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Marine Corps won't change pull-up training, despite failure rate

The Marine Corps will not change the way it trains and prepares female recruits for a pull-up test, despite the fact that more than half of the women who completed the program failed to do the number of pull ups required, Marine officials said.

The current physical fitness test for women consists of a three-mile run, sit-ups and flexed arm hang, but the Corps had planned to change the upper body strength test portion to a pull-up requirement beginning Wednesday, the start of the new year. Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, recently decided to delay the implementation of the new requirement for women during their annual physical fitness test, in light of the statistics from boot camp.

The Marine Corps announced in December 2012 its intent to require pull-ups for women, and added pull-up specific training to boot camp, and posted a workout program online for Marines to follow, said Col. Sean Gibson, a Marine spokesman.

Fifty-five percent of female recruits were unable to do the minimum of three pull-ups, but there will be no change.

“Current physical training of recruits has demonstrated positive results and is continuing as currently structured,” he said.

Marine Corps Training and Education Command will also “continue to gather data and ensure that female Marines are provided with the best opportunity to succeed,” Gibson said.

Amos pushed back the requirement because he was concerned that an unacceptable number of female recruits, officer candidates and Marines would fail the test or leave the Corps because of it, Gibson said.

“The Commandant has no intent to introduce a standard that would negatively affect the current status of female Marines or their ability to continue serving in the Marine Corps,” he said.

The first recorded history of physical fitness tests in the Marine Corps was in 1908, when President Theodore Roosevelt ordered that Marine staff officers would ride horseback 90 miles and line officers would walk 50 miles over a three-day period, Gibson said. The first female PFT was introduced in 1969 and included a 120-yard shuttle run, vertical jump, knee pushups, 600 yard run/walk and sit-ups, Gibson said. The test was changed to include the flexed arm hang, a 1.5-mile run and sit-ups in 1975.

Most of the current test and grading standards for the male and female PFTs were introduced in 1996, though the full sit-up was changed to a crunch in 1997.

The Marine Corps introduced a separate Combat Fitness Test in 2009.

hlad.jennifer@stripes.com
Twitter: @jhlad
 

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