June 15, 2024

Decoding Fitness in the Military: The ACFT Debate | Open Comms


Join us as we dive into the world of military fitness on the Open Comms podcast, hosted by military veterans Zach Bell and Erik Bartell. In this episode, Zach and Erik tackle the hot-button issue of the Army’s new fitness test, the ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test). With insights drawn from the fitness industry, a deep dive into the limitations of the traditional APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test), and a glimpse into the future of fitness within the Army, this video offers a unique perspective on a highly contentious topic.

Navigating the Terrain: Congress, ACFT, and Backpedaling:

Zach and Erik delve into the Senate’s recent efforts to potentially backtrack on the ACFT. Despite the Army’s massive investment in the new fitness test, Congress is considering a return to the APFT, leaving many perplexed. Erik points out that the root cause is often a lack of understanding about fitness and military requirements among the Senate members. This insight sheds light on the uphill battle the military faces in evolving its fitness standards.

The ACFT: A Comprehensive Fitness Challenge:

The ACFT, designed to gauge soldiers’ fitness levels comprehensively, incorporates a range of exercises from deadlifts to sled drags. The hosts commend its diverse components, acknowledging its potential to better assess soldiers’ overall capabilities. Erik underscores the ACFT’s value by comparing it to CrossFit, a discipline that transformed into a fitness regimen embraced by a wide demographic, proving that functional fitness holds immense potential.

Unpacking the APFT: Limitations and Evolution:

Erik and Zach critically analyze the limitations of the traditional APFT, a test that, although familiar, did not accurately reflect the physical demands of military roles. The hosts share that while the APFT focused on easily trainable elements like push-ups and sit-ups, the ACFT emphasizes functional strength, aerobic endurance, and complex movements. They highlight the military’s need for evolving fitness standards, echoing the sentiment that stagnation is not an option.

Path Forward: One Standard for All:

The conversation shifts towards solutions, and Zach highlights the House’s proposal of a unified fitness standard across all combat-related roles. This approach disregards gender, age, or other factors, focusing solely on the demands of the job. Erik supports this move, aligning with the military’s purpose of training soldiers to excel in combat situations. They emphasize that this unified standard, despite its initial challenges, aligns with the military’s mission and evolution.

Holistic Fitness: A Promising Direction:

Erik points out that the Army’s shift towards a holistic fitness and wellness program (h2f) is a positive step in the right direction. This initiative prioritizes nutrition and sleep, showing the Army’s commitment to preventive measures for overall health. Zach and Erik advocate for the Senate to allow the military to follow this path, highlighting the need for an understanding of the holistic approach to fitness.

Conclusion: Shaping the Future of Military Fitness:

In this engaging video excerpt from the Open Comms podcast, Zach Bell and Erik Bartell bring to the forefront the complexities surrounding military fitness standards. The Senate’s potential backpedaling on the ACFT highlights the need for better understanding and support from the legislative side. As the Army embraces holistic fitness and evolves its standards to mirror the demands of modern warfare, the conversation underscores the crucial role that informed decisions play in shaping the future of military fitness.

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