U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Devin D. Goodall, precision measurement equipment technician, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24, Marine Aircraft Group 24, knocks out his final pull-up during a motivational Marine Corps birthday event on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Nov. 7, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Jacob Wilson)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Marines are putting an "extreme emphasis" on the number of pull-ups leathernecks can do, a recently published internal study found. And that, some fear, could result in other important qualities that are vital to the Corps' mission being overlooked.

Participants in a study on Marine Corps culture were often focused on pull-ups as a best measure of a person's value and worth, researchers found. Marines' ability to lift their own body weight on a pull-up bar was "routinely what Marines referenced when discussing physical standards, a Marine's value, and physical readiness," the report's authors wrote.

One officer interviewed for the study recalled seeing a bunch of cyberwarfare Marines — a specialty the service struggles to retain — leave the Marine Corps because they "ran 26-minute three miles and only did five pull-ups."

"So we told them they were bad Marines," the captain said. "But now they make six figures for Microsoft ... and we don't have any of them for our future cyber fight."

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This year, the Marine Corps set out to make Marines stronger, faster and generally more fit by raising the service’s physical fitness test standards, and it appears that they succeeded.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres

This year, some significant changes to the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test went into effect — tougher standards, new exercises, a revamped sliding grade scale based on age, and more stringent requirements for a top score. As Task & Purpose previously reported, the aim was to make the test more challenging — and the data, as well as feedback from Marines who recently ran the test, indicate that the service may have succeeded.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres

The U.S. Marine Corps set out to make its Physical Fitness Test more challenging this year, and initial records obtained by Task & Purpose suggest they’ve succeeded.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres

A lot of changes hit the Marine Corps’ annual physical fitness test this year: a sliding point scale based on age; pull-ups for female Marines; a rowing option for those over 46; swap push-ups for pull-ups; and the chance to take the test more than once. Task & Purpose reached out to some of the devil dogs who recently took the PFT to find out how the changes are impacting their performances.

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Photo courtesy of Michael Eckert

When it comes to crushing the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test, it’s all about the pull-ups. Sure, if you can lope along like a gazelle and snag an 18-minute three-mile-run, you’re well on your way to a perfect score, but you still need to max out on pull-ups. With the Marine Corps’ new PFT changes, men between 21 and 35 will need 23 pull-ups for a perfect score, while women of the same age will need between nine or 10.

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