One of the oldest modern traditions in the Marine Corps is the physical fitness test (PFT). However, that is about to change. The PFT consist of a timed 3 mile run, max set of pull-ups, and timed crunches. The Marine Corps has recently announced they are removing the crunches in favor of a timed plank event.
Additionally, they acknowledged that crunches put undue stress of hip flexors. Thus, leading to hip injuries in Marines. This came by the following announcement:
PFT Update for Calendar Year 2022
In 2020, the Marine Corps adopted the plank as an alternative to crunches for the annual Physical Fitness Test (PFT) as a means to measure core stability, strength, and endurance while reducing risk of injury. For PFTs conducted in 2022, Marines will still have the option to conduct the plank or the crunch just as in 2021, with slight scoring adjustments. The plank will be mandatory in 2023, replacing the crunches as an authorized PFT exercise.
For decades, the Marine Corps has used sit-ups and crunches to both improve and assess abdominal endurance. However, research has shown that sit-ups and crunches with the feet restrained require significant hip flexor activation. This has been linked to an increased risk of injury, including lower back pain due to increased lumbar lordosis.
The plank presents numerous advantages as an abdominal exercise. The plank’s isometric hold requires constant muscle activation, activates almost twice as many muscles as the crunch, and has been proven to be most reliable in measuring the true endurance required for daily activity function. With increased core strength, Marines are less likely to experience injury or fatigue during functional tasks like hiking, lifting and low crawling. [End of statement]