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Navy’s 2021 PFA Cycle Window Starts July 1 –Updates You Need to Know

17 June 2021

From MC1 Mark D. Faram, Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs.

Navy personnel officials confirmed the resumption of fitness testing while releasing additional guidance and program updates June 16 in NAVADMIN 129/21. The service has not conducted an official PFA cycle since 2019, excusing both 2020 cycles to mitigate Sailor exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

The Navy’s single 2021 Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) Cycle starts July 1 and will continue until the end of the calendar year.

Navy personnel officials confirmed the resumption of testing while releasing additional guidance and program updates June 16 in NAVADMIN 129/21. The service has not conducted an official PFA cycle since 2019, excusing both 2020 cycles to mitigate Sailor exposure to the COVID-19 virus. 

As previously announced, this year’s single cycle will see the plank exercise replace curl ups as an exercise. For this initial cycle, plank scores will not count towards individual scores, however officials will use the results further validate the scoring tables.

A 2000-meter row will also premier as one of the cardio options.

This latest update announces new rules for pregnant and postpartum Sailors by giving them extra time to recover from childbirth without having to take the Navy’s PFA for the record.

Mask guidance has been updated to reflect the Department of Defense and Centers for Disease Control’s recent updates for vaccinated personnel. Also, the message announced that the Navy’s revamped Physical Readiness Information Management database, known as PRIMS 2, will go live at the beginning of September.

Sailors are reminded that everyone deemed qualified to test, must do so on the upcoming cycle. This means that no exemptions will be allowed for those who scored excellent or above from the previous 2019 cycle.

The reason is that DoD has long-mandated all services conduct fitness testing at least annually. Since there has been no on-the-record PFA's since 2019 the Navy is unable to honor those exemptions because of this time limit.

However, going forward, those who score high enough on the upcoming 2021 PFA will be exempt from calendar year 2022’s first cycle.

Failure rules are altered for this cycle, too. Because both 2020 cycles were excused, the normal consecutive failure rules will not apply for Sailors who fail 2021's PFA the message says. 

This means if a Sailor failed Cycle 2 in 2019 and fails the upcoming 2021 PFA, it will not count as two consecutive PFA failures. Going forward, though, any Sailor who fails their 2021 PFA and the first cycle in 2022, will be subject to adverse administrative action.

The postpartum policy update, effective July 1, increases to a full year the allowed healing after the birth of a child. This is a three-month increase over the previously allotted nine months. The exemption applies the body composition assessment (BCA) as well as the physical readiness test (PRT).

“This change will allow postpartum Sailors time to fully recover in a healthy manner before being required to adhere to fitness and body composition standards,” Vice Adm. John B. Nowell, Jr., the chief of naval personnel, wrote in the message. 

PFA exemption for pregnant Sailors starts once a healthcare provider confirms their status. After that, Sailors are excused from the PFA until 12 months after giving birth.

Still, the Navy wants to make sure these Sailors get back in shape safely. 

That is why at the six-to-nine month point in their postpartum exemption, all Sailors will take an unofficial “Wellness PFA” to gauge their fitness level. Assessments will be scheduled by command fitness leaders once a Sailor has obtained medical clearance from their healthcare provider.

Those not cleared for the Wellness PFA will be re-evaluated until fit enough to participate.

“The intent of this new policy is to assist postpartum Sailors return to PFA standards and provide [commanding officers] visibility on the health and fitness level.,” Nowell wrote in the message.

Those who pass their Wellness PFA can return to participating in command or unit physical training. At this point, they are still exempt from the PFA until the end of their 12-month recovery period.

Failing the wellness assessment will not count against the Sailor but will trigger additional postpartum nutrition and fitness resources to assist their postpartum recovery.

The rollout of the new Physical Readiness Information System -- known as PRIMS-2 will be available by September. 

Though starting the fitness cycle without the new database fully online isn’t optimal, moving ahead is necessary, he wrote, because "it is important that we return to a normal routine for our physical readiness program.”.

Also, the wearing of masks during the PFA will not be required for fully vaccinated Sailors, those who are at least two weeks beyond their final dose. Those not yet fully vaccinated must continue to follow the applicable DoD mask guidance. However, the message says Sailors may unmask when performing PRT events.

Those seeking more guidance on conducting the PFA should refer to NAVADMIN 129/21. Those seeking more guidance on the new events should also consult NAVADMIN 304/20 and the Navy’s library of physical fitness program guides.

For the upcoming 2021 cycle, an all-new Physical Readiness Program Guide 10 entitled "How to Conduct CY2021 PFA" is now available.

This new guide along with Guide 3, the PFA Checklist direct commands in conducting the upcoming fitness cycle. In addition, Guides 4 (Body Composition Assessment), 5 (Physical Readiness Test), and 15 (Conduct of the PFA in COVID-19 Conditions), should also be consulted, the message said.

These can all be downloaded at

The Navy’s Physical Fitness Program has also been updated with the new events an information and is available for download in the Navy App Locker or from any of the commercial app stores at no cost.

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