News & Politics

Marines 'Lighten Up' Weight Guidelines for Female Soldiers

Female recruits stand at the Marine Corps Training Depot on Parris Island. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)

The Marine Corp has made some changes to its weight guidelines for female service members.

Female Marines will be allowed to weigh five to seven pounds more than before for each inch of their height, according to new guidelines published by the service. A 5-foot-6 woman, for example, was previously allowed to weigh up to 155 pounds, but can now be 161. A 5-foot-9 woman was allowed to be up to 169 pounds, but can now be 176.

Also being overhauled are the fitness standards.

The changes were among those outlined by the service’s top officer, Gen. Robert B. Neller, in a message released Friday. Neller also called for an overhaul of the service’s combat fitness and physical fitness tests, annual requirements that determine who is allowed to stay in the Marine Corps.

The new fitness requirements come “as the U.S. military moves to fully integrate women in all combat jobs for the first time following a historic decision last year by the Pentagon. In preparation, some female Marines have hit the weights — and then found themselves above weight requirements, Neller told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February.”

Neller said the fitness guidelines follow a “comprehensive review of physical fitness and body composition standards.”

“We will monitor the effects of these adjustments for two years and then adjust if required to ensure our standards continue to contribute to the effectiveness of our force and enhance our ability to respond when our nation calls,” he said.

Another change to the physical fitness test is the option to replace pull-ups with pushups.

For years, the test has included pull-ups, crunches and a three-mile run. But female Marines were allowed to do a much easier exercise on a pull-up bar known as the flexed-arm hang. That will be replaced entirely with pushups, with male and female Marines alike able to achieve top scores only if they do pull-ups.

Male soldiers are also getting a break on body fat standards, “so long as they can still post high scores on their fitness tests.”

Major General James W. Lukeman, commanding general of Marine Corps Training and Education, defended the new standards.

“Marines today are stronger, faster and fitter than ever and these changes reflect that,” he said. “Bigger and stronger often means heavier, so tying performance on the PFT and CFT to changes to the Body Composition Program are improvements that we think the Marines will appreciate. In the end, it’s all about improving the readiness and combat effectiveness of our Corps, and the physical fitness of every Marine contributes to that.”