Can a Technique-focused Training Programme Improve Performance on Annual Fitness Tests?

Research Paper Title

Effects of technique-focused training in conjunction with physical readiness training on Army physical fitness test performance.

Background

The Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) is a semi-annual requirement.

While conducting physical readiness training (PRT) is a requirement for all Soldiers, there is no requirement to train Soldiers on techniques that may help to optimise their performance on the APFT.

Methods

A cohort of 34 officers that attended the Army Medical Department Basic Officer Leadership Course completed a technique-focused training programme in conjunction with their required PRT programme subsequent to failing one or more events on their initial APFT.

The training consisted of a 30-minute video lesson and an individualised performance assessment completed by an army physical therapist.

Results

Upon retest 10 days after the initial test, 27 (79.4%) participants passed the APFT with a mean improvement of 22.3 points on their overall APFT score. When evaluating change in performance by event based on failing the event initially, the observed improvement was an increase of over 9 push-ups, over 11 sit-ups, and nearly 2 minutes on the run event.

Conclusions

The addition of a technique-focused training programme to an existing PRT programme can result in significant short-term improvement for those with substandard APFT performance.

Reference

Thelen, M.D., Koppenhaver, S.L., Gill, N.W. & Shaffer, S.W. (2017) Effects of technique-focused training in conjunction with physical readiness training on Army physical fitness test performance. US Army Medical Department Journal. 2017 Oct-Dec;(3-17), pp.79-83.

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