March 26 (UPI) -- The latest version of the Army Combat Fitness Test, with separate scoring for male and female soldiers and the third in three years, was rolled out this week.
The test includes gender-based performance scoring tiers, and the inclusion of "the plank," a static exercise in which a soldier's arms are used to raise him or her off a floor, holding the body straight.
It is an alternative to "the leg-tuck," in which a soldier hangs from a pull-up bar, tucking knees to the chin, an exercise which female soldiers find to be the most challenging.
Both available exercises are a measure of core strength, and older male soldiers benefit from the choice as well, .
"It allows for us to account for those in the service who have been in for 15, 20, 30 years that have never been asked to build the upper body strength that's necessary to do something like a pull up or the leg-tuck," Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, chief of the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command told Stars and Stripes.
"It's significantly hard to [build strength] at that age, so by having an alternative event [the plank] we can still evaluate core strength," Hibbard said.
The six-event ACFT is performed annually, with scores and evaluations a part of a soldier's permanent military record.
The 3.0 version of the test will begin in April, with scores not counting until April 2022, Army Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston told Army Times.
The relatively low scores for female soldiers, when not adjusted to take physiological differences of gender into account, worried lawmakers concerned that promotions and advancement for service women would be slowed.
In scoring, the six events will offer 100 points each, with 360 the minimum number amassed to pass the test.
The new evaluation system is expected to also offer five performance categories: green, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum, based on ACFT performance by male and female soldiers.
The platinum cohort could represent the top 1 percent of all scores, while green band could represent the lowest 50 percent of the total force.
"The scoring averages for male and female soldiers may vary, but the minimum standard will remain gender neutral," an Army statement earlier this week said.