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What is the weight limit for the US draft?

US Military Enlistment Height and Weights Standards

US Military Enlistment Height and Weights Standards

Stew Smith, CSCS, is a Veteran Navy SEAL Officer, freelance writer, and author with expertise in the U.S. military, military fitness, and its traditions.

Updated on 06/06/19

As you can see below, the standards for height, weight and body fat percentages vary among the services. There is no set military wide standard for height and weight for admitted military members as well as active duty members.


The military only accepts candidates who fall into a specific height range. This is primarily because the military doesn’t have the time or money to order custom-made uniforms and equipment for those who fall outside of the standard ranges. Also shipboard, tanks, and airplane jobs can be particularly difficult if someone exceeds the height standards.

The cause for rejection for Armed Forces male applicants is height less than 60 inches or more than 80 inches. The cause for rejection for Armed Forces female applicants is height less than 58 inches or more than 80 inches. The Marines are more restrictive. For the Marines, height standards for male applicants range from 58 to 78 inches. Height standards for female applicants range from 58 to 72 inches.

The most notable military member who started his military career within the height standards but grew more than six inches in his first 4 years at the Naval Academy was basketball great David Robinson. Robinson started the Naval Academy at 6’7″ but in four years he was 7’1″ — well over the 80 inches height standard. He finished his time at the Naval Academy, played professional basketball, but served active duty regardless and then continued to serve in the Naval Reserves to fulfill his commitment mainly doing recruitment and Navy promotional campaigns.


The services have both height and weights standards. If you fail the height / weight charts, but pass the body fat standards you are still eligible for service. The height and weight standards do not take into account someone with above average muscle mass on their frame. That makes it difficult for people to meet the height / weight standards even with little fat at all. So people can actually fail the maximum allowed weight for the military for his / her height as long as they are more lean muscle than body fat.
The additional test is a circumference test where body fat is measured by a series of tape measurements around the neck and belly button area. To make the process quicker, if someone simply passes the height and weight standards, they pass the test and do not require additional taping to check to see if they are within body fat standards. It takes extra time and effort to measure body fat, so the services use weight charts to do an initial screening. There are no waivers for exceeding required body fat limits.

Air Force Weight Chart — Male/Female
Army Weight Chart — Males
Army Weight Chart — Females
Navy Weight Chart — Male/Female
Marine Corps Weight Chart — Male
Marine Corps Weight Chart — Female

If the applicant exceeds the weight shown on the above charts, they are measured for body fat. Using a circumference / chart method, which is roughly 3-5% within range of accuracy typically, body fat can be estimated for those members who fail the height weight standards. Body-fat standards for each of the services are

Army: (Accession standards)

  • Male 17-30 — 24%
  • Male 21-27 — 26%
  • Male 28-39 — 28%
  • Male 40+ — 30%
  • Female 17-30 — 30%
  • Female 21-27 — 32%
  • Female 28-39 — 34%
  • Female 40 + — 36%

Air Force: (Accession Standards)

  • Male 17-29 — 20%
  • Male 30 + — 24%
  • Female 17-29 — 28%
  • Female 30 + — 32%

Navy: (Accession Standards)

  • Male — 23%
  • Female — 34%

Marine Corps: (Accession and Regular Standards)

  • Male — 18%
  • Females — 26%

The Marines have adopted a new program as of January 2017.

  • Marines who score 285 or higher on BOTH the PFT and CFT are exempt from height/weight standards.
  • Marines who score 250 or higher on BOTH the PFT and CFT are given an additional 1 percent body fat.
  • Another note — The USMC also increased the standards on the PFT and made achieving a 250-285 more difficult. Now the maximum score of 300 starts with 23 pullups (previously 20) 115 crunches (previously 100) and a 3 mile run of 18 minutes. The 3 mile timed run stayed the same.

Despite a defeat in Congress, advocates say they’ll keep pushing for women to register for the draft

Female Marine Corps recruits line up during boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California. The first class of female recruits arrived at San Diego in 2021, ending almost a hundred years when the boot camp accepted only men.

Congress dropped a controversial measure that would require women to register for the Selective Service. Men are required to register once they turn 18.

It was the closest the U.S. has come to requiring women to register for the Selective Service: Both the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the historic change as they debated the annual defense spending package for 2022.

Then, earlier this month, it was stripped out during closed-door negotiations.

The Selective Service is one of the last pieces of federal law where men and women are not treated equally. Men are required to register once they turn 18, meaning they could be forced into the military if Congress and the President ever reinstate the draft.

Support for requiring women to register has united unlikely political allies. Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from New York, a member of the Armed Services Committee, called it a gender equality and a national defense issue.

“To say, ‘Only men are needed,’ in that moment of a national emergency, is outrageous and obscene,” Gillibrand said at a December 8 news conference. In a statement she said she’ll continue to pursue “all legislative routes to implement this policy” through annual defense spending or a standalone bill.

Joni Ernst, Republican senator from Iowa and an Army veteran, also backs the measure. Ernst said a draft is very unlikely, and the all-volunteer force is preferable, but women would be essential in any future conflict. Ernst said a woman wouldn’t necessarily be fighting on the frontlines.

“She could choose to serve in the infantry if she met the standard,” Ernst said. “She could also serve in a cyber unit, where she is sitting behind the lines where she’s safe, but certainly working to disrupt the enemy. All of these jobs are important.”

The call to include women in the Selective Service has picked up steam as women have expanded their footprint in the military, intensifying six years ago when women were allowed to serve in combat roles. While Congressional Democrats are largely united on the issue, Republicans are split.

Republican Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene said at a September meeting of the House Rules Committee that women would be unfairly disadvantaged if forced to fight.

“Men and women are not physically the same,” Greene said. “And women do not possess an equal opportunity to survive on the battlefield in direct combat with battle-hardened men. And I can say that as a woman who can deadlift 300 pounds, can do more pull-ups than anyone else in this room, and run faster than any of you.”

Other critics say women play important roles on the homefront during war, like raising families.

Selective Service program analysts Vince McClure (right) and Cristine Nguyen demonstrate the machines that would determine who would be drafted if the U.S. reinstates a military draft.

The push to require women to register with the Selective Service reflects a report last year from a commission Congress created. It concluded that the federal government keep the Selective Service in place as a last resort in case the U.S. ever faces a threat too big for the all-volunteer military to handle, It also recommended that women be required to register.

Republican former Congressman Joe Heck from Nevada, the commission chairman, said a big reason the commission made that recommendation is the lack of young people who could potentially qualify for military service.

“Seventy percent do not meet the standards, whether that’s due to mental health issues, drug use, height/weight issues, poor physical performance, [or] poor academic performance,” Heck said.

With the provision now stripped from the defense spending bill, Heck said Congress shirked its responsibility.

“[The] commission returned a report with a recommendation that both houses accepted in their respective drafts, only to have it taken out as a political maneuver,” Heck said.

Meanwhile, some feminist groups are calling on Congress to dismantle the Selective Service System all together. CODEPINK is an antiwar group that formed in 2002 during the runup to the Iraq war. National Director Carley Towne said supporters of expanding the Selective Service use “false feminist language.”

“It’s premised on the idea that gender equality means expanding the opportunity for women to be coerced into joining the U.S. military,” Towne said. “Our take is: abolish it for everyone. That is true gender equality.”

This summer, the Supreme Court rejected a case that argued the all-male Selective Service is discriminatory. The justices said the issue was for Congress to decide. Former Congressman Joe Heck hopes the Supreme Court will now revisit the issue.

“I think now the case is rife to go back and petition the Supreme Court to say: ‘Congress refused to act. Now what are you going to do?’”

This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans.Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

What height and weight do I need for the military?

It´s important to remember that if you want to enlist the Armed Forces, you’ll need to meet physical requirements on top of getting your target ASVAB test scores. Because of that, each applicant will have to take a military aptitude test. Of course, in each branch of the Armed Forces (Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Air Force) the physical tests, as well as weight and height requirements, are different.

Whatever branch you’re applying for, your weight and height requirements will depend on your age and gender. In this article, we’ll go over the basic body requirements to qualify for military enlistment.

Military Physical Requirements

Keep in mind all branches of the Armed Forces require applicants to have a good general state of health. In general, this means you’re physically fit to serve the country. Because of that, you’ll have to go through medical examinations including visual and hearing capacity tests, as well as toxicological tests.

The goal of these medical assessments is to detect health problems that could cause problems on the battlefield. For this reason and depending on their need, the service may reject applicants with gastrointestinal ulcers, hernias, anemia, and bleeding disorders. Medical tests will also detect joint problems that could lead to mobility problems and keep you from standing up or running for longer periods of time.

Age is also a requirement to get into the military. You need to be at least 18 years old to enter the Armed Forces! However, if a 17-year-old has the approval of his parents, they could enter before reaching 18″

How does the military take your weight and height?

During the physical examination, military personnel will take the official weight and height measurements of all applicants. This exam is done at Military Entry Processing Stations (MEPS). Typically, the record of measurements does not include decimals, that is, the number is rounded up or down to the nearest whole digit. For example, if your weight is 99.6 pounds, the official weight on the record will be 100 pounds.

Is it possible for an overweight person join to the Armed Forces?

Short answer: Sometimes.

If an applicant’s weight exceeds the maximum limit set by the Armed Forces, MEPS officials can choose to calculate their body fat percentage. Depending on the number, that result may influence the admission of an otherwise overweight applicant.

On the other hand, some applicants can get a weight exemption. This allows overweight individuals to enlist and lose weight during core training. In contrast, the height requirement only has exemptions for minors that could actually grow taller during training.

How is body fat percentage measured to enlist in the military?

Body fat percentage is estimated from a series of tape measurements around the neck and belly button. This estimate is not made routinely by MEPS officials, only to applicants who exceed the weight standards.

The percentage of fat admitted varies with age and between branches of the Armed Forces. Importantly, there are no exemptions for exceeding the body fat percentage limits. That means that if your body fat percentage exceeds that number, you won’t be recruited regardless of the rest of your test results.

These are the body fat limits in each branch, for men (first percentage) and women (second percentage):

  • Army: 24% and 30%,
  • Air Force: 20% and 28%,
  • Navy: 23% and 34%
  • Marine Corps: 18% and 26%.

What are the Army’s height and weight requirements?

For male candidates, the ideal height range to enter the Army is between 60 and 80 inches (152-203 centimeters). Therefore, if you go outside this range, you will be rejected. On the other hand, the height requirement for women is between 58 to 80 inches (147-203 centimeters).

The maximum weight range for men ages 17 to 20, depending on height, is 132 to 243 pounds (60 to 110 kilograms). For women of the same age, the range is 119 to 227 pounds (54 to 103 kilograms).

US Marine Corps height and weight requirements

In the case of the Marines, the height requirement is slightly narrower and it changes slightly from time to time. As of 2020, the height requirement is 58-78 inches (147-198 centimeters) for men and 58-72 inches (147-183 centimeters) for women. The maximum weight allowed varies by height, from 148 to 267 pounds (67 to 121 kilograms) for men and 120 to 184 pounds (54 to 83 kilograms) for women.

Air Force weight and height standards

For the Air Force, men and women up to age 20 have equal height and weight requirements. For entry, acceptable height is in the range of 58 to 80 inches (147-203 centimeters), while weight-based on height limits between 131 and 250 pounds (59 to 113 kilograms).

What are the Navy height and weight requirements?

In the Navy, the height requirement for both men and women ranges from 57 to 80 inches (145 to 203 centimeters). While the acceptable weight for men in relation to height ranges between 127 to 241 pounds (58 to 109 kilograms), in women, it set from 127 to 227 pounds (58 to 103 kilograms).

Height exemption for growing recruits

As we noted earlier, there are some exemptions to the physical requirements to enter the military. This is tied to the age of the applicant since some 17-year-olds can enlist with their parent’s approval.

Underage applicants that pass the entry process cannot be disqualified for growing beyond the required height range. However, your height can limit jobs that have height restrictions.

There are several notable cases of military youth growth exemptions, for example, basketball star David Robinson who in his first four years of service exceeded 80 inches in height. While playing professional basketball, he continued on active duty and later served in the Naval Reserve!

Final note

If you wish to enlist in the Armed Forces, you must be in your best physical condition. There are strict rules regarding weight, body fat, and health. However, the specific measurements change according to the needs of the forces. We made an effort to find the latest information, but you should check the official (and current) height and weight requirements on the Military’s official site here.

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