News: Bye bye flex arm hang
Story by Lance Cpl. Tabitha Bartley
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – 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 up or opt to do the flexed arm hang.
“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.”
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 male and female Marines.
“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 be 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 http://fitness.usmc.mil/fpft.
“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 the 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.”