About 150 sailors spent several days in Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam's fitness center this month, where they were observed using rowing machines and doing forearm planks. The plank will replace sit-ups on the Navy Readiness Test in 2020. Sailors will also get the option to row their way through the cardio portion of the test.
The assessment in Hawaii marked the first part of a months-long study that will wrap up in April 2020, said Cmdr. Dave Hecht, a spokesman for the Chief of Naval Personnel. The service expects to produce a finalized technical report that sets the new scoring rules after the study is completed, he said.
"The intent of this study is to develop performance norms and scoring tables for the plank and the row cardio option," Hecht said. "Testing the exercises with sailors of both genders and of different age groups is necessary to develop those performance norms."
By the end of the study, Hecht said they'll have data on how about 600 sailors performed on the different events. The plan is to hold three more events like the one in Hawaii at other bases, with 150 sailors participating in each.
Dates and locations for future assessments are still being finalized, he added, but there are plans to conduct one at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, in December 2019 and another in San Diego in April 2020.
"Norfolk is also being considered as a location for testing, but that decision is still pending," Hecht added.
The sailors in Hawaii were assessed over three days, according to a Navy news release about the study.
On the first day, they were taught proper rowing technique. The second day, the sailors were assessed doing push-ups, the forearm plank and a 12-minute bike ride, which some personnel are allowed to do on the cardio portion of the PRT. Day three was more push-ups, the forearm plank and another trial on the two-kilometer row.
When announcing the changes last spring, former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said the plank would eliminate the sit-ups because that exercise had "been shown to do more harm than good."
"They're not a really good test of your core strength," he added.
And if sailors' commands have rowing machines, they'll soon be allowed to choose that in place of the run or swim cardio tests. Navy leaders decided to make the PRT changes based on feedback from the fleet.
While the study on the new events is expected to be done in about six months, Hecht said the Navy hasn't yet finalized when it will release the new PRT scoring tables.