Majority of Female Marines Opt for Pull Ups in New Fitness Test


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.

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Military Connection: Army Master Fitness Trainers: By Debbie Gregory

Army MFTMilitary branches are slimming down in a number of ways. Both the Army and Air Force have already seen down-sizing in both their officer and enlisted ranks. But the DOD is also tasking its branches with getting leaner and more physically fit.

As part of this tasking, the Army has taken to a few new programs to help facilitate the process.

The first program is Physical Readiness Training (PRT). Focusing not just on exercise, but also on nutrition and physiology, the implementation of PRT has been considered the biggest improvement in Army fitness training for more than thirty years.

PRT was originally launched in 2010. The program was revamped,  and launched again in 2012. Though gaining ground, the program was widely underutilized by individual commanders, who have control on how to train their soldiers.

As part of the PRT program, the Army is in the process of training thousands of NCO’s to become Master Fitness Trainers (MFT). These MFT’s will be the designated fitness experts for their commands. To be chosen to train as an MFT, soldiers are selected by their command, not just for their superior Army Physical Fitness Test scores, but also for their leadership abilities.

At the four week MFT course, participants learn how to properly instruct others by first learning how to do each exercise correctly. There’s no better way to learn than by doing.

While the MFT course is physically rigorous, it also contains classroom lessons on how each exercise affects the body, and how improper techniques can lead to injuries. The course also trains the MFTs on the use of performance nutrition. They learn how to determine the caloric and hydration needs of soldiers in various environments and activities.

Once their training is complete, the newly minted MFTs return to their command. They are ready to lead physical fitness programs, including PT sessions, dietary regiments and training that puts an emphasis on specific fitness areas, depending on that command’s mission and need.

More than 2,000 MFTs have already been trained.

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Military Connection: Army Master Fitness Trainers:   By Debbie Gregory