Navy's First PT Test Since 2019 Has New Plank Guidance, More Recovery for Postpartum Sailors

Navy recruits perform the forearm planks portion of their final physical fitness assessment.
Recruits perform the forearm planks portion of their final physical fitness assessment inside Freedom Hall at Recruit Training Command, April 12, 2021. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)

The Navy has announced that it will resume its biannual physical fitness assessment, or PFA, program in July after a break of more than a year due to COVID-19.

The service has not conducted a PFA cycle since 2019 and will conduct only one round this year that will end in December, a Navy statement announced.

The resumption of the PFA will also usher in changes in how the Navy conducts the screening.

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A new administrative message changes the rules for sailors who have given birth. Postpartum sailors will be exempt from taking the PFA for 12 months instead of the previous standard of nine months after giving birth.

However, postpartum sailors will be required to participate in a "wellness (unofficial) PFA between six to nine months postpartum," the message adds.

This change comes on the heels of the Marine Corps making a similar rule change in February.

In 2015, the Air Force announced that women would have 12 months following the birth of a child before being required to take fitness assessments. The Army changed its policy to 12 months in March.

In another change, the plank will replace curl-ups as one of the required PFA exercises. Since this is the first cycle for the new exercise, sailors' plank scores will not count toward individual scores. However, the NAVADMIN noted that sailors "should give it their best efforts as we will use scores to validate our scoring tables."

One other change for this cycle will be a new option for the cardio portion of the assessment. Sailors now will have the option to perform a 2,000-meter row in addition to the usual 1.5-mile run, stationary bike, treadmill run, or 500-yard swim.

Finally, the Navy announced that because both 2020 cycles were excused, the rules for failing to pass the assessment will change as well. If a sailor did not pass Cycle 2 in 2019 and fails the upcoming 2021 PFA, it will not count as two consecutive PFA failures, the message states.

A sailor who fails two consecutive PFAs "will be subject to adverse administrative action," according to the message.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at

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