The Marine Corps on Tuesday officially published new updates to its physical fitness and combat fitness tests.
The changes, as reported by Marine Corps Times last week and available at the Marine Corps' fitness website, are part of a comprehensive overhaul designed to raise the bar throughout the service on an evaluation that is often the tipping point for promotions.
The new requirements, effective Jan. 1, are geared toward making Marines more lethal, resilient and capable on the battlefield, said Brian McGuire, head of the Force Fitness Branch at Training and Education Command, the group responsible for the changes.
"Anything we're doing in our physical fitness test changes is complimentary to that," he said.
The biggest coming change is the chance to take the PFT and CFT more than once.
Depending on how often a unit is able to schedule the tests, Marines now will have the chance to take the tests multiple times within the evaluation cycle to improve performance.
"This gives Marines the opportunity to score their best," McGuire said.
It’s not a complete do-over, though.
"Each of the scores are consequential, meaning that the Marine understands the PFT/CFT that they’re taking counts," McGuire said. "Although they did their best, they might have an opportunity later in the testing season to do better."
The female-specific flexed-arm hang is about to be dropped.
In its place, all Marines, poolees and officer candidates will have the option of doing pushups instead of pullups. The catch, however, is Marines can score at most 70 out of 100 points if they go with the pushup option, versus a full 100 points doing pullups.
"We ran studies showing that, compared to other means to assess upper body strength, the flexed-arm hang doesn’t stand up very well," McGuire said.
Marines over 46 years old will now be able to take a 5-kilometer rowing test as an alternative to running to test cardiovascular fitness.
At the request of Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, McGuire’s group took a hard look at other options to running the PFT, including cycling, walking and running.
"In the end, rowing was chosen to be the alternate," he said. "The evidence is quite clear that as people age, the incidence of orthopedic conditions increases. Rowing allows us the ability to assess Marines aerobically in an evidence-based means: It’s a 5-kilometer distance and is similar to running in terms of metabolic demand."
So far, feedback to the changes has been largely positive, McGuire said.
"Some of the testing areas are significant increases in the standards, and so with the raising of standards many applaud it," he said.
The Marine Corps wants to know of any questions or ideas to improve fitness standards, though.
If so, please send them to