Adherence to precise execution standards. Commonly referred to as “form,” the way that you move while training should reinforce and strengthen the movement patterns you use while “playing your sport” -- aka you should move with proper form. For the sake of clarity, we’ll call this precision.
The six-event ACFT requires you to do more than run relatively slow in a straight line and sloppily flex the trunk (repeated execution of an awful movement pattern like the sit-up). Instead, you have the opportunity to train for this test like an athlete: you’ll learn to conduct full-body, compound movements through each of the movement planes (frontal, sagittal, and transverse). Moreover, you’ll learn to conduct these movements under load or against an external resistance.
THE PRECISE PATTERN 6
While training for the ACFT (or simply training to be a healthy human), you’ll need to build and reinforce precise movement patterns for the following 7 movements:
THE PRECISE PATTERN 6
We’re talking about bending at the hips. This is a strange scenario, but if I were stranded on a desert island and could only choose one type of barbell exercise to conduct in order to stay strong, healthy, and injury-proof my body, I would choose exercises that required me to hinge at the hips. Why? Exercises like the deadlift, romanian deadlift (RDL), good morning, and kettlebell swing contribute to strong glutes, hamstrings, and backs (not to mention the benefit to your grip, shoulder, and trunk strength). Hinging is also foundational to conducting explosive movements like jumping and barbell cleans. Remember when your football coach told you to “bring the hips?” This is how you learn to bring it with authority.
While the hinge is a “hip-dominant” exercise, the squat is “knee-dominant” and even though it is not directly tested on the ACFT, the squat is essential to increasing our ability to perform Soldier tasks and battle drills. No need to throw the barbell on your back to start back squatting now… can you get in the proper position without an external load? Test your air squat. You may need to progress from air squats to goblet squats to front squats to back squats. Remember that proper mechanics come before heavy loads.
Feet about shoulder width apart
Hips back first like you are sitting in a chair
Toes somewhere between straight in front of you and rotated out to 30 degrees
Knees out, thighs tracking in line with your feet
Neutral head position and a neutral, rigid spine
If you’re just starting out, squat deep! This is your opportunity to learn to squat the right way before your ego gets in the way.
PUSH AND PULL
We’ve got to push and pull both horizontally and vertically in order to maintain healthy function of our shoulders and backs. That means at a minimum:
Horizontal presses like the bench press and push up
Vertical presses like the overhead press and handstand push up
Horizontal pulls like the bent over row
Vertical pulls like the pull up
While unilateral (single leg/arm) versions of each of the aforementioned patterns can and should be integrated into your training, the lunge is a particularly important movement pattern because of the unique requirements placed on a single side of the body at one time. Lunge movements require balance, coordination, and strength; patterning this movement, especially under appropriate loads, will contribute significantly to identifying and correcting imprecise patterns and preventing injury. One of the best variations of the lunge: the step up.
So far, we’ve highlighted movements that require us to move forwards and backwards or up and down; otherwise known as moving through the sagittal plane. How many warrior tasks and battle drills occur exclusively in the sagittal plane? Not many. Simple movements like the high knee lunge-twist and spiderman elbow drop are fantastic warmups and will reinforce your ability to move dynamically with precision. You can also conduct loaded rotational exercises like the following:
There’s a lot of different ways to get from point A to point B, and we’ve got to deliberately train them. This includes efforts to improve running mechanics and efficiency, but we’ve also got to consider the mechanics of change of direction, jumping and landing, sled drags and pushes, and load carriage (Rucking, Farmer’s Carry, zercher carry, etc). Your ability to conduct clean, efficient, dynamic locomotion depends on your ability to learn the precise motor patterns described above. If you’re not a “natural” when it comes to events like the “Sprint-Drag-Carry,” patterning each of the 6 movements above must be part of the recipe for improving your dynamic locomotion.
ONE FINAL NOTE:
With the exception of dynamic locomotion, we can clearly define what each of these 7 movements should look like. With the links above and others shared via the additional resources page, you can start practicing and patterning precise movement. If you don't have a coach, start filming yourself -- carefully examine your movement and take note of the areas in which you can improve -- get a little bit better each time you practice. Over time, you'll find that by refining your movement patterns, your ability to conduct dynamic locomotion will become more and more efficient and effortless.
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