By Debbie Gregory.
Female Marines want to show that their physical abilities have improved over the last few years. Some 65 percent of them voluntarily performed pull ups during their annual physical fitness test (PFT) this year. This is a vast improvement from three years ago when fewer than half of female recruits in boot camp couldn’t complete three pull ups.
Last year saw a massive overhaul to the Marine Corps’ PFT, with major changes to upper-body strength requirements designed to make equal demands on female and male troops.
All Marines have the option to perform push ups or pull ups. Pull ups, which are more difficult to perform, are the only option to anyone who seeks to get a perfect score.
For women, depending on which of eight age groups they fall into, they can max their score with between three and 10 pull ups; male Marines can max out with between 18 and 23.
The vast improvement this year “is a marker for how this change has incentivized female Marines on the PFT,” said Brian McGuire, deputy force fitness branch head for the standards division of Marine Corps Training and Education Command.
Four years ago, only around 1,000 of all female Marines chose pull ups; three years ago, the number increased to more than 1,700; two years ago, more than 1,900 opted for pull ups; and last year it was just under 2,000, or roughly 14 percent of all female Marines, according to McGuire.
Marines, both male and female, must declare in advance which event they want to execute. If they opt for pull ups and fail, they are not allowed to then switch to push ups.
The updated upper body strength standards come on the heels of combat jobs being opened to women.
The Corps is promoting a pull up training plan designed by a female officer to increase success, as well as developing a program to make professional fitness instructors available to the force.