Sound Off: Are Navy Fitness Standards Going to Pot?



After years of complaints from sailors, the Navy has finally relaxed some of its requirements and issued new physical fitness standards this week. “Wait,” say the old veterans, “we complained about fitness standards but we manned up and got the job done. These kids are SOFT!”

The Navy begs to disagree and claims that it’s trying to “strike a better balance between health and physical readiness.”  The new standards recognize a variety of body types, including weightlifters and women and aims to keep the Navy from losing so many sailors to a regimented and outdated testing process.

The Navy lost 1,500 sailors last year after they were unable to pass under the old fitness standards. The new system should help the branch retain more men and women after it invests time and money training recruits.

Among the changes:

  • An updated physical activity risk factor questionnaire.
  • A sliding scale for body fat ratio that increases with age.
  • Changes to the body composition assessment, or BCA, with three different ways for a sailor to pass.
  • A reduction in the number of failures leading to separation to two failures in three years, from three failures in four years.

There will be three ways for a sailor to pass the BCA, accounting for different body types and age.

  1. The first is to have an acceptable height-weight ratio.
  2. If the sailor fails that, an abdominal circumference measurement will be taken. A male sailor must not exceed 39 inches; a female sailor, 36 inches.
  3. If a sailor fails the first two, a measurement will be taken to assess percentage of body fat. The maximum for males is 26 percent, for females, 36 percent.

So what do you think? Take our survey and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Efren Tomas

    This is the result of too many LGBT coming in changing everything…soon the military can’t fight anymore when things get tougher..Should keep the old standard or make it harder not softer.

    • CAM

      Yeah, I see your logic. LGBT sailor are all to blame for the ills of society; yup, that makes perfect sense. Oh, the world is flat too.

    • muttling

      A LOT of gay men are more buff than Navy Seals. Your assumption doesn’t account for the beer guts that have become fairly common in the service…….especially in the high ranking officers.

    • Jim

      Amen, honestly between them and SnCos I’m not sure who is fatter …

      • AO3 Frazier

        I have always thought in my own years the navy was too easy. Have the new or even out of shape people in the navy that lazy? Poor babies

    • Jim

      And being a weightlifter doesn’t make your waist thick…. Being fat does

    • 11368971

      That is by far the funniest as well as the dumbest thing I have read in a LONG time!!! What does sexual preferences have to do with physical fitness? On a side note, I agree the standards shouldn’t change or should get harder if anything, but if you want to be taken seriously, you need to ditch the chip on your shoulder man. I read the opening lines and busted out laughing.

    • RobHarris1118

      I agree. When I was the PRT coordinator at my last command before I retired I saw a bunch of ridiculous out of standards sailors getting away with all kinds of things during the run as well as the pull ups/situps. Most of it had to do with some of the sailors not quite understanding what constitutes a proper pushup

  • JJMurray

    When you have a shrinking military it makes no sense at all to lower standards. In fact when you have a shrinking military is when you should RAISE standards so you attract and retain only the best. Eventually the politicians will grow the military again (usually right AFTER they learn they need them) and at that time you can bring the standards back down if you want. But right now? No!

    • MJFabel

      By raising standards you may attract some new recruits (the kind of people who like a challenge or have something to prove maybe), but you will also have more drop outs who can’t keep up with the standards which would just result in more shrinking of our numbers. If you’re trying to build up numbers, I think it would help to lower the standards even if it’s temporary.

      • 12345

        Yeah, kind of what JJ said.

    • Meetthestandard

      If I am in a combat zone, would appreciate someone that meets basic standards. Even more so, someone who exceeds standards. Lowing any standard because of manning issues, does not make me secure in the fact that people cannot support in an emergency situation. Understandable, if you are not going to or in a combat zone, lower standards are not a big deal. But in combat situation, standards become a big deal. With that being said, quit lower standards for manning purposes.

    • Kim

      Yeah.. out of all the entire American Population, those who sign in and take the challenge but aren’t made out of the right stuff, will WEAKEN the NAVY instead of STRENGTHENING it! KEEP THE STRONG.. PROTECT THE WEAK.. Only THAT works in the MILITARY!

  • H Johnson

    Actually I like the idea. Fitness is largely a matter of choice. It takes focus and discipline to stay fit. Those lacking such qualities can be used as distractions to draw fire and pinpoint the enemy locations.

  • Hobe

    The height and weight standards are obsolete. When the standards were set Sailors didn’t lift weights, take protein supplements and try to gain weight. I have taped most of my career and have almost always scored excellent or outstanding. The “bodyfat” they allow is simply not accurate or indicative of anything. It’s embarrassing to have to tape when I score outstanding and run marathons.

    • Kim

      The old standards were set for the then prototype military. Too many cracks and leniences crept in due to too much junk in the food chain and lax in the physical training motivation. Not having the right mentality to withstand these two main ‘cracks’ will eventually lead to not meeting the required standards old or new. I’m absolutely NOT against FAT people. But they slow down the military although they are really strong enough to make it and have proven that. So yeah.. standards are required. But laxing them would be a BIG mistake in all meanings of this word..

  • Ray

    I doubt it is because of the number of people, more like the higher ranking ,regulation changing types that are struggling to maintain the standard. The Air Force swore that the Cycle Ergometry testing was the best thing until their 0-6’s and above started failing and complaining about it, then all of sudden it wasn’t that great after all.

    • CAB

      My husband is an O4 and takes damned good care of his health. He’s at 10% body fat and in amazing shape. Several of his enlisted got booted in the last year because they (being half his age) couldn’t even complete the fitreps. After failing 3 times, they were out. The ‘old guys’ aren’t the problem. It’s the lazy new ones. Those in it for the long haul are working hard for what they want and they will do what it takes.

  • droggen

    Officers and Chiefs lead the way ! Ships company fall out to the gym and stay in shape when ashore.
    No excuses…

    • 12345

      Chiefs leading the way when it comes to physical fitness….. LOL.

  • 12345

    Sure, lower them fine…. Unless you are FMF Corpsman, then make Marine regs mandatory.

    • John


    • Dave Kaski,USN

      Make Marine regs mandatory? Last week I saw a female “Marine” that could win a beauty contest. What the hell is the Marines coming to?

  • CTOCS77

    “The Navy lost 1,500 sailors last year after they were unable to pass under the old fitness standards. The new system should help the branch retain more men and women after it invests time and money training recruits.”

    Yep and they probably could have easily lost 1500 more. They are overweight and out of shape and putting an extra burden on the healthcare system.

    • Kim

      That’s a plain reality to all. Try to carry a 500 pounder on the battlefield.. good luck!

  • wtpworrier

    I didn’t even know the Navy had fitness standards.

  • muttling

    The Navy lost 1,500 to physical fitness. So what, put them out the door. Yes we spent some money on training, but don’t lower the standards so we can keep them. 1,500 really isn’t big of a number when you consider the size of the Navy and I’m sure there are more slobs who should have been booted.

    We have 2 options, (1) Hold to the Standards for all races and both sexes or (2) Drop the Standards and accept less capable soldiers/ sailors.

  • Jarhead Joe

    The Navy has fitness standards? Who knew?

  • guest

    I was always told that when in doubt, or have a question, ask a chief. That has been good advice for over a hundred years. Just ask the Chief.

  • Bass Man

    There are many people who are in great physical condition who would fall outside the old “one size fits all” standard; we are not all a size medium; it makes sense to have multiple ways to define fitness so long as they all exclude the unfit.

  • Zspoiler

    If you want the Navy to be fit .Make them take the same PFT as the Marines.

    • guest

      Right on, and take it every duty day.

    • John

      We had to do this as Corpsman when stationed with the Marines. It is not an impossible goal, and should be required. This is not a desk job in the civilian sector. You volunteer, you are told there are physical requirements to maintain. Either you maintain the requirements or you get out. The problem today is everyone wants to make everyone feel good about themselves. (Everyone gets a trophy, we don’t want to hurt their feelings) If you want people to feel good then push them to achieve greatness, don’t allow them to be lazy, self-indulgent and feel sorry for themselves. Be honest with people, if your fat, your fat; if your out of shape, your out of shape. Stop your whining and go sweat a little, I assure you it wont kill you, but it may actually save your life.

  • guest

    One has to assume that the Admirals know what they are doing and that they are doing what is best for the Navy, Although, I have never understood why the Navy does not have all hands out on deck every morning or evening doing their daily dozen and PT.

  • Swabjockey

    One only has to go on any base and see the waistlines of some of the pot-bellied pigs oinking around and know what the problem is. And from photos I’ve seen of recruits, some shouldn’t even be sworn in. They failed before getting onto the Grinder. 20 years ago a lot of women couldn’t carry their fare share of the load on working parties or in annual PT testing. The crap is really going to hit the fan now. I can see how GQ will be going down, start doubling the time required to secure all watertight hatches because Chubby Chester or Hefty Harriet is still in transit from the 04 level to Aft steering. What’s next, fire a few Officers like the USMC did for the Lady Marine who pushed her female troops to improve gunnery scores and toughen up. The top female SEAL will be built like a Manatee!

  • Tim

    I am a retire Air Force E8 and now work for the Navy. I have seen a lot of AF and Navy personnel that in my opinion have become *porkers* and the numbers are increasing every day. Physical fitness standards have been changed/slacken over the years to the point you might as well not have any. So many people have excuses not to exercise, they can and will skirt the requirements. Senior leadership needs to be proactive and joint their personnel for PT. Better yet, have one training program for the entire DOD and use either the Army or Marines PT as a standard.

  • John

    The Military no matter what branch of the service need to keep the highest physical fitness standards as possible. It should be hard to reach these standards, and for those who can’t make the grade should go through special training until they can or leave the service. Lives depend on our troupes to be in top form.
    All I can say is “Suck It Boots And Hit The PT Grinder.

  • Edward

    I remember when the Navy implement the physical fitness standards back in the early 80’s. I thought it was a great idea, especially after seeing a lot of heavy set seniors sitting around. From then on, a lot of exceptions have been implemented to get around having to meet the standards. I remember at one command the Navy was pushing real hard to discharge a female sailor who couldn’t meet standards. Yet, the her senior chief was exempt from PF standards, but, actively played on the chief softball team. I became a big joke to me.

  • tim

    Just quit making uniforms in extra large sizes. If a person can’t fit in the uniform and look respectable in it they have no right to wear it.

  • That Guy

    Personally dropping our Naval standards is a joke. I am sure many have done the PRT and seen how sad many sailors become. Cannot do basic sit-ups, push-up or even run a simple 1 1/2 mile within standards. What is wrong with eating healthy and working out? I understand if somebody is a bodybuilder doesn’t meet the body to weight ratio, but when a sloppy out of shape individual has no excuse. The navy has state of the art gyms at base(s) and even most ship are equipped with a weight room with all your basic needs. I hate to say it but our military is opting for lower standards and it will bite them in the butt soon.

  • Jeffro

    I’ve seen quite a few senior officers who look Santa Claus. Recruits playing volley ball during boot camp. Its a freaking joke. When war time comes with China or Russia they will get mowed down waddling from the mess decks to their GQ stations.

  • USN Retired

    more than a few you have not served on a ship or have not dealt with the high op tempo associated with sea duty so I shall chalk some of the comments off.
    To those in the AF… really? I have nothing to say about your comment.
    At this point I don’t think the military can afford to keep standards that separate service members that miss the mark on body fat measurements, those that fail weren’t even being scored on physical tests.
    Over the years I met guys that took as many navy courses as they could and then failed the BCA or the run just to be separated so they could use those skills and schooling on the outside world. It’s safer than smoking pot right and they get all those benefits.
    Still from another point, filtering those people out of the military keeps a large group of citizens from joining. I guess we can go the way of Rome and allow more foreigners to serve and protect America because those people are within standards.

    • Jim MMC

      Amen, I served from 62 till 88, some of the most proficient people that I ever dealt with could not have passed the current fitness standards,, By the way, the last tincan I served on had no air conditioning other then in the mess decks. I don’t know if some of you new era sailors could handle a summer equatorial cruise on one of them. Physical standards that don’t reflect the job are a joke….

  • streetstock18m

    When I was on active duty in the US Coast Guard we had physical fitness standards we had to abide by. Two things I would like to point out. First, like me many members were over weight until their body m*** index was calculated and the member was found under the standard. Secondly, when I approached the command about the way the USCG trains and provides members with information about how to stay fit, I was met with we can’t do that. Or my idea was forgotten about. This is what I purposed; have a nutritionist and trainer visit the unit on a routine bases. Like every month or quarter. sit down and go over a nutrition plan for each sailor. They can work out and run miles but if they don’t know how to eat right their bodies will not be balanced. Next, start a work out routine and every time they come back to the unit check up on the routine to make sure the member has not stopped progressing. Also trainer should take body measurements. When I was at Gold’s Gym I paid the extra money to have this and I went from 26% body fat down to 17% in am matter of a few weeks because I has changed my eating hobbits and workout routine. I was monitored every two weeks and changes were made if necessary. I really got an education about what it really takes to stay within standards. Again, it does not make sense to tell military members they have to stay within standards and hand them a piece of paper. You have to show them. Tell them. Teach them. They can take it from there. The military spends mega bucks training personnel to do a job “perfect” but will spend a dime training them to take care of themselves. Almost forgot….keep a log book of what you eat/amounts and your workouts!!!

  • Stan

    Any standards which allow for some discretion and judgement should be implemented; while having the potential for abuse, allows for the “outliers”, such a one of my skippers, who was a weightlifter and in superb condition, but who failed the old “BMI” standards, not because of his waist, but his muscular neck.

  • Gregg Kolessar

    i knew a good navy man on my last ship that had to get out right before he had 20 years in due to the fact that he was overweight. so right now i wonder about it but slacking off is not supposed to be in the navy vocabulary! i did 22 years.

  • JEsilva

    I agree with JJMurry. Now is the time to raise the requirements!

  • Teresa

    There will be three ways for a sailor to pass the BCA, accounting for different body types and age. I will agree with the first and third one when it comes to women, but for number 2 no way. For a woman to have a 36 in waist will make her look like crap in her uniform. I struggled every day with my weight and it wasn’t from over eating or not exercising. According to the doctors my metabolism was slow and I was continually having problems with my digestive track. The annual PT test was stressful enough for me but by with the hard work I put in I was able to remain within standards.

  • R L Miller

    I am a retired Navy Master Chief. I have seen several problems with the fitness standards. First was the people who were the weight lifters and body builders, they were in excellent shape, but they were getting kicked out because they weighed to much, that is when they went to using the tape for the neck and waist . It was a good idea, but it had a problems. People that were fat and had big necks were able get by the system. Second is were the person may be stationed. A lot of times we have people working so many hours they don’t have time to work out. There work performance is great, but then we kick them out because they did not meet the fitness standard. Navy still needs to think this out.

  • Ldavis

    36% bf is obese period. The Navy has no standards. They r using measurements from 1959. Revamp the whole thing. Sailors should not be obese and out of shape no matter the age

  • retirednavy

    PT Programs, like gym memberships and new eval systems, don’t work when they are not used or enforced