Updated: Oct 14, 2019
New test, same 2 Mile Run
In October of 2020 the Army will officially replace the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), used to assess Soldier fitness since 1980, with the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). Unlike the APFT, which only measures aerobic and muscular endurance, the ACFT will also assess Soldiers’ muscular strength, anaerobic endurance, coordination, trunk stability, and power. The move to the ACFT signals the Army’s commitment to follow through on its many initiatives to increase combat readiness. In the physical domain, the ACFT will drive a new type of physical readiness training that is far more comprehensive than the current status quo. Senior Army leaders believe the shift in training focus will enhance combat readiness and reduce injury and attrition.
That’s all good news; but show me a Soldier that’s really excited about the deadlift event on the new ACFT, and I’ll show you a Soldier that’s really disappointed that the 2 mile run is still the primary assessment of aerobic fitness. So while we’re training to get stronger, we can’t forget about the need to maintain high levels of aerobic endurance. In fact, high levels of aerobic endurance should probably be the foundation of our combat-focused fitness.
This does not mean that we advocate a 5 mile release run down Ardennes every Monday
Use a combination of long, slow distance training (LSD), tempo training, and aerobic interval training (AIT) to yield the most increases in performance adaptations.
LSD - Long, slow distance training at a moderate intensity
How: Greater than race distance by at least 30 minutes
Why: This is a deliberate focus on building the base and it results in some important adaptations that carry over to other components of fitness -- increased ability to recover, increased stroke volume, mitochondrial density, and oxidative capacity.
Tempo Training - Moderate-Duration, High-Intensity Training at intensities higher than race pace, at or slightly above lactate threshold
What: 20 to 30 minutes of continuous work at varying intensities; induces both aerobic and anaerobic adaptations
How: Can use interval approach - Fartlek - combination of LSD and pace/tempo training (70% VO2max combined with short bouts of 85 to 90% VO2max)
Why: Train slow, run slow - if you always run at a long, slow distance pace, don’t expect to pick up much time on your 2 mile run. Instead, mix in some runs faster than race pace and train your body to move faster!
Short-Duration, High-Intensity Training
What: Intensity at or above VO2max for 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
How: Work:Rest ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 - use a variety to increase volume and intensity over time.
Why: Increase lactate threshold and muscle-buffering capacity; similar benefits to LSD, but in less time -- potentially less stress on the body.
Where does aerobic training fit in a comprehensive training plan? How often should we train for aerobic endurance? What’s the best way to train concurrently for the different components of fitness assessed during the ACFT? Check out ArmyCombatFitnessTest.com for answers to these questions, ACFT standards, ACFT scoring, and the training principles you’ll need to dominate the ACFT.
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