Photo by Marcus Fichtl

The sprint-drag-carry portion of the ACFT is rough. Especially for those of you over 25 who haven't moved quickly in years. This event is especially a bummer for those Officers and Staff NCOs that only move fast if they're getting shot at or trying to leave work for Leave unnoticed.


To excel, you have to be well rounded in strength, endurance and cardio since it's not only challenging, but also the fourth challenge out of six.

Its placement in this test means you'll be fatigued before you even start, making performance more difficult.

If this portion of the ACFT worries you, here are a few tips for improving at the sprint-drag-carry.

Focus on your weak points in training

How to train for the ACFT and the Sprint Drag Carry

This is obvious... No? Just think before you waste your precious PT time.

Photo by Spc. Alonzo Clark

The sprint-drag-carry test is meant to test your agility and strength endurance, so you'll need to train for both. But, there's a good chance that you're better at one of these variables than the other.

If you know that your strength is better than your endurance, the farmer's walk and sled drag portions of this test probably won't be too difficult, but the sprints and side shuffles might be.

If that's the case, you should continue strength training but make a special effort to perform sprints, and longer distance runs to build up your endurance whenever possible.

Use a goal oriented approach to bring up your weak areas.

Match the demands of the test in your training

How to train for the ACFT and the Sprint Drag Carry

If you aren't training how you plan to fight then you might as well lay down now.

U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Amy Carle

The sprint-drag-carry test alternates between the sprint and strength-focused exercises. For instance, the test starts with a down and back sprint and then requires the 90lb weighted sled drag.

A good way to train for the demands of this portion of the test is to mimic this alternate format in your training by pairing high-intensity sprints or exercises with resistance movements.

Some good pairings might include:

  • 30-second bike sprint + kettlebell front squat x 15 reps
  • 20 medicine ball squat thrusters + barbell deadlift x 5 reps
  • 50-meter sprint + weighted walking lunges x 10 each leg

Using this type of training will help you build strength endurance but also prepare you for the kind of effort you'll need to put forth during the test.

Try out HITT or HIIT.

Work on your quads and calves

How to train for the ACFT and the Sprint Drag Carry

Some specific work for highly-fatiguable muscles will to make your life easier on test day.

Photo by Kevin Fleming

Believe me when I say that the heavy backward sled drag is one of the more challenging movements in the entire ACFT test, and it's going to burn the hell out of your quads and calves. But that's not the worst part; you still have to run two miles after doing this test.

To prepare, spend time specifically training both your quads and calves. I'd recommend training with moderate resistance and high rep ranges if possible, like 15-30 reps or more.

Training with this type of rep range is going to work your quads and calves close to how the sled drag will and doing so will help prepare you to endure the pain you're going to have to push through.

Practice heavier and longer farmer’s carries

How to train for the ACFT and the Sprint Drag Carry

You don't need to be a farmer you just need to pick up some heavy stuff and walk.

Photo by Pfc. Kelsey Simmons

Farmer's carries are a straightforward exercise but a challenging one. Fortunately, training them is easy, though.

The test requires that you carry two 40lb kettlebells for a total distance of 50 meters. In your training, you should go heavier and for longer distances.

By teaching your body to hold heavier weight for a longer time, that 50-meter carry will feel like you're bringing in a bag of groceries from the car.

Use intensity in your training to make the test feel easy.

Practice the sprint-drag-carry when you're fatigued

How to train for the ACFT and the Sprint Drag Carry

Only training when your fresh is a sure-fire way to ensure you get kicked in the mental toughness organ come test day.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Casey Hustin, 17th Field Artillery Brigade

The sprint-drag-carry portion of the ACFT test is challenging in its own right, but remember that it's the fourth test, which means you're going to be fatigued before you even start.

When you practice the sprint-drag-carry in training, you do want to train this test when you're fresh since doing so will allow you to put forth the maximum effort and, as a result, make maximum improvements.

But, it would be best if you still were prepared to perform at a high level when you're fatigued. To prepare, perform the sprint-drag-carry training after you've done some demanding workouts.

Practicing the sprint-drag-carry after regular training will help you understand how to perform under fatigue and also know which of the five sections of this test will be the most difficult when you're fatigued.

Knowing these details can help you determine which sections of the test will require the most improvement.

Train each section separately

How to train for the ACFT and the Sprint Drag Carry

email me at michael@composurefitness.com

In this test, you'll need to perform a sprint, sled drag, shuffle, farmer's walk, and a final sprint. While practicing this routine in its entirety is a smart idea, you can also train each section separately to gain specific improvements.

On training days, try breaking down the test by putting maximum effort into each exercise, but add rest between sets.

This practice will help improve each aspect of the test, specifically.

You don't need to be a fitness genius to train for this test. You just need to change up your training by doing workouts that are closer to the test. Of course, if you aren't training at all that will be the first hurdle to overcome. Check out the Mighty Fit Plan to help get yourself in the habit of training. You LITERALLY get paid to train so there's no excuse.