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Corps postpones pullups for women, cites potential risks

Nov. 18, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Pull up PME
Marine Sgt. James Vincent explains the muscle groups used while performing pull ups as Lance Cpl. Ashley Vallera, a signals intelligence analyst assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, demonstrates aboard the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge in June. Women will now have beyond Jan. 1 to prepare for the switch from the flexed-arm hang to pullups. (Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels / Marine Corps)
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Female Marines will now have more time to prepare for the pullup requirement to pass the Physical Fitness Test.

The Corps announced Friday that Phase 1 of the change requiring female Marines to complete pullups as part of the Physical Fitness Test, in which women were given the option of doing pullups or the flexed-arm hang, “will continue into calendar year 2014.” Service officials want to further evaluate and validate the assumption that pullups are an appropriate metric for assessing upper-body strength in all Marines, said Lt. Col. Neil Murphy, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon.

“Data collected does indicate some potential risks with executing a complete transition at this time to a [pullup]-only PFT for female Marines,” he said. “... Further assessment is expected to last into [calendar year 2014]. However, a final timetable has not been established.”

Phase 2, which would end the era of the flexed-arm hang, was set to begin on Jan. 1. When it does take effect, women will be required to complete three pullups to pass the PFT, the same number required of men. In order to attain a perfect score, women will need to complete eight pullups.

Murphy said the Corps wants to ensure that female Marines are set up for success in combat and overall fitness. The assessments it’s conducting are a collaborative effort between Headquarters, Training and Education Command, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, and Manpower and Reserve Affairs, he added.

For now, the Marine Corps is encouraging women to continue training under the assumption that pullups will become the standard measure of physical fitness.

The service spent much of the past year working to prepare female Marines for a successful transition. That included efforts at boot camp and during unit PT sessions to help them master the exercise. The website fitness.usmc.mil/FPFT, launched in February, includes downloadable guides for women at each level of the pullup process — from new poolees preparing for boot camp to those who can do pullups and want to sustain.

Those efforts will continue, Murphy said, because they’ve had a positive effect.

The Corps first announced its plan to require female Marines to complete pullups about a year ago via administrative message. HQMC plans to publish additional details about the adjustments in the timeframe in an upcoming message.

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