Marine Corps Gives Women The Option Of Ditching Pullups For Pushups Instead

REUTERS/Eriko Sugita.

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The Marine Corps has rolled out a series of physical fitness changes Friday, saying women can simply do pushups as an alternative to pullups and admitting the service lowered standards to keep women from failing.

Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has called this physical fitness standards update the most dramatic since 1972.

Brian McGuire, deputy force fitness branch head for the standards division of Marine Corps Training and Education Command, told Marine Corps that the pushups were implemented to make sure that the Marine Corps didn’t “create a manpower problem by having some female Marines failing.”

In other words, pushups constitute lowered physical standards in an effort to make sure that more women don’t wash out of the service.

In November, the Marine Corps launched a review of physical fitness standards (PFT) and finalized the changes as of Friday. The new standards, which come as a final solution to the problem of women failing at pullups, will kick in January 1, 2017, reports.

Instead of the previously offered flexed-arm hang as a substitute for doing pullups, the new substitute is a set of pushups—for both men and women. But with pushups, the maximum PFT score achievable is lower than the maximum PFT score for pullups.

For example, women can reach the highest PFT score of 100 if they complete seven to ten pullups, whereas if they opt for pushups, their max score is 70, which limits opportunities for upward mobility in the service.

If women choose for the pushups option, they’ll have to complete anywhere from 40-50. For men who choose to do pushups over pullups, they’ll have to complete 70-80, depending on age.

“Push-ups become an option on the PFT, but Marines are incentivized toward pull-ups, as these are a better test of functional, dynamic upper body strength and correlate stronger to physically demanding tasks,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told troops Friday, according to “Push-ups are also a valid exercise and good test; however maximum points can only be earned by executing pull-ups.”

Although the service previously relied on flexed-arm hangs as a substitute for pullups, it became clear that it was a poor substitute, and so Marine leadership announced in 2012 it intended to eliminate the option in the future. Instead, the plan was to mandate that women perform at least three pullups. But that plan of mandating three pullups never really saw implementation, as leadership delayed it repeatedly because it turns out that more than 50 percent of women in boot camp couldn’t pass even that low of a standard.

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