Too many lost, Navy changes body fat rules

Sailors work out at the Defense Information School. Photo courtesy of I Am Your Eyes.

It happens twice a year and for some Sailors, it’s pretty painful. The U.S. Navy Physical Fitness Assessment, or PFA, can be a game changer for those that fail it, but some much-needed reprieve is here.

According to Julie Watson at, the problem isn’t the fitness part of the exam, when Sailors perform pushups, sit-ups and cardio. The issue is they can’t pass the body fat assessment that comes just before all that. The solution? The Navy just raised the body fact percentage maximums for men and women.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said that current times call for more modern testing.

“It’s far more realistic,” Mabus said of the new body fat standards. “We were kicking more people out of the Navy for failing that, than for drugs.”

Watson said a new school of thought is slowly gaining strength in the military. Why should all jobs be held to the same standard of physical fitness, when clearly not all are created equal? For example, some are now saying that drone operators and cyber security specialists have no need to stay in top physical form in order to complete their mission.

Petty Officer Elliott Fabrizio rejected claims that this is making the Navy softer.

“This is not to account for a loosening but to accommodate different and changing body types,” he said. “One example is body building, which has become much more popular since these standards were first issued. I’ve seen many gym-rat Sailors that get taped every time because they’re too heavy.”

Here at the Defense Media Activity, many service members don’t need to move beyond their cubicle in order to get the job done. From social media teams to IT specialists, it’s all digital. The changes just took effect last January, and the next PFA is in about a month. For now, the best bet may be to train as hard as if the old rules were still in place.

For more information on the new standards visit