Idaho Army National Guard prepares for new combat fitness test

Idaho Guardsman lifts her way to record-setting achievements

Story by Crystal Farris
Idaho Army National Guard

In October, the new Army Combat Fitness Test will be introduced throughout its ranks. Within the following 12 months, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers are expected to complete one not-for-record ACFT before it becomes the official for-record test in October 2020.

To prepare, the Idaho Army National Guard is taking a deliberate but active approach to ease logistical concerns, limit injuries and ensure overall success, said Command Sgt. Maj. Scott White, State Command Sergeant Major.

“Currently we are in the crawl phase of this transition,” said White. “We want to approach this methodically to take the Soldiers’ uncertainty out of it and provide units a comfort level before they even start thinking about running a test.”

Over the last six months, master fitness trainers have demonstrated the new test for units throughout the state. The demonstrations offer Soldiers insight into expectations and how to accurately conduct the six-event test.

During a demonstration on Gowen Field August 3, Soldiers with the state’s Joint Forces Headquarters had the opportunity to attempt events and receive feedback on form and ways to achieve better results.

“I think it may have been a shock to some of our Soldiers that there is such a contrast in physical demands between the current Army Physical Fitness Test and the ACFT,” said 1st Sgt. Valerie Walts. “Once we attempted some of the events a lot of them were a bit surprised how draining performing the entire test in a timed setting is going to be.”

The new test events are the three-repetition maximum deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release push-up, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck and two-mile run. They require different techniques and body mechanics than the current three-event APFT does, explained Staff Sgt. Esteban Gonzalez, the state’s lead MFT. It also requires various types of equipment, unlike the APFT that requires none.

This fall, Idaho will receive approximately 800 lanes of equipment that include hexagon barbells, nylon drag sleds and medicine balls. The fielding will bring the Idaho Army National Guard into its walk-phase of the fitness transition by enabling it to conduct diagnostic tests and certify Soldiers who will be responsible for grading it.

However, there are ways individuals can train on their own now and with little to no equipment. Guidance on exercises, drills and sample training aids can be found at The website also offers other resources such as the Center for Army Lessons Learned Manual, an equipment list and a testing manual.

It is important Soldiers understand their current physical abilities and start training while there is still time, Gonzalez said. MFTs can provide Soldiers personal training advice and help units prepare by offering training plans and certifying graders.

“We strongly recommend using the MFTs and our demonstrations so that when it comes time to conduct the ACFT Soldiers are comfortable and ready,” he said. “MFTs are one of the best benefits available to Soldiers. As long as individuals are dedicated to showing up, the MFTs are willing to work with them.”
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