ACFT Army Combat Fitness Test For Dummies
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The Leg Tuck—maybe the most infamous event on the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT)—is how the Army measures your muscular strength and endurance.

Muscles used in the Leg Tuck. Muscles used in the Leg Tuck

The LTK requires you to use your grip, shoulders, arm and chest muscles, abs, and even your front leg muscles. It’s notoriously tough because it requires you to hang from a pull-up bar with an alternating grip, curl your body (like a shrimp) so that your knees or thighs touch your elbows, and return under control to the straight-arm hang—all while your body is perpendicular to the bar.

The Leg Tuck. Zack McCrory

The Leg Tuck.

The starting position for the LTK is a straight-arm hang from the pull-up bar with an alternating grip. Ideally, your dominant hand is supposed to be closer to your head than your other hand is; for most people, that’s the strategy that provides the most power. (Try it both ways when you practice, though.) Your grader can help you get up to the bar if you can’t reach it, and if you’re too tall to hang from the bar with straight arms, you must bend your knees, because your feet aren’t allowed to touch the ground.

On the command “Go,” flex at the elbows, waist, hips, and knees to bring your lower body up. Touch your knees or thighs to your elbows, and then return to the start position under control. If you keep your elbows bent, the rep doesn’t count; the same goes if you swing your trunk or legs to get your knees up. You can, however, adjust your grip. Just make sure you don’t touch the ground while you do it, or your grader will terminate the event.

You have to curl up to the bar once to score 60 points, three times for a score of 65, and five times if you want to earn yourself 70 points. Think you can do it 20 times? If you pull it off, you get a whopping 100 points on this event.

Leg Tuck instructions

The Leg Tuck (LTK) is a quick check on your grip, arm, shoulder, and core strength. It requires you to curl your body up to a pull-up bar, touch your legs (anywhere from your knee to your upper thigh) on your elbows, and lower yourself back down to a hang. These are the Army’s official instructions for the LTK:

You will assume a straight-arm hang on the bar with feet off the ground and uncrossed. You must use the alternating grip, with the dominant hand closest to the head. Your body will be perpendicular to the bar. Your elbows will be straight. Your feet cannot contact the ground or the pull-up/climbing bar during the event. On the command “Go,” you will flex at the elbows, knees, hips, and waist to raise your knees. Your elbows must flex. They cannot remain fully extended or straight. The right and left knees or thighs must touch the right and left elbows respectively. Your grader must observe both of the knees or the front of the thighs contacting both elbows.

You will return under control to the straight-arm hang position to complete each repetition. If your elbows remain bent in the straight-arm hang position, that repetition will not count. You do not have to be completely still in the straight-arm hang position, but deliberate, active swinging of the trunk and legs to assist with the upward movement is not permitted. Small, inconsequential or passive movement of the body and twisting of the trunk is permitted. Your grader may assist with controlling these movements if they become excessive. You may rest in the straight-arm hang position. The event will be terminated when you voluntarily stop by dropping from the bar or if you use the ground to rest or push up from to complete a repetition.

This figure shows the up position of the Leg Tuck event, where both elbows touch the legs.

The up position of the LTK. Zack McCrory

The up position of the LTK

LTK tips and techniques

For some people, the LTK is one of the toughest parts of the ACFT. If you’re one of those folks, this event is where you should focus your attention. Getting the technique down is almost as important as strengthening your core muscles.

The Leg Tuck requires a lot of core strength (front and back). It also requires you to have a good grip, a strong upper body and legs, and a bit of technique. But you can’t get around it: To become good at the LTK, you’re going to have to practice leg tucks.

Keep the following in mind as well:
  • Pull your body up at an angle. You can do that by looking up at the bar or even above your head and leaning back slightly.
  • Involve your hips in the exercise. Tuck them in and curl your body up as you bend your arms.
  • The longer you wait to perform your reps, the more difficult they are. Try not to hang and rest for too long.
  • Don’t relax yourself completely between reps; you don’t want to go into a complete dead-hang and loosen up all your muscles because then you have to reengage them all to do another leg tuck. Keep your shoulders, core, and lats engaged while you’re hanging there.
  • You may find that losing as little as five pounds can make a big difference in your LTK performance. Talk to your primary care provider about losing weight if you’re heavier than you want to be. You can also visit the Army Wellness Center on your installation to find out about nutrition options.

Trouble spots on the LTK

Graders are trained to watch for
  • Failing to start at and return to a straight-arm hang
  • Failing to touch both elbows to both upper legs
  • Swinging excessively
  • Touching the ground with your feet
  • Using the posts for assistance
  • Moving your hands more than a fist’s width apart

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