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Report: More Women Fail Army’s Gender-Neutral Fitness Test

Jason Scott

As the U.S. Army prepares to change its current fitness test to the new, gender-neutral Army Combat Fitness Test, a popular Facebook page posted what appear to be leaked slides revealing a disparity in failure rates between men and women.

Military.com reports that the slides, posted by the Facebook page U.S Army W.T.F! Moments, show that 84 percent of women failed to pass the test, compared to 30 percent of men.

Officials said that the slides are not official documents, but Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, the commander at the Army’s Center for Initial Military Testing, acknowledged a difference in failure rates.

“I saw the articles, and especially if you look at some of the blogs, it talked about the failure rates, and we are seeing a difference in failure rates,” Hibbard said at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army. “We have to learn how to train for this test.”

The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is set to replace the long-standing Army Physical Fitness Test for all soldiers beginning in October 2020. The ACFT is based on six events: the 3-repetition max deadlift, the standing power throw, the hand-release push-up, the sprint-drag-carry, the leg tuck and the two-mile run. 

Hibbard said that the new test is “more of a functional fitness test,” compared to the APFT, which was more focused on muscular and cardio endurance. 

The ACFT has been rolled out as part of a year-long field test, which Military.com reports wrapped up at the end of September. Master Sgt. Shelley Horner said that some of the scores from those tests were from soldiers facing the ACFT for the first time.

“Many of them [were] performing the events themselves for the first time, so the scores we have seen were a result of their current fitness experience with those events,” Horner told reporters.

“What we noticed throughout the rest of fiscal year 2019, and so far into 2020, is as soldiers become more familiar with the events and the requirements of the events, they are changing the way that they train and they are improving their scores overall.”

Hibbard likened the ACFT to preparing for a standardized academic exam, such as the SAT.

“You go in the first time, some people do very well on all categories. And some people don’t do well in math and realize they have to study,” Hibbard told Military.com, adding that the “Army will adapt.”

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