Marine Corps PFT eliminating creaks from planks during physical fitness test

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The Marine Corps will eliminate crunches from its fitness test in favor of boards by 2023, according to a Navy administrative message released Thursday.

“The isometric plank grip requires constant muscle activation, engages almost twice as many muscles as crunch, and is reliable in measuring midsection endurance required for military tasks and activities of daily living,” said wrote Lt. Gen. Lewis Craparotta, commanding general of Corps Training and Education Command, in the message announcing the changes.

Sometimes referred to as a forward grip, a plank is a core isometric exercise that involves maintaining a push-up-like position while resting your body weight on the forearms or hands.

In response to feedback from the Marines, the Corps added the plank to its 2020 fitness test as an alternative to crunches, with a minimum wait time of 1 minute, three seconds needed to pass, and a wait time of 4 minutes, 20 seconds considered a perfect score. But starting Jan. 1, 2022, the Corps will modify those requirements slightly by increasing the minimum to 1 minute 10 seconds and lowering the maximum to 3 minutes 45 seconds, according to the post. The board will become the new standard in 2023.

“As of January 1, 2023, planking will be mandatory for PFT and abdominal tightening will no longer be an alternative to planking,” the post said. “This MARADMIN serves as an advance notice to ensure the Marines have sufficient time to train and prepare for the plank event prior to the CY 2023 policy change.”

The updated Marine Corps physical and combat readiness testing ordinance is expected to be released before the end of 2021, according to a Marine spokesperson.

As an instructional video from the Quantico Marine Corps Base explains, the planks will need to be performed on a flat surface and the Marines will begin in a push-up position with feet hip-width apart and toes extended. Once they rest their weight on their forearms and hands, “the back, buttocks and legs should be straight from head to heels,” says a marine narrator, “and should remain so throughout. test”.

US Marine Corps 1st Lt. Philip Sartain (left), a field artillery officer, with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, and Warrant Officer Tanner L. Grace (right) , a weapons repair officer, with 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, perform an exercise during a high-intensity interval training session at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., on March 12, 2021. Chris Hinshaw, an elite athletic trainer, conducted training sessions and health talks with participants to enable them to appropriately train their assigned Marines to achieve optimal combat readiness. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Quince Bisard)

Individual physical training representatives will monitor no more than seven Marines as they conduct the exercise and will call 15-second intervals until completion, according to Major Lindsey Slyman of the Human Performance Branch of the Marine Corps. Time will be called if a Marine falls to the ground, raises his or her feet or hands, or fails to maintain a straight line with their body, although a verbal warning is permitted.

“For decades, the Marine Corps has used crunches to improve and assess abdominal endurance,” said Captain Sam Stephenson, spokesperson for the Marines. “However, research has shown that crunches with the feet restrained require significant activation of the hip flexors. This has been linked to an increased risk of injury, including lower back pain due to increased lumbar lordosis.”

“Sailors are less likely to sustain injury or fatigue during functional tasks such as hiking, lifting and crawling,” added Stephenson.

Indeed, a research paper sent to the Commander of the Navy in 2018 noted that lower back pain was the “primary” musculoskeletal diagnosis treated at clinics at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, between 2017 and 2018. , as reported by the Marine Corps Times. The crunch was “ineffective in assessing the functional strength of the core” and “arguably detrimental to the health of the back,” the newspaper said. In contrast, the plank exercise was shown to “relieve pressure on the lower back” and received high marks among Sailors participating in a 2012 study of the Navy Fitness Test.

Brian McGuire, a retired Marine Colonel who now heads the Marine Corps Human Performance Branch, believes the change of the board will help make Marines healthier and stronger.

“After years of doing crunches, what we now know is that crunches with the feet restrained require a lot of hip flexor activation, and this has been linked to an increased risk of injury, especially back pain due to repetitive lumbar flexion, ”McGuire said. Task and objective. “Isometric hold of the board requires constant muscle activation, engages almost twice as many muscles as crunch, and is reliable as a measure of midsection endurance required for military tasks.”

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