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Class teaches how to prepare for new Army Combat Fitness Test

By David DeKunder | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Nov. 1, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

Approximately 50 servicemembers learned about the standards for the Army’s newest fitness test and the proper techniques for preparing and training for it during a class held at the Vogel Resiliency Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Oct. 31.

The Army Combat Fitness Test Fitness Leaders Class included classroom instruction at the VRC and hands-on demonstrations at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston running track for Army physical trainers and master fitness trainers who lead and conduct physical training for their units.

The class was a collaborative effort between the Army Wellness Center at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, the U.S. Army-Baylor University Doctoral in Physical Therapy Program at Brooke Army Medical Center and the BAMC clinical health psychology department.

In October 2020, the Army Combat Fitness Test will replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test as the one Army servicemembers will need to meet the requirements of to pass each year.

Patrice Hickey, Army Wellness Center director, said the Army Combat Fitness Test will test servicemembers on six exercises and skills they will need to utilize in a combat setting, compared to the Army Physical Fitness Test, which tested servicemembers on general fitness standards such as muscle and aerobic endurance.

“The idea is to really emphasize to them the training concepts that are going to help them do well,” Hickey said. “We have all of these units that are really kind of focused on preparing themselves to go from years and years and years of training to do a run, pushups and setups,” Hickey said. “And then all of sudden being introduced to six combat types of assessments that are really going to require a lot more speed, power, agility, components of fitness that we haven’t necessarily emphasized before.”

Providing class instruction were interns in the U.S. Army-Baylor University Doctoral in Physical Therapy Program.

Maj. Jon Umlauf, U.S. Army-Baylor University Doctoral in Physical Therapy Program internship director, said class instructors provided the proper techniques for unit physical fitness leaders and master fitness leaders to train servicemembers to get ready for the test. The interns conducted the physical training at the running track.

“What we are doing here is a hands-on demonstration of the Army Combat Fitness Test,” Umlauf said.

The six exercises servicemembers will need to perform to pass the Army Combat Fitness Test are the three rep max deadlift, throwing a 10-pound ball overhead, a pushup that involves dropping to the ground and extending the arms out to the side, sprint drag carry, leg tuck and a timed two-mile run.

Umlauf said the Army Combat Fitness Test will change the way the Army is going to test the physical fitness and readiness of service members to perform in a combat or deployed setting.

“It’s a big change to how we’ve trained and prepared Soldiers,” he said. “We want to make sure that everyone that’s going to be organizing and running physical training feels comfortable. We want to get them familiar with the tests, but we also want them to be prepared to train their units. That’s really what this class was about was how do we make sure they know the resources that are available in the hospital and in the community, and then also how do they prepare a fitness and training schedule for the units and how they are supposed to execute this.”

Over the past year, BAMC was a pilot site in which the practice version of the Army Combat Fitness Test was conducted. Within the next year, Umlauf said all Army units will be required to take two practice versions of the test before it is expected to become mandatory in October 2020. 

Hickey said the class also covered information on resources provided by the Army Wellness Center, including injury prevention. The BAMC clinical health psychology department included information on behavioral aspects of performance because it could affect how a servicemember does on the test.

The idea for the first ever Army Combat Fitness Test Fitness Leaders Class came from the Health and Wellness Working Group, which is part of the Commander’s Ready and Resilient Council at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. The council consists of unit commanders at the post.

Hickey is a member of the Health and Wellness Working Group. She explained the purpose of the group’s work.

“Our efforts as far as a community standpoint is to really try to engage with what active-duty servicemembers are going to need to perform well on this new test,” Hickey said.