Staff Sgt. Matthew Weller (left), Cpl. Jacob Brown (center), and Sgt. Patrick Montgomery (right), 170th Support Maintenance Company, Wichita, workout with exercise machines and free weights to prepare for the new Army Combat Fitness Test during their spare time at annual training in Fort Polk, Louisiana, May 23.

New APFT prompting Soldiers to up their game

By Sgt. Michael Steed
105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

It’s no secret that the Army has a new physical fitness test coming soon. The old test is being revamped and replaced by the Army Combat Fitness Test with six events rather than the current three. The new test includes three repetition maximum dead-lift, standing power throw, hand-release push-up, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck and two-mile run, the only event carried over from the old test. The new test will give even the most physically fit Soldiers a run for their money.

“I am happy for a change,” said Sgt. Patrick Montgomery, 170th Support Maintenance Company, Wichita. “The old PT is getting boring.”

Cpl. Jacob Brown, 170th Support Maintenance Company, Wichita, performs a dead lift during a workout at annual training in Fort Polk, Louisiana, May 23, in preparation for the new Army Combat Fitness Test events.

The ACFT had its first field tests in early October 2018 and the entire Army will be required to take two diagnostic ACFTs six months apart, beginning in October 2019. With Guard and Reserve units only meeting once a month, leaders have faced additional struggles in adequately training Soldiers on the new events.

“General Mohatt pushed units to prepare for the first quarter diagnostic test, which caused me to backward plan for the ACFT,” said Capt. Sarah Patterson, commander of the 170th SMC.

Patterson, a full-time registered nurse, reached out to her civilian colleagues Kristi and Jonathan Brewer, who are physical therapists at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.

The Brewers came to the 170th’s May drill to help Soldiers better understand form and technique. They broke down each exercise for the Soldiers, worked on body technique and did on-the-spot corrections with each Soldier. The duo even agreed to return to the 170th from time to time for continued education with the unit.

“May drill was a safety stand down month and we really wanted the Soldiers to be engaged,” said Patterson. “Bringing in the physical therapists is how we did it.”

Several Soldiers took the knowledge gained during May drill and incorporated it into their annual training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, May 18 – June 1.

A large parking lot across the street from the Soldiers’ barracks made a perfect location for practicing exercises. There was also a gym within walking distance with free weights and machines for the Soldiers to practice proper form.

For many Soldiers, the newly incorporated dead-lift event may prove to be more challenging than the others.

“We have been working out for six months working on this test,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Weller, readiness noncommissioned officer of the 170th SMC. “Dead-lifting more than their body weight will be rough on a lot of Soldiers.”

Yet, leaders like Patterson and the Soldiers of the 170th have fully embraced preparing for these changes.

“This is a crawl, walk, run phase situation,” said Patterson. “My intent is that we crawl until the diagnostic [ in October 2019,] then walk to 100 percent pass the first year.”