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U.S. Army Recognizes Differences Between Men and Women in New Fitness Tests

U.S. Army Recognizes Differences Between Men and Women in New Fitness Tests

Perhaps Army officials can help Kentaji Brown Jackson with a useful definition.

Looking at the news for the past week, I will note that Kentaji Brown Jackson will go down as a truly historic Supreme Court figure.

Her response to the definition of a woman (“I am not a biologist”) will go down as one of the most memorable moments in any confirmation proceedings, including the very vitriolic and hostile process Justice Brent Kavanaugh endured.

However, it seems that not every entity associated with the U.S. government is blind to the biological differences between men and women.

Following a three-year review, the Army has scrapped plans to use the same physical fitness test for all soldiers, choosing instead to have revised standards for women. Amendments to the test have also been made to address aging.

The decision follows a RAND-led study that found men were more easily passing the new, more difficult Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) compared to women and older soldiers, who were “failing at noticeably higher rates.” That six-event test developed in 2019 was an expansion from the three events — pushups, situps and a run — soldiers had done prior.

“This test is an essential part of maintaining the readiness of the Army as we transform into the Army of 2030,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in a statement announcing the changes. “The revisions to the ACFT are based on data and analysis, including an independent assessment required by Congress. We will continue to assess our implementation of the test to ensure it is fair and achieves our goal of strengthening the Army’s fitness culture.”

A copy of the study can be found here.

After reviewing the information, I believe that adjustments were appropriate. As more research on physical fitness has been done, especially during the decades in which “working out” is common, a greater understanding has been reached in the components that make up physical fitness.

Having ACFT be a general fitness test with an age-and-gender-based scoring scale more accurately assesses an individual’s physical fitness, said [ Brig. Gen. Scott Naumann, the Army’s director of training in the office of the deputy chief of staff}.

“What is different is that this is a much better test. It’s much more comprehensive, it looks at all different aspects of fitness, from endurance to strength to aerobic capacity,” he said.

Also, the Army will be providing more equipment and training plans to help soldiers prepare for the test. A “governance structure” will also be put in place to ensure oversight of the test’s implementation over time, collect data on the test, and provide recommendations to senior leaders.

There are elements to the new test, which is designed to look at several elements of fitness, such as core strength.

Leg tucks are totally eliminated as the event to measure core strength, with planks taking their place. The rest of the test still includes the deadlift, hand-release pushups, the standing power throw, two-mile run and the sprint, drag, carry. Test designers were concerned that the leg tuck doesn’t strictly measure core muscle strength but also requires that a soldier spend a lot of energy on upper-body and grip strength.

Previously, the plank was introduced as an alternative event during the ACFT’s beta phase when it was discovered women were struggling with the leg tucks.

“If I don’t have the grip strength, but have the core strength, I can’t do a leg tuck,” Grinston said. “That was the reason for taking that out; we wanted to measure core strength.”

It must also be noted that certain positions will be subject to more rigorous standards.

Qualifying for certain Army jobs, particularly more demanding combat positions or specialties such as Ranger school, will continue to require that everyone — regardless of age or gender — must pass the same fitness tests and standards.

The adjustments are being greeted with a great deal of concern about lowering the standards. However, as it appears that the requirements are still more robust for positions requiring strength, there is a benefit for retaining and promoting those within the Army who are physically fit but in ways not measurable by the old tests.

However, the U.S. Army now has a new problem: How to define a woman. When it does, please let Kentaji Brown Jackson know.


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Female fitness standards are a joke, and everybody knows it.

When I was on active duty for the Marines, if a male did the exact times/reps necessary for a 1st class PFT for women, then they were placed on remedial PT for being not up to standards. And that was 10 years ago.

I’ve met only a HANDFUL of women from active duty that I would consider up to actual physical standards for combat.

The rest are out of shape REMF who occupy all the ‘safe’ garrison billets so the males would get chain deployed because that’s what it took.

    mailman in reply to Olinser. | March 26, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    Fitness tests themselves have always been a joke 🙄 Back in the day having to do a set number of “proper” press ups always perplexed me because I don’t recall an enemy combatant ever in the entire history of combat ever being killed by a mean set of press ups 🤷‍♂️

      Guardian79 in reply to mailman. | March 26, 2022 at 5:52 pm

      Obviously, this is a person who’s never been in a fight. The history of warfare, including modern warfare, is replete with examples of soldiers needing to resort to hand to hand fighting. There is on great story where a Marine entered a room in Iraq, an insurgent grabbed the barrel of his rifle, so the Marine beat the insurgent to death with the rifle.

        mailman in reply to Guardian79. | March 27, 2022 at 4:34 am

        You’ve misunderstood what I said 🤣

        Having to do a set number of press ups and set ups doesn’t tell you anything other than whether someone can do the required number of press ups in the prescribed manner 🤣

        I’ve known plenty of rambos who can pump em out like a machine gun who them promptly fall apart I’m tge field as soon as it gets a little cold or a little to warm 🙄

        And I guarantee you that marine that cleared out that building by beating 100 hajis to death with his cold hard hands and a mean gaze probably didn’t reflect later, after the dust had settled and the laments for tge fallen started to tumble out if the months of women, about how grateful he was for being able to do 30 press ups in 10 seconds 🤣

          I think you are missing the point. There will always be exceptions to the rule but standards must be set. As someone who has been a fitness devotee my entire life, I can swear on a stack of bibles that the more fit you are, the more confidence you have in excelling in sports which pays off. There is good reason for minimum fitness standards to even get into the game. Even in intramural sports or street basketball or sandlot baseball, we pick our teams based mostly on fitness.

          The cream will float to the top and they are NEVER those who barely passed the minimum requirements. These are the soldiers who populate the elite units. Everyone else, they still have to be good enough to convince their buddies that they are reliable. Anyone who couldn’t pass the basic fitness test is not the buddy anyone wants to be having their backs. Carrying a wounded buddy off of the field takes far more than the minimum standard.

          Tough standards make for tough soldiers.

          mailman in reply to mailman. | March 27, 2022 at 3:09 pm


          Who is saying standards no longer matter?

          It is a fact men and women are physically different. The only people who disagree with this are Democrats who seem incapable of identifying a woman even if one is standing in front of them and a biologist is present.

          henrybowman in reply to mailman. | March 27, 2022 at 3:28 pm

          “The cream will float to the top and they are NEVER those who barely passed the minimum requirements.”

          The top of which vat?
          What were Austin and Milley the best at?
          In which exercise regimen do you kiss ass?

    nordic_prince in reply to Olinser. | March 26, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    Fitness in general is a problem that affects recruitment:

    A recent Heritage Foundation report found that, according to 2017 Pentagon data, “71 percent of young Americans between 17 and 24 are ineligible to serve in the United States military.” Nearly one-third of those young Americans are too overweight for military service.

I suspect I would have to “identify” as a 96-year-old woman to pass the test.

What are the standards for the 20 other genders democrats say exist?!

So much for having the strongest capable in the military.
But you can get Transgender operations free still, right?

To humanity a bifurcated distribution of sexes with gender offsets. To each sex a narrow normal distribution.

amatuerwrangler | March 26, 2022 at 7:52 pm

My info is a bit “dated”. It appears that the PCPT (Physical Combat Proficiency Test) of 1967 is no longer in vogue. Of course, the idea of women in the combat branches was laughable. Maybe combat is less physical these days, but it doesn’t look like it from the info we are getting.

Do the girls get lighter weapons to carry, smaller artillery shells to load? This list could get very long, so I’ll stop.

The mention of the REMF brought a smile to my face. Well done.

On the brighter side, if this social media conflict ever goes hot, my money is on the older, grouchy vets totally overwhelming the younger set… the latter being too pudgy and timid to put up much of a fight; mere words send them scurrying for cover….

    AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to amatuerwrangler. | March 27, 2022 at 2:17 am

    This gluten, lactose, and peanut intolerant bunch who need an inhaler to get through the day wouldn’t survive combat.

    Regarding girls in the Army, and in the military in general, a large percentage believes equality in the service is that they get to work in air conditioned buildings Monday through Friday, with nights, weekends and holidays off.

    The only major exception that I can recall are nurses and other medical professionals.

Translation-Our military is relying solely on superior technology to win wars and if we get into a real war that involves real combat we will lose.

    CommoChief in reply to Danny. | March 27, 2022 at 9:48 am


    For conventional forces that is pretty close to accurate. We are over reliant on tech and if we face an opponent who is capable of disrupting it there will be issues. The dollars and desire for training on alternative, back up or old fashioned analog world methods doesn’t exist outside of Spec Ops community.

With these new reduced standards, when Lia Thomas gets done with swimming, the doors will be wide open for a career in the military.

Well, the males can identify as females and pass the lesser test.

    AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to Barry. | March 27, 2022 at 2:19 am

    If we can’t define what a female is, then how does one know what test an individual soldier needs to be scored?

There are women in sports, and I can name quite a few, who perform at a much higher level than many men in their sport. Ultra running often sees women winning outright of the field in 100-mile marathons. And they aren’t masculine women either. Women can compete in ultras.

The World Series of ultra running is the UTMB (Ultra Trail at Mont Blanc) which is over 105 miles in the Alps. Last year, Courtney Dauwalter placed 7th overall and 1st in women. No American male beat her. The prior UTMB, only one American male beat her. She has won several races outright. Camille Herron has also won events outright several times and she is 40 years old! And there are others.

These women are exceptions, almost super human. But standards are changing up and down the skill levels. Depending on what the required, women CAN compete and win in very grueling challenges. But on ground level where the rest of us live, men are just stronger than women and will prevail when it comes to raw power.

    CommoChief in reply to Pasadena Phil. | March 27, 2022 at 10:05 am


    Absolutely. I recall a PT test in which a female was running in front of the pack. I increased my pace to match her thinking she would tire. Nope she beat me by a few seconds; turns out she had been on the cross country track team in college.

    There are a very few remarkable females who possess the drive, mental toughness and physical attributes to compete with the 20% of men. They can complete a rigorous course like Ranger School a 63 day course. However, that’s a far different thing than serving in the Ranger Regiment where every week is another physically demanding gut check.

    Their lighter frame, lesser bone density and weaker upper body in comparison to males will not hold up over time. There are a very few who can do it short term and earn a tab but not over the course of a normal length assignment to the regiment much less over a 20 year career.

    mailman in reply to Pasadena Phil. | March 28, 2022 at 5:34 am

    As you say Phil, those women are outliers. Sure there are SOME women who can outrun men in longer distances BUT the averages are against women because of…checks notes…the differences in biology.

    Women have their places in the military and I remember reading some literature a while ago that women are generally better suited to fast combat jets because of their higher tolerances for G (or something like that). Women are also better at communicating AND its far easier to listen to a high pitched womans voice on the radio than it is a low pitched males voice.

This doesn’t seem like something that should be hard to figure out. Set a standard that reflects the needs of the job and then anybody that can pass it can get the job.

If this results in too few people making the cut, then the place to address it isn’t the standards but in making more people willing to meet the standard.

    CommoChief in reply to Dathurtz. | March 27, 2022 at 10:15 am

    It’s a bit more complicated. Achieving a physical performance test to qualify is one thing. Being able to sustain that performance over time is another. The issue is training costs. We can’t afford to sink dollars from a limited training budget into people who are not likely to be able to sustain the standard.

    Women have several disadvantages. Lighter, less bone density, less upper body strength. Over time these result in injuries usually orthopedic; knees, back due to weight carrying demands that over tax them. The end result is someone who can no longer physically perform the duties they have been trained to perform so those training funds are squandered. They must either leave the service or train on a new specialty which both have additional costs; VA disability or cost of new training.

Maybe all the fitness requirements and expectations are confused because Congress is in the mix.

    I wouldn’t be surprised. Served a term in the early 80s and our Boot Camp company was one of the first mixed-sex training companies (Fort Dix). Supposedly a female congress critter from the armed services committee was ram-rodding more army gender equality thru with an eye to opening up more MOS’s to the fairer sex.

    At the time there were different pass/fail fitness requirements based on gender and age – but feedback was that too many female recruits were failing to meet even the reduced standards and that heads would roll if that didn’t improve. (So it wouldn’t undercut arguing for more Women In Combat).

    Since the Drill staff couldn’t magically make the average 5’ 98 lb female as fit or strong or fast as an average 5’9” 150 lb male over the course of training unofficial accommodations were made. Different testing standards for Is That A Valid sit-up or push-up it appeared imho and for the 2 mile run a staff member would have the girl recruit run in place until a stopwatch hit the required minimum time.

    I’m sure some female recruits were fit enuf for some combat MOS’s but you’d never know it from this top-down They Must Pass requirement. (Heck on my enlistment physical the doc gave me a heads up that due to high arches he wouldn’t have passed me if I (male) was going for a combat MOS. Not sure if arches were the reason but had killer shin splints by the end of Basic and endured some intense discomfort standing in formations rather than go to medical and have to repeat Basic).

As far as I can see the whole genderized standards issue is AWAB (any way [you fix it is still] a bug). If the sexes have the same standards, either the males get a cakewalk or the females wash out. If they don’t, the males grouse that they get stuck with all the hard work.

What’s the best solution? I don’t know. What I do know, is that if I’m ever caught in a structure fire, I don’t want to die there because some bureaucrat decided some sub-par firefighter had to be allowed to follow her dream.