Just when you thought the Marines were finished updating the physical and combat fitness tests – boom!  – brand new changes drop right before Christmas.

Starting Jan. 1, Marines will be able to take the Physical Fitness Test and Combat Fitness Test more than once in order to improve their scores, a Marine official said Thursday. That means Marines will be able to take the tests again if they think they can do better. 

Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller is also allowing Marines who are at least 46 years old to row five kilometers on a rowing machine in lieu of running for the Physical Fitness Test, according to the Marine Corps' fitness website.

The changes are part of a Marine Corps effort to revamp both the PFT and CFT. Starting on Jan. 1, the tests will include major updates. The changes revealed Thursday come in addition to other changes announced earlier this year.

One of the biggest changes coming to the PFT in 2017 is the elimination of the long-derided flexed-arm hang will be no more. Male and female Marines as well as poolees and officer candidates can opt to do pushups instead of pullups.

Marines have to declare that they will do pushups or pullups before taking the test, said Capt. Joshua Pena, a spokesman for Training and Education Command. They cannot switch from one exercise to the other while taking the test, he said on Thursday.

The trade-off is Marines can only score a maximum of 70 out of 100 possible points if they only do pushups for the upper-body strength event. In order to score a full 100 points, Marines will have to do pull-ups.

The Marine Corps is also updating its weight tables for women to reflect the fact that women put on muscle weight as they train to do pullups. Most women will be allowed to be 5 to 7 pounds heavier, with women in some heights able to be 9 pounds heavier.

Starting next year, Marines will need to get 235 points on both the PFT and CFT to get a first-class score on both tests. In the past the max score varied by age.
 
Those Marines who score a 285 on both the PFT and CFT will be exempt from weight and body fat limits. If Marines score 250 points or higher on both tests, they will be afforded an additional 1 percent of body fat.

All Marines will have to do more crunches to get a perfect score on their PFT. Male Marines between 26 and 35 years old will have to do 115 crunches – an increase of 15 over the current requirement – and women between 26 and 30 years old will have to do 110 crunches – an increase of 10.

Men and women will also have to lift the 30-pound ammunition can more times as part of the CFT. Men 25 years old and younger will have to do 67 ammo-can lifts to pass and between 106 and 120 lifts for a max score, up from 45 times and 91 times respectively.

Women who currently need to do at least 20 ammo-can lifts to pass will have to do at least 30 lifts next year. Getting a perfect score will require between 66 and 75 lifts depending on their age.