Corps Delays Pull-Up Requirements for Female Marines

Jan. 1 deadline for key part of combat readiness put on hold indefinitely

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Marine photo

A female Marine shows how it's done.

In the push to put women on the front lines, the Marines are taking a knee. In other words, they’re delaying the Jan. 1 deadline requiring women to do pull-ups to help them prepare for the rigors of combat.

Last year, the corps said female Marines would have to begin doing a minimum of three pull-ups, just like their male comrades, beginning Jan. 1, 2014, as part of their annual physical fitness test. But in a Friday announcement to all Marines on Facebook, the corps said not so fast:

“The Marine Corps is extending the transition from the flexed-arm hang to pull-ups for the female Physical Fitness Test to allow for the further gathering of data to ensure all female Marines are provided with the best opportunity to succeed. All Marines are strongly encouraged to continue training under the assumption that pull-ups will remain a standard of measure for physical fitness.”

Pull-ups are a key indicator of upper-body strength, which can come in handy on the battlefield. The Army—which doesn’t require pull-ups as part of its annual fitness test—conducted numerous tests from 1970 to the late 1990s to see how men and women differed in various forms of physical might. “Test results varied widely except in the case of upper-body strength, which, it was generally agreed, seldom reached the male level among females,” a 2008 Army study noted. “Given the importance of upper-body strength for a number of military specialties, especially in the combat arms, these differences had to be taken into consideration in any Army training regimen.” On Thursday, three women were the first to graduate from the Marines’ punishing enlisted infantry course.

Marines says the delay is to make sure the change doesn’t adversely affect the Marines’ fine-tuned personnel policies. “The primary risks are unacceptable accession/attrition/retention rates for recruits, officer candidates, and current Marines,” says Colonel Sean Gibson, a Marine spokesman. “These potentially translate into various second-order issues that present additional risks to the Marine Corps—the risks are not anything medical or physical in nature to the Marines attempting pull-ups.”

For the time being, female Marines will continue to be able to perform the “flexed arm hang”—holding one’s chin above the bar—for at least 15 seconds, in lieu of pull ups. The Marines demand “dead hang” pull-ups, meaning no swinging of the lower body to propel one’s chin over the bar. Males need 20 to earn the top score; women need eight.

“If you can’t pull yourself up, have the decency to pull yourself out,” says Ralph Peters, a retired Army officer and military historian. “The military, despite all the post-modern technology, is still essentially physical.”

When the corps announced the change last year, female Marines were eager to take on the challenge. “Females have to stray away from the ‘I can’t’ mindset when it comes to pull-ups,” Marine Lance Corporal Katelyn Hunter said in a Marines news story when the corps announced the impending change.

“About a year ago, I was only doing two pull-ups,” added Corporal Ada Canizaleztejada. “I began weightlifting and targeting specific muscles beneficial for doing pull-ups, and now I can do nine.” YouTube features female Marines showing their sisters that pull-ups are possible.

The delay has focused attention, once again, on the proper physical standards that should be required for combat. Some, in fact, may be dated and irrelevant on today’s battlefield. But whenever a snag like this happens, it polarizes those involved.

“Some women will be able to do the pull-ups, some will not,” a former Marine said in response to the corps’ Facebook post. “There was plenty of guys that couldn’t when I was in. Still trusted them.”

Not everyone agreed. “If you can’t lift your own body weight,” a second poster said, “you have no business trying to lift mine.”

A third decided to pick on a new target. “You tell the Army to walk up stairs,” he asserted, “and they get winded.”

24 comments
BambooCore
BambooCore

I just wrote an article about this too. I strongly believe female Marines should be required to do at minimum, 3 pull-ups. This is not unrealistic. I also think they should be provided with adequate training, coaching, and time necessary to learn the fundamentals of this movement skill, as society has done a poor job in teaching girls and women how to properly perform (and gain the strength to do) consecutive pull-ups. Many women entering the military have not had long term exposure to basic natural movement/fitness skill training and coaching and that's a shame. You can read more about my opinion here: http://bamboocorefitness.com/female-marines-and-the-three-pull-up-debate/

Kinnison
Kinnison

I call B.S.  Upper body strength is extremely important in combat.  The women can either do the minimum---which is the MINIMUM, not the average number that men can do---or they can't.  If they can't they have no business in combat.  They will get either themselves or someone else killed, probably both.

dg41ws
dg41ws

I'm all for women in combat positions if they meet the same physical requirements as the men.   Most women do not have the upper body strength that men have.  Combat is not fun, it's not a game.  In may cases, people's lives depend on one's physical strength. 

PhillyCannabis
PhillyCannabis

Military are not warriors. They like to think they are but what they are really just semi skilled machine operators. Females have the capabitlies to operate machines just like men. USA is moving towards drone warfare so how many pull-ups you can do is irrelevant. 

bachcole
bachcole

The Marines only require 3 pull-ups?  What a bunch of pu$$ies.  In my youth I did 22.  Three is ridiculous.

ResIpsa
ResIpsa

I wonder why the ancient Romans didn't use women in battle.  I assume they weren't as enlightened as we are.

Apostate
Apostate

The only way to test whether this gender-equality policy (and the injection of PC into all aspects of our military) has weakened or strengthened our armed forces is when the US next faces a long, drawn out war with an equal Great Power or alliance of nations.

I foresee disaster, in that scenario, myself, but I have no empirical data to back my hunch up. Time will tell, naturally.

seeseebutler
seeseebutler

When the Pentagon announced that women were to be allowed in combat we were assured that they would not loosen the physical strength standards. Of course we all knew that was B.S. This is a politically correct decision that puts men at risk in combat and anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves.

TheCinnamonGrl
TheCinnamonGrl

I was in the USMC in the early 90's and the flexed-arm hang is something that males Marines could rarley do and not to extent to get a perfect score. It's a trade off and I agree with the article, but just to make it clear, that flexed-arm hang is quite physical especially if you stay up there the tiem required to get a perfect score.

barneydidit
barneydidit

I was in the Marines in the late 80's. I used to ace the run and the sit ups, but could NEVER do the 20 pullups necessary for the perfect score on the PFT- so I never liked the damn things. 

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@dg41ws  

and that's what the libtard democratic law-makers in washington don't understand. very few of them have served in the military yet they feel like it's their place to tell the military how to run itself. it's idiotic. the battlefield is not the place for social experiments

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@PhillyCannabis

" USA is moving towards drone warfare so how many pull-ups you can do is irrelevant. "

that argument has been made since the first gulf war in the early 1990s. ask the Marines and soldiers who fought door to door, hand to hand through fallujah, nasiriyah, ramadi, husaybah, mosul, haditha, baghdad, al kut etc. in iraq or who have fought the taliban in afghanistan if physical strength came into play. i'm pretty sure every one of them will tell you it did.  you clearly don't know sh*t about the military, so your input is pointless and unnecessary

dg41ws
dg41ws

@PhillyCannabis Evidently you've been smoking too much.  Soldiers in combat are not semi-skilled.  In nearly every war, boots on the ground are very important.  They have to meet strict physical requirements or someone could end up dead.  I have talked to many soldiers who serve in the Middle East; they are warriors.  Maybe you watch too many movies with special effects.   

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@bachcole

"The Marines only require 3 pull-ups?  What a bunch of pu$$ies."

see, i expect ignorant comments like this from a bunch of kids in their early 20s who don't know sh*t about the world. hearing such ignorance from an old man such as yourself is pathetic. thos "pu$$ies" are some of the best and bravest young warriors our country has and they'd kick the sh*t out of you any day of the week. apparently the dumbing down of society isn't limited to millenials.

11B_INF_Retired
11B_INF_Retired

@Apostate 

It is called "Lowering the Standards" in order to meet there quota....  This has already been done with the Physical Fitness test for females.

Handthumb
Handthumb

@seeseebutler You obviously have never served with female Marines. The females that I served with, I would have fought side by side with them any day. 

Marine778877
Marine778877

@TheCinnamonGrl  wtf, how many times did a Male Marine have to pick up your slack? I don't know what unit you served in and what kinds of Marines you were surrounded by, but I know for a fact the majority of them would smoke you on a flex armed hang. Please stop lying to all these uninformed civilians who don't have the gull and intestinal fortitude to join our beloved Corps....MOVE ALONG WM

bachcole
bachcole

@#libtardedamerica @bachcole    (:->)   Didn't I read "three" in the article?  Oh, there you go, I missed the word "female" proceeding the word "Marines".  This makes every sensible commenter's point.

Don't take yourself too seriously.  I am well-aware that Marines are terrific and in terrific shape.  And by the way, a real Marine wouldn't be so disrespectful to an older person.  My dear son-in-law is Special Forces and he always calls me "sir".  You will be like me some day, jumping to conclusions, missing vital words.

clell65619
clell65619

@11B_INF_Retired @Apostate 26 years in uniform, Navy.  The Pullup was never part of our PT, and I could never manage more than 3 or 4 even in high school.

However I could and did put a wounded sailor on my back and climb a vertical ladder to escape an Engine room fire, carrying the damaged guy with me.  Adrenaline will do that for you.

I suspect that the Women Marines might not be able to do a pullup, but when someone was motivating them with incoming fire will make the climb quite well.

11B_INF_Retired
11B_INF_Retired

@Handthumb @seeseebutler 

Really?  Even if they can't pull their own weight?  If we are to believe in EQUALITY....Than that means both genders must do the same amount of push-up, sit-ups and the 2 or 3 mile run.

clell65619
clell65619

@#libtardedamerica @clell65619 @11B_INF_Retired @Apostate 

Oh please your gutless no service nothing.  

While there is a bit of rivalry between the services, (for instance Marines stands for My Ass Rides In Navy Equipment, Sir) each service has it's purpose and they need each other for the operation to succeed..

Not that a gutless no service nothing like you would know that.  

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@clell65619 @11B_INF_Retired @Apostate

" The Pullup was never part of our PT, and I could never manage more than 3 or 4 even in high school."

and that's why you couldn't hack it as a Marine and why everyone inside the military and out knows that the navy and air force are jokes compared to the Corps when it comes to the physical prowess of the members of each branch