A Detailed 6 Month ACFT Training Plan

Lose Fat, Gain Muscle, And Increase Endurance

How You Can Prepare And Pass The ACFT In Less Than 6 Months

No Matter Where Your Fitness Level Is Now!

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It wasn’t long ago that the Army created and released the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) and sent a lot of people into shock.

With the old testing standards it was easier to start working out a month before your test and still be prepared enough to pass. Now with the new standards there is a lot more preparation involved.

To most, it feels like it will be impossible to pass but for others just a little bit of extra work will get you ready. With a lot of time to prepare we can help make the impossible, probable.

There are a lot of different training plans out there. They can range from 4 weeks to 16 weeks, but none are focused on those who are truly out of shape and need a lot of help. This training plan also serves to help someone who is already in shape but just needs to dial in on the particular exercises they are unfamiliar with. If you’ve been looking around for a plan to fit your needs, we have the answer right here.

This training plan covers the details of 3 key training phases:

  • Base phase – Learning the movements and finding out where you are with the different tests
  • Growth phase – Steadily increasing training loads/weights and pushing
  • Maintenance phase – Hit the mark and maintain your level of fitness

 

Each of the details surrounding these phases are also accompanied by advice on training mentality, time management, and nutrition & diet.

Before diving into the details of an ACFT training schedule, there are a few mental checks you must make.

I’ve made the mental checks,  just send me straight to the plan!

The 6 Month ACFT Training Plan

A detailed look into a 6 month ACFT training plan. Inside, you’ll find over 30 pages of essential strength training, nutrition guidance, and other tips to get you prepared for the Army Combat Fitness Test!

The mental challenges of the new fitness test

The biggest challenge here is being consistent. It’s getting back to training after a week long vacation, finding time when work is busy, or staying on track when life gets out of control. The ability to stay focused and stick to the plan will help you stay confident all the up to and through your fitness test.

The days leading up to the test will drain you emotionally, but it’s the 6 months prior to that day where you are tested daily takes place.

Time required to train for the ACFT in 6 months

Well, it should already say something that it’s difficult to find an ACFT training plan less than 1 year long. The short answer to how much time is required to train for the ACFT is… well, not much. Your training will consist of anywhere from 4-6 hours per week, depending on where you are in your training phases.

Add those hours to your already existing 40 hour work week, commute, errands, chores, time with your family and that little thing we call sleep, there should be plenty of room for this training each day.

There are a few things you can do, however, to lessen the burden on your every day life.

 

  1. Learn to like waking up early
    There are a lot less hurdles early in the morning. Less traffic, not getting stuck at work late, no kids activities, less exhausted after a long day, etc.
  2. Utilize your lunch hour
    If you work in a place that allows some flexibility during lunch, utilize this time for something other than food! You can easily squeeze in an hour run (+ shower), and then eat at your desk later on.
  3. Have a military-like post-work routine
    After work is one of the hardest times to get a workout in. You’ve got all sorts of things happening after work on any given day, so having a detailed routine where you can park your car and within 20 minutes be out the door for a quick workout or a run will be a life saver.
  4. Get used to saying “No, I can’t, I have to train.”
    The reality of a 6 month ACFT training schedule, is that you’ll have to say no to more than you think. No to happy hours, staying out late, brunch, vacations where you can’t workout. Getting buy-in from friends and family will go a long way to being able to focus on your training.
  5. Get your warm-up & cool-down integrated into your workouts
    Instead of having to set aside separate time to stretch and strengthen your muscles, try to incorporate a standard warm-up and cool-down into your routines.

The diet required to train for the ACFT

One thing that will almost 100% happen during your training, you’ll learn just how much you can actually eat in a day.

Let’s take the guess work out – go right to the plan and nutrition coaching bundle!

The reality is that most people have no idea how many calories of what macros they consume on a daily basis. In preparation for this type of training, spend a few weeks meticulously tracking your food intake using something like MyFitnessPal to get a sense of where you currently stand.

That will help you understand how much more you’ll likely have to start consuming once training begins.

There are dozens of articles that you can find from dietitians and nutritionists on exactly what ratios you should have for carbs vs protein vs fats, but regardless of what your percentage works out to be, the key to this is to eat real food.

Real food consists of nuts, seeds, meat, vegetables, and fruit (mainly). It absolutely does not consist of anything containing processed sugar. A good rule of thumb, is to shop around the outside of the grocery store and avoid the aisles. If it has an expiration date of it that’s more than a few weeks away, chances are you can afford to stay away from it.

Processed foods will do nothing but slow you down (both physically and in recovery). The only exception to this would be a high quality protein powder to incorporate into shakes before bed, or immediately following intense training days.

Also, it’s time to get used to meal prepping. Using a Sunday as a workout rest day to prep your breakfasts, lunches & dinners for the upcoming week, will be several hours well spent. During the week when you’re rushing home from work only to immediately train, the last thing you’ll want to do after that is cook. It’s much easier to grab a pre-measured tupperware from the fridge and chow-down, then it is to cook through hunger. Plus, food prep will help you spend more time with your family, hobbies, or simply relaxing during the week. Something you’ll greatly appreciate, even if it does eat up a weekend afternoon.

The 6 Month ACFT Training Plan

A detailed look into a 6 month ACFT training plan. Inside, you’ll find over 30 pages of essential strength training, nutrition guidance, and other tips to get you prepared for the Army Combat Fitness Test!

Ok, now that we’ve covered how much time this might take, as well as general changes you’ll need to make to your routine and diet, it’s time to discuss what an 8-week training schedule for the ACFT looks like physically.

This ACFT training plan is split into 3 distinct phases:

  1. Base Phase
  2. Growth Phase
  3. Maintenance Phase

Each phase will contain lifting, bodyweight, and cardio movements. Although sometimes in a lower intensity strength format other times will be in a high intensity metabolic condition (HIIT) format.

The goal here is to be able to train 4-6 times per week and not overdo it. Recovery is extremely important so throwing in random rest days will be crucial.

The Base Phase

This phase is designed simply to get your body used to what this training schedule will feel like. The main focus here is to keep the weights light and really dial in on your technique with all of the different exercises. Increasing the weights for different movements can’t happen until your form is good otherwise you significantly increase the chance of injury. This will show you what training 4-6 times per week will do to your schedule, but it will do it at low weight/intensity so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Your exercises for the 6 activity categories in the Learning Phase, will look like this:

  • Deadlift – building posterior chain strength through deadlifts, squats, and hamstring strength exercises
  • Standing Power Throw – box jumps, wall balls, kettlebell swings to build hip flexor strength and explosive hip movements
  • Push-ups – push up exercises, pulling exercises to build shoulder, back, and chest strengths
  • Sprint Drag Carry – short intense HITT workouts that require moving odd objects
  • Leg Tuck – pull ups, toes to bar, and core exercises
  • Run – interval cardio training utilizing rowing, running and/or biking

Now, how will all of this break down by day? In the below table, you’ll be able to see where “X marks the spot”.

Thursdays and Sundays will be your rest/active recovery days. These days are great for taking the time to work on your nutrition. It is also helpful when scheduling for the week. If you prefer to lift heavy in the evening and do your runs in the mornings you can schedule this each week accordingly.

The Base Phase is admittedly optional for some athletes. If you can already easily do most of these movements well, you can skip straight to the Strength Phase. If you’re not quite there yet, then the Acclimation Phase is where you should begin.

Weight training

All lifting/weight training during this and subsequent phases will be heavily focused on lower body, and core strength. Short of the deadlift portion, ACFT is predominantly conditioning test, so your cardio and endurance of such muscles will be critical to your success.

The squats will also be based off of a 1 rep max. If you’re accustomed to squatting and know your 1 rep max, you can use the percentages in the chart below to calculate your working sets. If you’re relatively new to the movement, avoid doing a 1 rep max and instead, use a perceived rate of exertion where by the lower percentages (60%, etc.) should take little-moderate effort, and each week, you can increase by 5-10 lbs (as necessary)to increase the challenge.

On Tuesdays and Fridays during this phase, you’ll be doing the heavy barbell strength work.

Following each strength portion there will be accessory work to help with your core.

For your Base Phase, your strength schedule will look like this:

The Growth and Maintenance Phase

After getting a handle on the schedule during the Base Phase, and deciding you’re committed to 8 weeks of dedicated ACFT training, it’s time to explore the next phase of your 6-month ACFT training plan, the Growth Phase.

This phase is designed to increase your baseline of fitness to that of the volume and load where you peaked in the Base Phase. The conditioning should be better and your weightlifting loads should be higher. By the end of this phase, you should feel comfortable taking the test. The conditioning workouts should get tougher and be a little uncomfortable if you are pushing as hard as you should be. From there, during the Maintenance Phase, you can rest assured that your body is ready to handle the increased volume and loads, with a decreased chance of injury.

For some they will finish the 8-week Growth Phase and go straight into the Maintenance phase as long as they feel 100% ready. If you don’t feel ready, repeat the Growth Phase as many times as needed before going into Maintenance phase.

The schedule of training for the Base, Growth, and Maintenance phases will remain the same. Your weekly schedule will look like this:

For your Growth and Maintenance Phase, your strength schedule will look like this:

The 6 Month ACFT Training Plan + Remote Nutrition Coaching Bundle

A detailed look into a 6 month ACFT training plan. Inside, you’ll find over 30 pages of essential strength training, nutrition guidance, and other tips to get you prepared for the Army Combat Fitness Test!

The 6 Month ACFT Training Plan + Remote Nutrition Coaching bundle

Take the guesswork out of exercising and nutrition.  No more figuring out which exercises to do and how much of each.  No more trying to guess how much to eat and how to build a meal plan to make sure you’re ready for the ACFT.

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