Army Combat Fitness Test Preparation Program

Posted by Kettlebell Kings on 2nd Apr 2019

Lifting kettlebells is a great way to prepare you for the Army Combat Fitness Test. Kettlebells are portable and easy to store at home, which makes them an ideal tool to use no matter where you are doing your training. Note that this program is not completely comprehensive -- you may need to add specific training for the leg tuck, sled drag, sprints and lateral shuffles, and two-mile run, as well as skill practice throwing the 10 lb ball. However, the strength and explosive power you will build with kettlebell training will greatly increase your ability to tackle all portions of the ACFT. 

Get instant access to hundreds of free kettlebell movement demos for better workouts here!

The double suitcase deadlift will improve your strength for the 3-repetition maximum deadlift as well as the sled drag. The kettlebell swing, kettlebell jump squat, and double push press will increase explosive hip power for the standing power throw. Kettlebell push ups and double chest presses will aid in the upper body endurance required for the hand release push up event. Farmer carries and bent rows will aid in completion time of the sprint-drag-carry event. The Russian twist and tuck in exercises will increase core strength for the leg tuck event. While it’s ideal to do specific training for the test using a trap bar, sled, and ball, you can still do well on the test if you train solely with kettlebells. If you have questions about any of these movements, you can view demonstrations for free at at our training site Living.Fit!

The ACFT includes the following 6 events:

  • 3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift
  • Standing Power Throw
  • Hand-Release Push Up
  • 250 Meter Sprint, Drag & Carry
  • Leg Tuck
  • Two-Mile Run

Preparatory kettlebell exercises for the ACFT include:

  • Double suitcase deadlift
  • Farmer carry
  • Kettlebell swing
  • Kettlebell jump squat
  • Kettlebell push up
  • Double push press
  • Bent row
  • Double chest press
  • Russian twist
  • Kettlebell tuck in

Get instant access to hundreds of free kettlebell movement demos for better workouts here!

This preparatory kettlebell program will be comprised of 3 training days per week. Day 1 of each week will focus on deadlifts and push ups. Day 2 will train explosive power for the power throw and the sprint-drag-carry. Day 3 will be core-focused, with exercises for the leg tuck as well as the sprint-drag-carry. As outlined in the introduction, this program is not comprehensive, and you should do additional running, sprinting, lateral work, pull up training, and sled drags to be fully prepared for the test. If you have more than 4 weeks to prepare for the test, you can recycle the program and simply increase kettlebell weight and/or time and repetitions.

When choosing what kettlebell weight to start with, err on the side of going too light to start. If you need help choosing, we have a helpful guide here. Learning proper form and how to move the kettlebell efficiently is much more important than how heavy the weight is, especially when you are first starting out. Increasing kettlebell weight should only happen when you are completely proficient with the movements. Once your form is proficient, work on increasing the kettlebell weight by 5-10 lbs (upper body) or 10-20 lbs (lower body) each week. Some of the workouts below specify whether you should increase in weight during the training, and for the ones that don’t specify, please use your own discretion on what weight to use. Since the ACFT will test your 1 repetition maximum, you should especially focus on going heavy on the suitcase deadlifts. 2x40lb kettlebells are used during the carry portion of the test, so try to use 2x40lb or heavier for the farmer carries throughout the program.

If you have questions about any of these movements, you can view demonstrations for free at at our training site Living.Fit!

The Program:

Week 1, Day 1:

Complete 3 supersets:

Double suitcase deadlift 10 reps

Kettlebell floor press 10 reps

Week 1, Day 2:

Complete 4 sets, alternating between exercises:

Double push press 5

Kettlebell swing 10

Kettlebell jump squat 5

Week 1, Day 3:

Complete 3-4 circuits:

Single arm bent row 30’’ per side

Russian twist 30’’

Kettlebell tuck in 30’’

Farmer carry 30’’

Week 2, Day 1: 

Double suitcase deadlift 10-8-6-4-2 reps (increase weight each round as the reps decrease; ensure at least 1-2 minutes of rest between rounds)

Kettlebell tempo push up 5 reps - 3 count down, 3 count hold, 3 count up (complete between sets of deadlift)

Week 2, Day 2:

Alternate between exercises:

Double push press 5-4-3-2-1 (increase weight each round)

Kettlebell swing 5-10-15-20-25 (use the same moderate weight each round)

Kettlebell jump squat 15-12-9-6-3 (use the same moderate weight each round)

Week 2, Day 3:

Complete 3-4 circuits:

Double bent row 30’’

Russian twist 30’’

Kettlebell tuck in 30’’

Single arm farmer carry 30’’ per side

Week 3, Day 1:

Complete 5 sets:

Double suitcase deadlift 8 reps (increase weight each round; at least 1-2 minutes rest between sets)

Kettlebell tempo floor press 5 reps - 3 count up, 3 count hold, 3 count down (complete in between deadlift sets)

Week 3, Day 2:

Complete 4 sets, alternating between exercises:

Double push press 8 (maintain or increase weight each round)

Kettlebell swing 20 (maintain or increase weight each round)

Kettlebell jump squat 15 (maintain or increase weight each round)

Week 3, Day 3:

Complete 3-4 circuits:

Single arm bent row 40’’ per side

Russian twist 40’’

Kettlebell tuck in 40’’

Farmer carry 40’’

Week 4, Day 1:

Complete 5 sets:

Double suitcase deadlift 5 reps (increase weight each round; at least 1-2 minutes rest between sets)

Kettlebell push up 10 (complete in between deadlift sets)

Week 4, Day 2:

Complete 5 sets, alternating between exercises:

Double push press 5 (maintain or increase weight each round)

Kettlebell swing 15 (maintain or increase weight each round)

Kettlebell jump squat 10 (maintain or increase weight each round)

Week 4, Day 3:

Complete 3-4 circuits:

Single arm bent row 50’’ per side

Russian twist 50’’

Kettlebell tuck in 50’’

Farmer carry 50’’