This article by Diana Stancy Correll was originally published by Military Times.
The Navy has announced that it will complete one physical fitness assessment cycle in 2022 — a departure from the traditional two cycles conducted annually — and will start scoring forearm planks.
The Navy attributed the single cycle to the COVID-19 pandemic and to delays in the rollout of the Physical Readiness Information Management System 2, which commanders will use to record physical readiness test scores.
“Recognizing the foreseeable conditions to include continued pandemic, PRIMS-2 rollout and modality validation, there will be a single PFA cycle for calendar year 2022,” a new naval administrative message said. “All medically cleared Sailors must participate in the CY2022 Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) cycle.”
The 2022 PFA cycle will be conducted from April 1 to Sept. 30.
A key change sailors can expect for the 2022 PFA cycle is that the plank scores will count for the first time. Although planks were included in the 2021 PFA cycle, that was for recording purposes only and they were not factored into the overall score, the Navy said.
That means that sailors in 2022 will receive scores for forearm planks, pushups and cardio events — including a 2,000-meter row that was introduced in 2021 as an option for sailors.
The Navy previously unveiled its standards for the forearm plank and the rowing events in November 2020.
Sailors between the ages of 17 and 19 will receive an outstanding score if they max out at 3:40 minutes for the plank event, according to the guidance. Outstanding score times are reduced five seconds for each subsequent age bracket. These standards across all age groups are the same for men and women.
Sailors are allowed to shake from a muscle spasm while completing the forearm plank — so long as they maintain proper form. The timed event will stop if the sailor lowers his or her head to hands, fails to maintain a 90-degree angle at the elbows, or receives more than two corrections on form, among other things.
Although the Navy typically conducts the PFA biannually, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the Navy to nix tradition when it comes to the fitness tests. For example, the service postponed and eventually called off conducting the assessments in 2020, starting in March. The tests resumed in July 2021 as part of a single PFA cycle for the year.
One side effect of the single PFA cycle is that the service is unable to grant exemptions to sailors who earned overall excellent or above performance in 2021. The Navy said that these exemptions can only resume when the service conducts a biannual PFA cycle.
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Feature image: MCSN Trinity Benjamin/ U.S. Navy