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The U.S. Army is cracking down on potential recruits who can’t pass the fitness test

The U.S. Army is cracking down on potential recruits who can’t pass the fitness test
[Photo: Sgt. Justin A. Moeller, 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs/US Army/Flickr]

The U.S. Army wants you–to get fit.

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The military recently announced a new microsite aimed to help potential recruits master the latest reiteration of the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). There, they can access training information, video tutorials, and proper safety technique tips for the rigorous physical test meant to weed out less-combat-ready candidates.

Those interested in enlisting must be able to perform a three-repetition maximum deadlift, a 250-meter sprint-drag-carry, a two-mile run, and two minutes of hand-release push-ups, among other feats. One feat dubbed the “leg tuck” involves a soldier hanging perpendicular to a pull-up bar and bringing his or her knees up to the elbows and back down again.

All exercises, as the site points out, strengthen an area necessary for the battlefield. The deadlift, for example, requires well-conditioned back and leg muscles to help soldiers avoid upper and lower back injuries caused by carrying heavy loads (and potentially injured comrades) for long distances.

In July, the Army announced that its current three-event fitness test–which consists of push-ups, sit-ups, and a two-mile run–was getting a makeover. In its place, this more challenging and strenuous ACFT will go into effect in October 2020. Army personnel believe that’s more than enough time to get into shape.

“If you can’t get in shape in 24 months, then maybe you should hit the road,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told defense reporters last month, reports Military.com. “We don’t want to lose thousands of soldiers to [the ACFT]. This fitness test is hard. No one should be under any illusions about it.”

While such words might sound harsh, Milley was quick to explain that a soldier’s level of physical fitness has a direct impact on his or her combat readiness.

“We really don’t want to lose soldiers on the battlefield,” he continues. “We don’t want young men and women to get killed in action because they weren’t fit.”

The Army decided to overhaul its test following reports of recruits’ low fitness aptitude, which poses a threat to military readiness and, therefore, national security. A research study released by the Citadel in collaboration with the U.S. Army Public Health Center and the American Heart Association found that 27% of American 17- to 24-years olds were too overweight to qualify for military service. Obesity was the second highest disqualifying medical condition.

As expected, an increasing amount of candidates are unprepared for the Army fitness test. The report showed that 47% of males and 59% of females failed the Army’s entry-level physical fitness test while entering basic training.

“While commanding in combat, I saw the effect training-related injuries had on mission accomplishment,” Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, a former commander of U.S. Army Europe, told the Citadel. “In basic training, the number of unfit recruits forced changes to our physical training procedures and dining menus. [The] study provides critical insight into the real national security issues posed by recruits who are less physically fit and less prepared for military service than they have ever been in our history.”

The new Army Combat Fitness Test is currently undergoing its own testing (including how to best judge results) in 60 battalions across every unit type in the Army.

For those looking to add even more military-infused fitness training to their regimen, the U.S. Army also boasts a mobile app that transforms physical training into an immersive game-like experience. C.O.R.E OPS is an audio-fitness app that offers “missions” in an elite Army fighting unit deep in enemy territory. Basically, the military is offering many a way to get new recruits in shape and ready to serve their country.

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