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So Long Flexed Arm Hang

Sgt. Stephany Rector, administrative specialist, installation personnel administration center, Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, completes pull-ups outside of her office Nov. 26. Rector took 15 minutes to leave her desk, drop her blouse and knock out some pull-ups.

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, pull-ups will replace the flexed arm hang for female Marines during the physical fitness test.

An All Marine Corps Activities was released Nov. 27, stating that the Marine Corps will phase out the flexed arm hang starting Jan. 1, 2013. The first phase will serve as a transition period, allowing the Marines to choose to either complete the pull-ups or opt to do the flexed arm hang.

| More: Women get one step closer to combat |

“It’s something we have been looking at for a number of years,” said Lt. Gen. Richard P. Mills, deputy commandant, Combat Development and Integration. “We’ve done the studies. It’s popped up a number of times and when it was discussed this time, we decided it was the right time to do it. We decided to execute because there is no reason why we shouldn’t do this.”

Sgt. Stephany Rector, administrative specialist, installation personnel administration center, Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, completes pull-ups outside of her office on Monday. Beginning Jan. 2014, female Marines will be required to complete pull-ups instead of the flexed arm hang as part of their physical fitness test.

Phase 2 will commence Jan. 1, 2014. Pull ups will replace the FAH, but will remain as part of the initial strength test before attending recruit training or Officer Candidates School, but passing a PFT with pull ups will be a requirement for graduation from both recruit training and OCS.

Mills said the change in the PFT is part of the Corps’ attempt to standardize requirements across the Marine Corps.

“Women are fully capable of accomplishing it,” said Mills. “It’s more recognition of the changing role of women, the changing capabilities and the changing demands that we place on them.”

Males and females will both do pull-ups for the PFT. However, the scoring will differ between the sexes.

“The events are gender neutral,” said Mills. “The scoring is gender norm because there are physical differences between males and females.”

The scoring table that has been published is experimental and will be adjusted if need be before Phase 2. Scores from practice PFT will be reviewed and feedback will be gathered to determine whether to adjust the table or keep it the way it is.

“We wanted to arrive at a number that was fair but challenging,” said Mills. “So we took the studies under consideration and senior leadership both officers and enlisted decided that eight was where we wanted to start and then we will raise or lower that after we see how our female Marines do in the year.”

The change to pull-ups isn’t a surprise to most female Marines.

“Initially we all thought it was going to come sooner than it has,” said 1st Sgt. Matina D. Spaulding, company first sergeant, Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion. “I started hitting the pull-up bars and started preparing a long time ago.”

In the coming year, Mills would like to see female Marines do their best to rise to the challenge.

“If you look at the female PFT through history, you can see all the changes,” said Mills. “We have adjusted it as the role of the Marine Corps has changed and people have recognized their capabilities and what we can challenge them with.”

To help Marines prepare for pull-ups there has a been a website set up to help them go from zero pull ups to their max at

“In my 18 years of experience,” said Spaulding. “Females have seen more change in the Marine Corps than the males have and it’s stuff that we just have to adapt and overcome, and continue to march forward and rise above.”

Mills, who has struggled with pull-ups his whole career understands the challenge Marines are facing.

“I have never maxed out on pull-ups,” said Mills. “It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge that we are confident our female Marines will grab onto and do extraordinarily well.

  • Patrick A

    “The events are gender neutral,” said Mills. “The scoring is gender norm because there are physical differences between males and females.”

  • lukas

    Hi, thanx to the reply.

    I want to do a interview with a few top marines and compare their fitness levels to those of other sport types to the like of runners, tri-athletes, karate, boxing, Jui Juitsu, wrestling and Mui Tai.

    I was in the South African defense force as a younger man and was really challenged by the Army Fitness Qualification Test by which
    you either got access or were told to go home.

    What was disturbing as a very competitive type person is that we could not really figure out who did the best; who was the fittest! That is because nobody even thought of trying to configure the complex percentages
    and number combination and variations that could accurately work that baby out…

    Well, it has taken me years and agony to find the right combination of people with a passion for sport and the never ending debate on

    I thought you may like it:)

    The FIT100 challenge is fitness test that you can score your fitness level based on actual International Army Boot-Camp standard calculations!

    The actual FIT100 test will comprise of:
    how many push-ups you can do in 1 minute,
    how many sit-ups in 1 minute ,
    how many pull-ups (no time limit)
    and then run a 2.4km in your best time.

    These four scores then get tallied together according to
    the FIT100 Army Boot-Camp Scoring System.

    We are also at the point of launching the smart phone app
    where people can do the test at their own pace and train to
    contend at regional and international championships we
    plan for the upcoming year.

    Go 4 it! Score it! and then better it!

    There will always be someone better, faster, stronger. Be that someone.
    let me know what you think
    Cheers Lukas.

  • Marine Corps Production

    All Marines are required to do their two fitness tests every year. What questions do you have?

  • lukas

    I am looking to chat with a few marines that are or have recently done the fitness test. thanx.

  • Tim Bollinger

    I don’t know why my comments were not posted but at least someone read them. Semper Fidelis!

  • Tim Bollinger

    In combat the enemy will learn to attack the females first as to lower the morale of the males! Any woman who wants to be in combat should realize the enemy will be trying very hard to capture or wound the females. Don’t you realize this ladies? You will be a detriment to the combat units you are assigned to! Read a history book about combat,PLEASE!

  • Tim Bollinger

    I’ve never heard of a marine that excelled at pull ups during a fire fight or while out on patrol. It’s not a competition of athletic ability on the battlefield. If men and women are not held to the same standards in peacetime the enemy will surely take special care when fighting and killing the women, NOT!

  • Tim Bollinger

    wars are not fought on the athletic field, so what if you are as physically fit as a man. I don’t think the enemy will women a break in combat just because they have physical differences. If you believe this you have the wrong MOS!

  • Tim Bollinger

    If you are going to be in combat then maybe you should wear a different uniform so the enemy will recognize you as being physically different and give you a break on the battlefield! Give me a break!

  • Frank Ciampa

    True, most females can’t do pull-ups as well as men (although I did see a gymnast do 20 pullups). However, women’s physiology is superior for situps/crunches. So they should have to do more than men in that event. Running shouldn’t matter as the standard is attainable by both men and women – experts disagree which sex has the advantage.

  • Kevin Farrell

    I agree the Marine is wasting a lot of time and money changing things that do not need fixing another example the “female cover”. who cares. how about saving that money and pass it down as reenlistment bonus to help Marines and their families.


    It will never be an equal MarineCorps until the female marines are held to the same standards as the male so to hell with equal opportunity.

  • Mark T Davis

    The Marine Corps has taken step after step over the past 20 years to be more inventive without regard to quality. This latest PFT change is no different. Other examples? We got MCMAP because we needed to build confidence. Really? A Marine needs additional confidence? What we got is a lot of time and money invested in a “skill” that the Marine will likely never use at the expense of training time on a skill(s) (marksmanship, land navigation, other basic “green” skills, etc…) he/she would more likely use (and a large number of injured and/or medically discharged Marines in the process). We got the CFT because we shifted our focus from a solid, unit PT program that ensured Marines who couldn’t hang were thoroughly embarrassed enough in front of their peers and could be “motivated” to correct themselves. Instead we have another time consuming training requirement that doesn’t do anything that the original PFT didn’t do if standards/physical training programs were maintained. What has it accomplished? Look around, there are more fat bodies than ever. Chalk up many of these ideas to the “good idea fairy” sitting somewhere far removed from the operating forces. In the case of the flexed arm hand, most male Marines don’t realize how hard it was. Try it one time. WMs contribute mightly to our efforts and I have served with many outstanding WMs…check that…make that Marines who just happen to be female. In switching from the FAH to pull ups without maintaining the same standard, it sends the message that “we are all the same, but…”. Any Marine regardless of rank or gender, who doesn’t realize that men and women are different even though they wear the same uniform and that these differences require some consideration for natural, physiological reasons, doesn’t need to be in charge of anything. Serious, thoughful individuals had no problem with the FAH as a test of female upper body strength/fitness. This “change” exists more to calm the cry babies concerned with a perceived lack of “fairness” (an ideal that is the bane to the pursuit of excellence) than it does to address any deficiency in female Marine fitness. Per capita, I have seen far more male Marines in need of PT than I have female Marines who needed to do pullups.
    In the end, this is simply window dressing of a problem that only existed in the minds of a few tasked with inventing the next great problem that requires an answer. If we stuck with some of the basic Marine traditions that got us to where we are, we wouldn’t need to spend so much time, effort and resources on programs/activities that don’t do anything to enhance combat effectiveness.

  • Lynn Earl Breon

    Preach it! I am a male Marine (been out 13 years now) btu I remember getting reemed by some scrawny NCO and Staff NCO types but EVERY time it came time for an exercise who got the .50 cal? Yeah, this guy!

    I remember during MCT havign to carry the receiver the base plate AND (for the last couple miles) the barrel bag because the boot camp 300 PFTers weren’t built to be a mule. I wasn’t fast or fancy but load it on and get out of my way!

  • Daniel H Graff

    Gender neutral for the exercise, and Gender NORM for the Score??? How about, hmmmm, I don’t know? One Corps, One Standard?

  • WMarine

    Okay, require ASVAB 85% and higher for all career paths. Talking about equality in physical standards, but the IQ scores have always been lower for the grunts, and WMs had to have much higher scores to enter the Marines. I myself had a difficult time with flex arm hang and pullups because of my body mass had more muscle than the skinny girls, but I sure could out do them physically due to my power. I also knew many huge Male Marines that couldn’t max the pull ups but who did they select to carry the SAWs…you got it…the big muscle guys. Pbbbbt!

  • Lauren Carrasco

    If you’ve done legitimate research and even read the articles… there are significant physical differences and capabilities between the sexes. So thats the reason behind it…. Learn something before saying something. I on one had can do 16 pull ups as it is. So I’ve been walking the walk, considering the fact that most males can’t do 16 pull ups at all.

  • Frank Theis

    I look at it this way the standards have been in place for a very long time for the MARINES. so why should we lower the Standards just to get a few FEMALES that dont meet the Standards in. YOU WOULD NOT THINK OF LOWERING THE STANDARDS FOR A DOCTOR would you Just so we can get a few folks with learning disabilities to become DOCTORS, SO WHY even Think about LOWERING the STANDARDS of our Finest WAR FIGHTERS

  • Tess Hogue

    I understand that males will STILL complain that the scoring is “easier” for females. However, there are many males that I know that can’ t even do 8 pull ups. So before the males start complaining, make sure you’re one of the few that can actually max them out before you start flapping at the mouth.

  • Frank Theis

    I dont want to see the Standards go down for MARINES just to integrate a few of the WEAKER Females. if they can pass the same test and do the same job fine let them do it. if not DO NOT LOWER THE STANDARDS for our finest

  • Chris Morgan

    Everyone has a spot and a responsibilty in their collective carears. The whining about unequal pull ups is tiresome. Yes there are physical differences between male and female Marines. But never forget they are just as important to the team as everyone else. Will there be a WM to do 20 pull ups, yes, max the run and sit ups out, yes. Do all three together, yes but darn few. As long as they can carry their wieght, do thier job and be comabt effective that is all that matters. Lastly, will a WM make it to Recon, Scout/Sniper School or Force Recon, eventually. And she will be one of the truly few….for she will have accomplished more than her male and female peers…….

  • Micah Marmaro

    Real gender neutrality means not recognizing physical differences but instead recognizing only combat requirements. We should raise the standards currently in place for men and then make it so that it is the USMC standard for ALL Marines.

    Minimum of 3?! give me a break… Failure is less than 12. I’ve been off contract for 6 years and can still do 15.

  • Preston Williams

    What the hell…what.s next squat thrusts to teach the male recruits how to pee like the females

  • Semper

    How about a phase 3 where they have to do the same about for points as males do? 8 pullups=100 points for females and 20 pullups=100 points for males!!! Talk the Talk…Walk the walk!!!

  • Semper

    Now if they had to do the same number to get the same amount of points! 8 pullups=100 points for a female while 8 pullups=40 points for the male. The run time is about the same…coming in 3 minutes later and still getting the same amount of points. Give me a break. More propaganda of how they are equal. Talk the talk and walk the walk!