Hill repeats 198

Walking lunge 199

Barbell squats 200

Calf raises 202

Glute bridges 203

Chapter 9: Stretching for Recovery and Peak Performance 205

Bouncing Back Stronger through Recovery 206

Getting back on your feet after training with active recovery 206

Discovering delayed-onset muscle soreness 207

Building in recovery days and taking care of injuries 208

Avoiding overtraining syndrome 209

Stretching Out Your Workout Recovery 209

Attending to Army Stretches 211

Overhead arm pull 211

Rear lunge 212

Extend and flex 213

Thigh stretch 213

Single-leg over 215

Loosening up Your Legs and Hips 216

Standing hamstring stretch 216

Piriformis stretch 217

Frog stretch 217

Butterfly stretch 219

Lunging hip flexor stretch 220

Lying quad stretch 221

Calf stretch 221

Examining Essential Arm Stretches 222

Triceps stretch 222

Standing bicep stretch 224

Seated bicep stretch 224

Wrist extension and flexion 225

Forearm flexor stretch 226

Beefing up Your Neck, Shoulder, and Back Stretches 227

Seated shoulder squeeze 227

Upper back stretch 228

Knee to chest stretch 229

Seated back rotation 230

Side-lying thoracic rotation 231

Upper trap stretch 232

Cross-body shoulder stretch 233

Priming the Pecs: Chest Stretches 234

Lying chest stretch 234

Elbow-to-elbow grip 235

Bent-arm wall stretch 236

Stretching out Your Six-Pack 237

Sphinx 237

Child’s pose against a wall 238

Doing Dynamic Stretches for Multiple Muscles 239

Lunge with spinal twist 239

90/90s 240

Side bends 241

Extended child’s pose with sphinx stretch 242

Standing figure 4 244

Quadruped rotation 245

Dynamic shoulder stretch from child’s pose 246

Cat/cow 247

Chapter 10: Focusing on the ACFT for Females 249

Factoring Female Physiology into Common ACFT Challenges 250

Cycling your way through workouts 251

Introducing the female athlete triad 252

Balancing Pregnancy and Physical Training 253

Profiling pregnant soldiers 253

Perusing the P3T program 255

Your (Kid’s) Mom Wears Combat Boots: Working Out Postpartum 256

Chapter 11: Surveying ACFT Training for Seasoned Soldiers 259

Safety First: Taking Workout Precautions 260

Kicking around Exercises for Knee Issues 260

Straight leg raises 261

Hamstring curls with dumbbells 262

Wall squats 262

Step-ups 263

Side leg raises 264

Avoiding Certain Exercises for Back Issues 265

Chapter 12: Dealing with Injuries 269

An Ounce of Prevention: Avoiding Injury with P3 269

Sleep and injury prevention 270

Actively preventing injury 271

Fueling up for injury prevention 272

Covering Common Injuries across the Army 273

Rub Some Dirt on It? Knowing When to Go to Sick Call 275

When RICE Isn’t a Carb: Treating Injuries at Home 276

Rest as a home remedy 277

Putting an injury on ice 277

Keeping your injury under (compression) wraps 277

Elevating an injured extremity 278

Part 3: Structure, Form, and Functional Fitness 279

Chapter 13: Wising Up to Workout Wisdom 281

Following Eight Habits of Highly Successful Exercisers 282

Make health a lifestyle 282

Have fun with it 282

Look at what you’re doing as training, not exercising 282

Get back on track as soon as you can 283

Ask for help when you need it 283

Keep it simple 283

Don’t use weight loss as an indicator of your workout’s effectiveness 283

Mix endurance and strength training 284

Optimizing Your Breathing for Your Activity 284

Breathing while running 285

Breathing during strength training 285

Breathing to relax 285

Resting between Workouts 286

Chapter 14: Understanding Your Body’s Muscular Structure 287

Putting Your Skeletal Muscles on the Map 288

Getting to know your skeletal muscles 288

Adding up antagonistic pairs 289

Zeroing in on the Cardiovascular System 290

Chapter 15: Strength Training to Get Army Strong 293

Bulking up Your Weight-Training Vocab 293

Following Safety Principles 296

Testing Your Strength 298

Checking out upper-body strength with push-ups 298

Crunching the numbers on abdominal strength 299

Muscling your way through a leg strength test 300

Switching It up with Periodization 301

Appreciating the Real Worth of Free Weights and Weight Machines 302

Looking at Group Strength Training 303

Chapter 16: Pumping Some Heart-Smart Aerobic Exercise 305

Understanding the Cardiovascular System’s Role in Exercise 305

Starting with resting heart rate 307

Linking heart efficiency and exercise 308

Identifying why the Army measures cardiorespiratory fitness 308

Finding Your VO2 Max 309

Astrand Treadmill Test 309

2.4-km Cooper Run Test 312

Multistage Beep Test 312

Queuing up the Cardio 312

Hitting your target and max heart rates 313

Going beyond minimum cardio recommendations 314

Chapter 17: Trying Functional Fitness Concepts for Your Core 315

Introducing Your Core Muscles 315

Strengthening Your Core with Beginner Core Exercises 318

Hip lifts 318

Crunches 320

Bicycle kicks 321

The Superman 322

Pulling Your Own Weight During Core Training 323

V-ups 323

Scissor kicks 324

Side planks 325

Trying Out the Army (Core) Ball — No ASUs Necessary 326

Ab rolls 326

Stability ball knee raises 327

Stability ball hip thrusts 328

Perusing Core Exercises for Pregnancy Profiles 329

Cat/cow 330

Modified side plank 330

Side lunges 331

Pregnancy core stretch 332

Stretching and Toning Your Core with Pilates and Yoga 333

Pilates 333

Yoga 334

Chapter 18: Personalizing Your Workout Routine 335

Building Your Own Workout Routine 335

Identifying your personal goals and resources 336

Weight a minute: Figuring out your reps and intensity 337

Supersetting 338

Making time to stretch 338

Marking training days on your calendar 338

Scheduling recovery days into your routine 339

Charting your progress 340

Sneaking in Daytime Workouts You Can Do Anywhere 340

Chair dips 341

Calf raises 342

Single-leg squats 343

Bicep presses 344

Seated hip thrusts 344

Part 4: Nutrition and the “Whole Soldier” Concept 347

Chapter 19: Surveying Army Standards for Height and Weight 349

Taking Stock of Army Height and Weight Requirements 350

Going into the Army Body Composition Program 353

Distinguishing BMI from Body Fat Measurements 354

Chapter 20: Becoming a Lean, Green, Fighting Machine: Principles of Nutrition 357

Dishing on Hunger and Appetite 358

Distinguishing hunger from appetite 358

Hobnobbing with hunger hormones 359

Eating Pre- and Post-Workout 360

Fueling up before working out 360

Getting the right foods after your workout 362

Making ACFT-Smart Dietary Changes 363

Promoting fitness by avoiding diets 363

Incorporating healthier eating habits (without dieting) 363

Chapter 21: Identifying the Building Blocks of Nutrition 365

Choosing the Right Food Groups 365

Setting the table with MyPlate 366

Keeping less healthy options in check 366

Taking Vitamins for a Spin 367

Getting vitamins the old-fashioned way 368

Gauging DRIs and ULs for vitamins 369

Considering special conditions for vitamins 371

Minerals: Mining for Your Body’s Essentials 371

Eating your major minerals 372

Moderating minerals: DRIs and ULs 374

Recognizing who needs more minerals 374

Chewing on Carbs 374

Breaking down simple and complex carbs and dietary fiber 375

Putting your carbs to work for you 375

Addressing Amino Acids and Antioxidants 376

Chapter 22: Drink Water: It’s More Than a Basic Training Chant 379

Understanding How Your Body Uses Water 379

Water is a Necessity, Not a Crutch: Avoiding Dehydration 380

Recognizing the warning signs of dehydration 381

Looking at the effects of dehydration 382

Eyeing Electrolytes 383

Chapter 23: Making Sure Everything You Take In Counts 385

Understanding Metabolic Equivalents 386

Examining How Dietary Changes Can and Can’t Help You Drop Weight 387

Safely slashing calories to lose weight 389

Ignoring the crowd following popular diets 390

Getting the Skinny on Cholesterol and Unhealthy Fats 391

Cholesterol 391

Are you a good fat or a bad fat? 392

Taking a Drive through Fast Food 393

Nutritional composition of fast foods 393

Eating smart while dining out 395

Considering Coffee, Energy Drinks, and Alcohol 396

The best part of waking up (and the rest of the day): Savoring coffee’s benefits 396

Loading up on caffeine through energy drinks 397

Thinking before you drink: Alcohol’s effects on your system 397

Cracking Down on Supplements 399

Protein pow(d)er: Scrutinizing protein supplements 399

Shunning pre-workout supplements 400

Chapter 24: Eating Right 403

Dishing up Basic Dietary Guidelines for Soldiers 404

Helping Yourself to Healthy Eating Patterns 405

Putting the brakes on sodium, saturated and trans fats, and added sugars 406

Playing with portion control 407

Treat yo’ self: Giving yourself a pass to indulge sometimes 408

Part 5: The Part of Tens 409

Chapter 25: Ten Surefire Ways to Fail the ACFT 411

Choosing Not to Work Out 411

Failing to Know How to Do Each Event 412

Falling off the Fitness Wagon before the Test 412

Practicing for the Wrong Events 412

Drinking Alcohol the Night before the Test 413

Forgetting to Hydrate 413

Forgetting to Fuel Up 413

Missing the Mark on Height and Weight 414

Taking Pre-Workout or Other Potentially Unsafe Supplements Before the Test 414

Committing Safety Violations or Faults 414

Chapter 26: Ten Tips for Maxing Out Your Score on the ACFT 415

Putting in Extra Effort and Committing to Getting a 600 415

Training As You Test 416

Doing Cardio and Strength Training Leading Up to the Test 416

Getting Hard-Core with Your Core 416

Practicing at Least One Event Every Day 417

Tracking Your Progress 417

Using High-Quality Fuel 417

Hydrating before and during the ACFT 417

Getting Enough Sleep before the Test 418

Using All the Info You Have to Your Advantage 418

Chapter 27: Ten Ways to Change up Your Exercise Routine 419

Using (Or Ditching) the Buddy System 419

Mixing up Your Personal Speed 420

Getting Creative with Exercises 420

Playing Mood Music 420

Going Backward Once in a While 420

Switching Locations 421

Dialing up the Intensity 421

Trying Group Fitness 421

Downloading an App 421

Playing Games 422

Chapter 28: Ten Ways to Cut Calories without Starving 423

Don’t Drink Your Calories 423

Fill Your Water Reserves Before You Eat 424

Switch to Lowfat Versions of Your Favorite Foods 424

Don’t Buy Junk Food 424

Cook at Home 424

Lighten up on the Condiments 425

Set the Table with Smaller Plates 425

Try Low-Cal Appetizers at Home 425

Never Eat out of the Container 425

Don’t Force Yourself to Clean Your Plate 426

Appendix: Fill-In-The-Blanks Workout Calendar 427

Index 429

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