Weight-based Training & Military Physical Performance

RSM'S 50TH BIRTHDAY BFT & CFTResearch Paper Title

Effects of Two Different Eight-week Training Programs on Military Physical Performance.

Background

Various physical demands are placed on soldiers, whose effectiveness and survivability depend on their combat-specific physical fitness. Because sport training programmes involving weight-based training have proven effective, this study examined the value of such a programme for short-term military training using combat-relevant tests.

Methods

A male weight-based training (WBT) group (n = 15; mean +/- SD: 27.0 +/- 4.7 years, 173.8 +/- 5.8 cm, 80.9 +/- 12.7 kg) performed full-body weight-based training workouts, 3.2-km runs, interval training, agility training, and progressively loaded 8-km backpack hikes. A male Army Standardised Physical Training (SPT) group (n = 17; mean +/- SD: 29.0 +/- 4.6 years, 179.7 +/- 8.2 cm, 84.5 +/- 10.4 kg) followed the new Army Standardised Physical Training programme of stretching, varied calisthenics, movement drills, sprint intervals, shuttle running, and distance runs. Both groups exercised for 1.5 hours a day, 5 days a week for 8 weeks.

Results

The following training-induced changes were statistically significant (P < 0.05) for both training groups: 3.2-km run or walk with 32-kg load (minutes), 24.5 +/- 3.2 to 21.0 +/- 2.8 (SPT) and 24.9 +/- 2.8 to 21.1 +/- 2.2 (WBT); 400-m run with 18-kg load (seconds), 94.5 +/- 14.2 to 84.4 +/- 11.9 (SPT) and 100.1 +/- 16.1 to 84.0 +/- 8.4 (WBT); obstacle course with 18-kg load (seconds), 73.3 +/- 10.1 to 61.6 +/- 7.7 (SPT) and 66.8 +/- 10.0 to 60.1 +/- 8.7 (WBT); 5 30-m sprints to prone (seconds), 63.5 +/- 4.8 to 59.8 +/- 4.1 (SPT) and 60.4 +/- 4.2 to 58.9 +/- 2.7 (WBT); and 80-kg casualty rescue from 50 m (seconds), 65.8 +/- 40.0 to 42.1 +/- 9.9 (SPT) and 57.6 +/- 22.0 to 44.2 +/- 8.8 (WBT). Of these tests, only the obstacle course showed significant difference in improvement between the two training groups.

Conclusions

For short-term (i.e., 8-week) training of relatively untrained men, the Army’s new Standardised Physical Training programme and a weight-based training experimental programme can produce similar, significant, and meaningful improvements in military physical performance. Further research would be needed to determine whether weight-based training provides an advantage over a longer training period.

Source: Harman, A.E., Gutekunst, D.J., Frykman, P.N., Nindl, B.C., Alemany, J.A., Mello, R.P. & Sharp, M.A. (2008) Effects of Two Different Eight-week Training Programs on Military Physical Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 22(2), pp.524-534.

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