The New PFA Has Arrived

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Local conditions permitting (as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic), the Navy will be conducting only one PFA in 2021 (beginning in March 2021). Also of interest, planks will replace curl-ups (sit-ups) and the rowing machine will be an alternative method of performing the cardio portion of the PRT. Please see the NAVADMIN, other supporting documents, and the CNP’s message below for specifics.

From: Nowell, John B Jr VADM USN (USA)
Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2020 7:18 PM
Subject: PFA Changes: CY 2021 Cycle

Admirals and Senior Leaders,

Earlier today, I released the attached NAVADMIN 304/20 – Physical Readiness Program Policy Changes – CY2021 Cycle, Plank and Rower Modalities.  This NAVADMIN announces a single Physical Fitness Assessment cycle in calendar year 2021, beginning 15 March and ending NLT 15 September 2021. 

Shifting the PFA cycle to March allows Navy to execute the PFA after the primary influenza season, while also leveraging outdoor venues as the weather warms for the conduct of the test.

Echelon II Commanders may waive the PFA cycle 2021 requirements if COVID-19 conditions prevent commanders from executing safely.  It also authorizes the resumption of group physical training (Command/Department/Division PT, FEP) when authorized by the appropriate Echelon II commander.  This authority may be delegated to the first flag officer in the chain of command.

Additionally, as previously announced to the Fleet, this NAVADMIN implements new fitness modalities as part of the Navy Physical Readiness Program.  The forearm plank and 2000-meter (m) row are officially incorporated into the Navy Physical Readiness Test (Infographics attached).

The forearm plank has replaced the curl-ups as the abdominal muscular endurance assessment.  The forearm plank is a better test of core strength and abdominal muscular endurance.  The repeated spinal flexion movement of the curl-up is not operationally relevant, may aggravate low back injuries, and does not strongly challenge the abdominal musculature—also the forearm plank has the additional benefit as being a much safer test amidst a COVID environment.  Service Members who do not meet the minimum passing score for the forearm plank modality will not receive a “fail” score for the 2021 cycle PRT only.  However, Service Members must still pass the BCA, the push-up and cardio modalities of the PRT.

The 2000-m row on the “Concept-2 Rower” will serve as another alternate cardio option in addition to the 12-min stationary cycle, 500-yd/450-m swim and 1.5-mile treadmill run.  The 2000-m row is a non-weight bearing, low impact exercise, which reduces stress on the legs.  More importantly, rowing provides a great full-body cardio workout because it engages 80 percent of the body’s musculature.  Similar to the stationary cycle, the Concept-2 Rower is space saving and can be used on any naval vessel or installation.

I ask your help in getting the word out to your leadership teams.  Standing by for questions or concerns.

V/r, John

VADM John B. Nowell, Jr.

Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP)

Here’s a link to a Navy article:

The Navy’s New Fitness Test is Here – What You Need to Know

Here’s also a article on the same:

Goodbye Curl-Ups: Navy Releases New PRT Rules for Planks and Rowing

One thought on “The New PFA Has Arrived

    […] I had posted on the new PFA with planks and rows, I don’t think I had posted the new standards, which are in this […]


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