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Army Physical Fitness and Combat Readiness Tests

The new Army fitness assessments measure more than just push ups


Updated June 19, 2014

The Rower Exercise

The Rower Exercise

photo courtesy of TRADOC
After more than 20 years of the standard fitness tests and drills, the Army has changed its fitness assessment for every enlisted soldier and recruit in the force. The new Army Physical Fitness and Combat Readiness Tests include a variety of challenging whole body exercises as well as a new obstacle course.

The old version of the test that included basic push ups, sit ups and running drills is out, and what has replaced it is a challenging circuit of agility exercises, including sprints, jumps, slalom runs, balance beam walks, heavy bag drags and heavy carrying. The new version looks a lot like a Crossfit training session with a barrage of whole-body movements, heavy lifting and high-intensity anaerobic challenges.

Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT)

The goal of the new Army Fitness Test is to align the training and the tests with tasks that Soldiers have to perform on the battlefield. So, while there are still a few of the basic exercises, such as push ups and sit ups, they come with a unique twist and some additional whole body movements. The current Army Physical Fitness Test includes the following exercises:
  1. 60-yard shuttle run
  2. One minute of “the rower”
  3. Standing long jump
  4. One minute of pushups
  5. 1.5 mile run

Army Combat Readiness Test (ACRT)

In addition to the Physical Fitness Test, there is a new Army Combat Readiness Test intended to better simulate the real world scenarios combat soldiers see during deployment.The Army Combat Readiness Test combines a variety of task and challenges that look more like a Crossfit Workout that a traditional series of push ups and sit ups. The change is long-overdue and helps provide a more accurate assessment of the overall physical readiness of an individual.

What's involved? The test is done with the soldier wearing the standard Army Combat Uniform, which includes a helmet and carrying a weapon. Once geared up, the soldier completes the following drills over an established course. Refer to image 2 (above) for a diagram of the course lay out.

  1. 400-meter run while carrying a weapon
  2. Low hurdles
  3. High crawl
  4. Under and over
  5. Casualty drag
  6. Balance beam ammo carry
  7. Point-aim-move
  8. 100 yard ammo can sprints
  9. Agility sprints
  10. Several other movement drills
  11. In addition, the soldier must complete one full minute of the “the rower” exercise — a cross between a sit-up and a crunch, one full minute of pushups and a long jump.

The Rower Exercise

The exercise replacing the standard sit up exercise, is called "the rower" exercise. This movement is a cross between a sit-up and a crunch, and looks a lot like something you'd do in a Pilates classes. 

How to Do the Rower Exercise

If you want to add this unique core exercise to your fitness routine, learn how to do it right. (See picture #1 above).
  1. Start by laying flat on your back with your arms and legs extended. 
  2. Keep your feet together with your toes pointing up.
  3. Keep your arms extended over your head with your palms facing each other. 
  4. Start the exercise by contracting your core and bringing your arms and legs together. Try to do this in one smooth movement, but if you lead with your upper body, that's ok as well.
  5. At the finish, you should have your arms extended directly in front of you at shoulder level, your knees bent at 90 degrees or more, and your feet should be be flat of the ground and pulled in close to your rear end, similar to a regular sit up position.  
  6. That's one rep. Return to the start position in a smooth, controlled movement and get ready for rep number two.
  7. * Keep in mind that the Army Physical Fitness Test doesn't allow any rest between reps for the full minute, so work your way to a continuous one minute of rowers.
  8. * Refer to image 1 (above) for correct positioning and movement. 

The new versions of the Army Fitness Tests are good to see. In fact, these assessments could even be the basis for a general over-all conditioning program. So if you need some new ideas for a full body workout, just take a cue from the military and try this assessment in place of your usual workout. You might even discover some muscles you didn't know you had.

TRADOC revises Army Physical Fitness Test. U.S. Army, http://www.army.mil/article/52548/ last accessed May 2012.

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