Preparing for Cadet Basic Training (CBT)

CBT is a demanding progression of sequenced training requirements that form the foundation for all future instruction at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA). New Cadets are challenged daily as they learn fundamental military skills.

Preparing for Cadet Basic Training (CBT)

CBT is a demanding progression of sequenced training requirements that form the foundation for all future instruction at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA). New Cadets are challenged daily as they learn fundamental military skills.

A New Cadet’s fitness level and individual preparation for the specific physical rigors of CBT will directly influence their success and minimize the chance of injury.  New Cadets can expect long days that are mentally and physically taxing.  This site highlights some distinct physical requirements of CBT and how to prepare for them.

Daily Physical Readiness Training

Military life includes daily physical readiness training (PRT).  CBT will introduce New Cadets to PRT with the intent of imposing stress, exposing them to Army PRT, and enforcing proper movements standards. This training builds foundational skills necessary to develop fitness and meet the physical rigors of USMA. 

How to Prepare

       The general recommendations outlined above for the ACFT will also provide an adequate preparation and daily PRT.  To maximize preparedness and minimize injury, New Cadets should apply extra emphasis to improving their flexibility and strength-to-body weight capacity.  This will improve range of motion and the ability to move effectively during military activities that occur over the course of the summer.


Flexibility training should occur 5-7 times a week using a both static and dynamic stretching. 

  • Static stretching involves lengthening a muscle to near its furthest point and then holding that position for 30 – 45 seconds.
  • Dynamic stretching uses gentle and controlled movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion (e.g., exaggerated lunge step).


To improve strength-to-body weight capacity, New Cadets should incorporate bodyweight exercises into their fitness program.  Bodyweight exercises are strength training activities that use an individual's own weight to provide resistance against gravity.

For example, pull-ups is a common exercise that improves an individual’s ability to pull their own weight. 

  • For those who can repetitively move their own weight, consider increasing the intensity (additional resistance/weight) or volume (number of repetitions). 
  • For those who cannot move their own weight, start with assisted exercises (e.g., banded or partner-assisted pull-ups).

Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT)

The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is a physical fitness assessment with age and gender normed scoring. The test consists of six events and provides an evaluation of preparedness for the physical demands of military service.

Over the six weeks of CBT, New Cadets will perform the ACFT twice. 

  • A 3-event ACFT, consisting of hand-release push-ups, plank, and 2-mile run, occurs during the second week of CBT.  This abbreviated test is used as a diagnostic tool to measure a baseline of muscular and cardiovascular endurance.
  • At week six, New Cadets will take the full, 6-event ACFT.  The full test will demonstrate improvements made through summer training and is used as the first official physical fitness test for record.

The below links provide a detailed description of each event.

How to Prepare

Preparation for the ACFT can be accomplished by adhering to a comprehensive training plan that includes:

  • Strength Training (e.g., free weights,  resistance machines, bodyweight exercises).
  • Cardiovascular Training (e.g., sprints, running, biking, swimming, rowing).
  • Flexibility Training (e.g., regular stretching, yoga, foam rolling).


Maximize the benefits of training:

  • Exercises. Select compound exercises, that utilize the whole body.
  • Progression. Advance in difficulty by increasing resistance, intensity, or time. 
  • Accountability. Keeping a detailed training log and work with a friend.

Weighted Foot Marches

A routine part of military operations is moving from one location to another while carrying a load. As such, New Cadets are introduced to weighted foot marches (“ruck marches”) during CBT. New Cadets will conduct foot marches 3-5 times over the summer across varying distances which culminates with a 12-mile foot march from Lake Frederick to West Point while carrying 45 lbs of equipment.

How to Prepare

Foot marching requires mental toughness, toughened feet and lower body muscular endurance capable of moving yourself and your equipment across miles of hilly terrain. These can be developed by starting with a weight and distance that is reasonable to your ability.

To start:

  • Conduct a foot march 1-2 times per week.
  • Start with
    • Distance: 3 Miles.
    • Weight: 20 lbs.
    • Pace: 16 minutes per mile without running.
  • Increase the weight and distance by 5% each week.

Additional Considerations

It is important to select a proper pair of boots to avoid blisters and maximize performance.

Boots must be advertised as ‘AR 670-1 Compliant’ to be worn while in military uniform. 

Several pairs of combat boots will be issued to you upon arrival, but it is helpful to arrive with worn-in military boots.

Swim Test

During the first week of CBT, New Cadets will swim 150 yards for time. Performance during the swim test will determine which level of survival swimming class (e.g., novice, intermediate, high, advanced) an individual will take at the Academy.

How to Prepare

Preparation recommendations are based on swimming ability.

  • Non-swimmers: It is imperative to enroll in a recognized program of basic swim instruction prior to arrival at West Point.  Many organizations offer “Learn to Swim” programs, most notably the American Red Cross and the YMCA/YWCA.
  • Qualified swimmers: Those who are already qualified swimmers should place a greater emphasis on conditioning and swimming proficiency to maximize performance on the swim test.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are unable to complete the swim test, you will be placed in a novice swim class during your first year at the Academy that will focus on the fundamentals of swimming.

Your training for CBT should start as early as possible. Early and adequate physical preparation will provide you with the confidence and physical abilities necessary to successfully graduate CBT and reduce your risk of injury.

You will generally run 5-6 days a week during CBT. Running will consist of 1-2 miles of formation runs to Physical Readiness Training (PRT) areas, distance runs in ability groups, and sprint training exercises.

You will have physical readiness training (PRT) sessions that will consist of a 90-minute workout. Your PRT sessions will have various focuses including sprints, long-distance runs, ruck marches, and muscular strength and endurance exercises.

For temporary medical conditions, you can use alternate events to train. But you won’t take the scored ACFT until you’re medically cleared.

If you don’t pass a recorded-score ACFT, the Army will provide you with support and training to improve your score, and you’ll have a chance to retake the ACFT. If you don’t pass two consecutive recorded-score ACFTs, you may be involuntarily separated from the Army.

Yes, physical fitness is a critical requirement and expectation for those who serve in the military.  As a leader in training, you will take the ACFT twice a year.  Upon commissioning as an Army Officer, you will continue to take the ACFT twice a year for the duration of your service.