Last Updated
: 04 November, 2015

1.0     IntroductionExercise, Loaded March (1)

Until about the 18th century, military personnel seldom carried loads that exceeded 15 kg while they marched. Extra equipment was often moved by auxiliary transport such as horse and cart. The extra equipment often consisted of weapons and protection used by military personnel when they went into battle (e.g. swords and shields) (Knapik & Reynolds, 1997).

After the 18th century, auxiliary transport was de-emphasised and more disciplined armed forces required military personnel to carry their own loads (Knapik & Reynolds, 1997). As such, the Loaded March (also known as Load Carriage or Road Marching)  is now a common element and core skill for most modern military forces, with formal testing and assessment throughout the military career.

Build-up and conditioning for Loaded March training in a responsible and integrated way is necessary for preventing over-exertion, reducing injuries, and the optimal preparation of military personnel for operations and civilians for events. The structure and conduct of such build-up and conditioning training should not be left to individual insights or to chance.

Therefore, this preparation and training guide provides fitness professionals and enthusiasts with guidance and principles for the responsible and integrated inclusion of Loaded March training within a structured physical training programme.

An overview of the Loaded March can be found here.

1.1     What Does This Article Include?

  • Introduction
  • Training Disclaimer
  • Definitions
  • The Structure of Loaded March Training
  • Why Use A Gradual Build-up?
  • Embedding Load March Training in Training Programmes
  • Who Sets The Pace and How Fast Should It Be?
  • Individualising the Loaded March Training Programme
  • Research and Practical Tips
  • Speed March Training
  • Combining Loaded March and Speed March Training
  • Warm-up, Rest Discipline and Cool-down for Loaded March Training
  • Appendices:
    • Appendix A: Footwear Protocol
    • Appendix B: Warm-up, Rest Discipline and Cool-down During Loaded Marches
    • Appendix C: Instruction Card: Training Guidelines for Marching
  • Notes
  • References

A PDF version of this document can be found in the downloads section of the website.

1.2     Training Disclaimer

The Loaded March is considered an arduous form of physical training and it is important that individuals ensure that they:

  1. Have achieved an adequate level of physical fitness before commencing this form of training in order to avoid injury and the effects of over-exertion;
  2. Understand the arduous nature of this form of training;
  3. Utilise a graduated physical training programme, ideally incorporating strength and endurance training;
  4. Consult with a medical professional regarding their suitability to partake in such training if they have any medically-related queries; and/or
  5. Consult with a suitably qualified fitness professional regarding their suitability to partake in such training if they have any fitness-related queries.

1.3     Definitions

Exercise, Loaded MarchThere are a number of definitions to which the reader must acquaint themselves:

  1. Movements-on-foot: all movements by foot carried out by individuals or groups in which the movement is not done in column and not in step (individual pace length and frequency). Most of the movements-by-foot carried out by military personnel are carried out in this way (Fighting patrols, reconnaissance patrols and map-reading exercises are examples of movements-on-foot). The following definitions are special forms of movements-on-foot, with the main differences being:
    1. The speed of the movement; or
    2. The fact that the group(s) move in column or in step (same pace length and frequency); or
    3. The weight of the equipment carried.
    4. ‘Movement-on-foot’ is also known as ‘ground movement by foot’, ‘foot-borne movements’, or ‘dismounted movements’. In this article, ‘movement-on-foot’ refers to all of those types of movements.
  2. March: movement of a group in column and in step (same pace length and frequency). Marches are usually used for movements within barracks or in built-up areas (think soldiers marching through town on the television).
  3. Speed March (or Rapid March): rapid movement of an individual or group over a specific distance. During a Speed March, individuals alternate between walking and running. Depending on the nature of the Speed March and the level of fitness of the individual/group, choices can be made between:
    1. Duration of the walking component and the running component;
    2. The speed of walking and running; and
    3. Whether the group should march in column and in step (same pace length and frequency or not).
    4. Speed March is the term used in the British Army and Royal Marines and rapid march is typically used by non-UK military forces.
    5. Depending on the fitness of the individual/group and the packs being carried (weight), the marching tempo can be as fast as 9.5-10 km/hr (approximately 6-6.5 mph).
  4. Loaded Carry (or Forced March): the same as a march but at a much faster speed (pace).
    1. Depending on the fitness of the individual/group and the packs being carried (weight), the marching tempo can be as fast as 7-7.5 km/hr (4.5-5 mph).
    2. Loaded carry’s are usually used when one wants to move a group quickly but the weight of the packs does not allow for a Speed March.
  5. Drill: is primarily considered to be a skill and the physical exertion required is minimal. Drilling as a form of movement-on-foot will not be discussed in this article.

For purposes of clarity in this guide, the term ‘Loaded March’ will be used primarily, with reference to the above definitions as required. The Loaded March can also be known as load carriage or road marching.

2.0     The Structure of Loaded March Training

2.1     Physical Training & the Principle of Overload

The gradual increase in overload is an important principle of all physical training programmes. It is also important to balance all of the physical components. After all, Loaded March training is not the only physical component required by military personnel.

2.2     Underpinning Policies and Protocols

The co-ordination of physical training provided by military fitness instructors is formalised in the various policies and protocols, produced by the appropriate military school of physical training (see Military Fitness Policies and Protocols page), which contain the physical training objectives and the practical aspects with respect to planning and the contents of the physical training programme. Loaded March training is an important element within these documents.

Training, Marching2.3     Basic Principles for the Structure of Loaded March Training

The four basic principles shown below, illustrate how the build-up for loaded marching should be structured, and more importantly, the order that should be used (to prevent over-exertion during the build-up, no more than one training variable should be increased at any one time).

  • Principle 1 – Frequency: the first aspect that should be increased is the frequency of the training sessions. For example: start with one session per month, increase to twice per month, then to three times per month (see 10-day cycle, discussed later on).
  • Principle 2 – Duration (Time and Distance): you can then increase the duration (i.e. the number of kilometres or miles to be covered, which will also increase the time required) of the Loaded March. For example: from 4 km to 6 km to 8 km to 10 km.
  • Principle 3 – Intensity: the third element to be increased is the intensity. The intensity of the Loaded March is determined by:
    • Weight of the pack;
    • Speed (pace) of the march; and
    • The type of terrain (hilly or level, paved or unpaved).
    • Increasing the intensity can be combined with reducing the duration. For example: shift from 10 km with basic combat equipment (or lighter packs) to 8 km with full (or heavier) packs.
  • Principle 4 – Rest: good recovery between training sessions is essential in order to become better and stronger (the principle of super-compensation: If overreaching is planned and subsequent recovery is sufficient, positive adaptation and improved performance, sometimes called super-compensation, result).
When designing a Loaded March training programme, increase no more than one training variable at any one time.
Use the sequence: frequency > duration (distance + time) > intensity.

2.4     Which Loaded March Training Structure Should Be Used?

The structure used is dependent on a number of factors. An analysis of the operational requirements (military personnel) or event requirements (civilians) will elucidate what that means for the build-up. Factors to consider include:

  • Training objectives:
    • What kind of marching will have to be done;
    • At what speed;
    • With what packs (i.e. type of pack (webbing or Bergen) and weight);
    • Distance;
    • Terrain; and
    • In what conditions (cold, heat, sleep deprivation, etc.)?
  • Starting level of the individual or group; and
  • Training time available.

Soldier, Loaded Carry, Loaded March3.0     Why Use A Gradual Build-up?

The body will need time to adjust as the training intensity increases and this applies equally to:

  • Recruits going through initial military training, who are not yet accustomed to Loaded Marches;
  • Trained personnel who are preparing for an exercise, deployment or combat fitness test; and
  • Civilians preparing for events.

Good co-ordination of physical training is therefore important for:

  • Preventing over-exertion (primarily due to walking too many high-impact kilometres);
  • Reduce the likelihood of injury; and
  • To improve performance.

Over time, the following bodily adjustments will occur:

  • Adjustment to walking in boots (see Figure A below);
  • Muscles, tendons and cartilage become stronger; and
  • Bones (especially metatarsus) become stronger.

With the time required for these adjustments to take place being highly individualised, it is difficult to give an exact time indication. However, it can be stated with a degree of certainty, from research, that months rather than weeks will be required.

Build-up should be gradual to prevent over-exertion, reduce injury and to improve performance.

4.0     Embedding Load March Training in Training Programmes

Embedding Loaded March training within the physical training programme will ensure a gradual build-up and reduce the incidence of over-exertion. As such, Loaded March training should be embedded structurally for:

  • Military personnel in both initial military training (and all subsequent educational training programmes) and in the physical training programme for trained personnel.
  • Civilians in their own physical training programme or their training provider’s physical training programme.

A structured training programme is the way to formalise the required co-ordination between the various forms of fitness training.

Embed Loaded March training in training programmes.

5.0     Who Sets The Pace and How Fast Should It Be?

5.1     Marching (In Column and In Step)

During marches (in column and in step), preference should be given to having someone with an average pace length and an average speed at the front set the pace. If the pace-setter is too tall, many people in the unit could encounter difficulties because the pace is too fast and the pace length is too long (forced march). A pace-setter who is shorter than average, will usually set a slower and smaller pace. That will also cause problems.

When marching (in step and in column), have someone with an average pace length set the pace.

5.2     Marching (Not In Column and Not In Step)

During a march, when the group is not marching in step and in column, the principle of having a person with an average pace length and speed should still be the preferred option. Alternatively, the group could be subdivided into two or three sub-groups, based on pace length and walking speed (i.e. ability group levels).

During marching, (not in step or in column), the pace should be set by someone with an average pace length or the group should be sub-divided on the basis of pace length.

5.3     Speed

Training, Brecons Beacons, Special Forces, SASThe importance of walking speed in a Loaded March is often underestimated. Is the group expected to walk at 5, 5.5, 6 or 6.5 km/hr and is that speed being maintained?

That will depend, of course, on the purpose of the Loaded March, the terrain and the weight of the packs. If the speed is too fast, it may impact on the effectiveness of the group in future operations (i.e. war-fighting) after the Loaded March has finished.

Research has shown that the heart rate increases at a higher rate when walking speeds increase. Heart rates will increase by (approximately):

  • 5 beats/minute when the speed is increased from 5 to 5.5 km/hr (and is maintained);
  • 10 beats/minute when the speed goes from 5.5 to 6 km/hr; and
  • 15 beats/minute when the speed is increased from 6 to 6.5 km/hr.

Accurate estimation and monitoring of walking speed can be done by monitoring the time taken to traverse a specific distance (or route).

Table 1, below, can be used to determine whether the appropriate walking speed has been selected (times have been rounded for easier calculation).

Table 1: Determining appropriate walking speed
Walking Speed (km/hr) Minutes per Km Seconds per 100m
4.0 15.00 90
4.5 13.20 80
5.0 12.00 72
5.5 11.00 66
6.0 10.00 60
6.5 9.15 55
7.0 8.30 51
Pick a walking speed and maintain it as accurately as possible during the Loaded March.

6.0     Individualising the Loaded March Training Programme

There are several good reasons for individualising the Loaded March training programme and these are discussed below individually. They relate to:

  • The different tasks and roles in a unit;
  • Differences in body weight; and
  • Injuries, illness or prolonged absence lowering an individual’s physical capacity and performance.

6.1     Different Tasks and Roles for Military Personnel & Events for Civilians

The differing tasks and roles of military personnel should be considered when developing a Loaded March training programme. For example, would the physical demands of the task require high levels of aerobic power (speed) such as urban patrolling or high levels of aerobic capacity (endurance) and load carrying ability (muscular strength/endurance) such as rural patrolling. This could mean that two cohorts with different training objectives are created from within a single group.

For civilians, different training objectives are not normally an issue, as all individuals will usually be competing in the same event. However, the use of ability group levels may be warranted so that weaker and stronger individuals can train in an environment conducive to progressive training; therefore reducing the likelihood of injury and over-exertion (see preparation and adjustment periods below).

Loaded March training should take account of the different tasks and roles required of military personnel.

6.2     Difference in Bodyweight

Dr Lara Herbert, then a Royal Navy Lieutenant, is the second woman to complete the All Arms Commando Course, and the first to complete in one go.
Dr Lara Herbert, then a Royal Navy Lieutenant, is the second woman to complete the All Arms Commando Course, and the first to complete in one go.

If the tasks and roles within a group are the same but there are differences in the bodyweight of the individuals, this should be taken into account in the training programme.

An individual who weighs 60 kg will have more difficulty with a 40 kg pack than a person weighing 100 kg. This may appear contrary to the idea that everyone in the group has to carry the same pack (weight) and therefore trains with that pack. The point is to strike a balance in training between taking the stride length and bodyweight into account and also taking into account the necessity of being able to carry out the task.

This sometimes means training with packs based on a specific percentage of the individual’s bodyweight, and sometimes with packs that have to do with the task (operational, group weapons, water, etc.). A practical ratio for the weight of the pack, expressed as a percentage of body weight is:

  • Men: 25% > 40%; and
  • Women: 20% > 32%.

Research (Knapick et al., 1993) in the United States demonstrates that fit soldiers (in this case special operations soldiers) are able to carry a load equivalent to 45% of bodyweight for a period of 8 hours (average movement speed of 4 km/hr, including rest periods). The difference between men and women in the ratio of weight carried is due to the fact that women have relatively less muscle mass than men.

However, a small percentage of military personnel have a relatively low bodyweight, resulting in training with weight that is far removed from the weight required for the task-related operations. It is advised that this group of individuals train with the percentages highlighted above during a preparation period of training (i.e. at the beginning and middle periods of training) and progressing to the pack weight required for the task-related operations during an adjustment period (i.e. towards the end period of training). This would aid an individual’s motivation and reduce the incidence of injury and over-exertion.

During training, the weight of the pack should be based on a percentage of body weight.
Women: Build up from 20% to 32%;
Men: Build up from 25% to 40%.
(During the adjustment period, increase the percentage to the required pack weight).

The above guidelines will not be appropriate for groups that move with (extremely) heavy packs. Additional guidelines for those groups are provided in recommendation 3 below.

6.3     Reduced Performance due to Injuries, Illness or another Reason for Absence

A modified (individualised) programme should be developed for those individuals whose performance may be reduced due to injuries, long-term illness or other periods of absence from training.

Individuals’ who have not trained for a period of approximately six weeks or more are advised not to immediately rejoin their group’s physical training programme at the current level, otherwise the reason for the training absence may recur (i.e. injury).

Such an individual would not be physical training ‘fit’ yet. Therefore, in the event of an injury, illness or absence for other reasons, it is advisable to apply the 50% rule. This means that those individuals rejoining the physical training programme should, as a general rule, do so at 50% of the time they missed (e.g. missing 6 weeks of training means go back 3 weeks).

The number of weeks that an injury or illness last serves as a guideline for where individuals should rejoin the programme.
Use the 50% rule: 6 weeks of missed training means going back 3 weeks (50% of 6 weeks) in the programme.

7.0     Research and Practical Tips

There are three additional recommendations that can be given on the basis of research into Loaded March training.

Recommendation 1: Combine Loaded March training with strength and endurance training.

Research (Kraemer et al., 1987; Kraemer et al., 2001; Williams et al., 2002) demonstrates that Loaded March training combined with strength and endurance training will result in the most progress in Loaded March performance. For Loaded March training with heavy packs, both sufficient muscle mass (upper body, muscle mass, ‘stretching chain’, torso strength) and a basic level of endurance is required.

The preferred mix is two strength-training sessions and two endurance-training sessions per week. These sessions can be combined (strength and endurance during the same session). A Loaded March training session should not be combined, in a single session, with a strength or endurance training session.

Combine Loaded March training with strength and endurance training.

Recommendation 2: Loaded March training should be done according to a 10-day cycle.

An important aspect of Loaded March training is striking a balance between steady improvement and avoiding over-exertion. Research by Knapick et al. (1990) has demonstrated that balance will be found in training programmes scheduled from once a week to once per 2 weeks. A 10-day cycle is a good guideline. In determining the frequency, it is also important to keep the training objectives and the capability of the group in mind. If the training is intended to prepare a group for the International Four-Days’ Marches in Nijmegen, for example, the programme should also include multi-day training sessions in order to train for that specific purpose.

Loaded March training should be conducted according to a 10-day cycle.

Recommendation 3: Include short, intensive Loaded Marching in the training programme.

For groups whose tasks or roles require Loaded Marching with heavy packs (e.g. 30 kg to 40 kg or more), it is necessary to include short, intensive marching in the training programme.

By increasing the intensity (weight of the packs) and reducing the distance substantially, more training benefits can be achieved in less time (i.e. more efficient). Such a training programme should involve alternating between relatively longer marches with packs weighing approximately 25 kg and short, intensive marches with heavier packs (for example: 6 km movement on foot divided in 4 blocks of 1.5 km with 45-kg packs. Each 1.5-km block is followed by 5 to 10 minutes of rest with the packs resting off the shoulders (to promote blood circulation/prevent pinched veins/arteries)).

It should be noted here, however, that these short, intensive marches must not be used for individuals in initial training or for those who have not taken part in Loaded March training for a long period of time. The individual must be well trained and strong enough (i.e. conditioned) to be able to cope with this modality of intensive Loaded Marching.

Incorporate short, intensive Loaded Marches in the training programme for groups that require it as part of their task operations or event.
Do not use short, intensive movement training during initial military training or for individuals who have not been trained to this level for a long period of time.

8.0     Speed March Training

There are some additional guidelines for Speed March training and these are discussed below.

8.1     The Purpose of a Speed March

A Speed March is an effective way of moving a group quickly from point A to point B. In practice, this can be completed in a wide variety of ways, depending on the objective. There are three fundamental factors to consider:

  • The weight of the pack (fundamental in setting the running speed);
  • The fitness of the group; and
  • Will a major action (i.e. war-fighting) have to be carried out upon arrival at the destination or it is more important simply to get to the destination as quickly as possible.

Conducting a Speed March, and training for it, must therefore always be focused on the objective. Some examples are shown below:

  • Moving a group as quickly as possible out of an area where a NBC (nuclear, biological or chemical) attack has taken place.
    • Distance: 3-5 km.
    • Pack: minimum required (basic combat equipment; weight ±10 kg).
    • Speed: The running portion is large, at high speed. The walking portion is minimal at high speed.
  • Moving a group to an attack area, carrying out an action and then leaving the area.
    • Distance: 3-5 km.
    • Pack: basic combat equipment + extra materiel; weight ±15-20 kg).
    • Speed into attack area: alternating the running portion and walking portion to ensure that the group can still go into action upon arrival (e.g. 2 min walking and 1 min running or 1 min walking and 1 min running).
    • Speed on leaving attack area: possibly with less materiel; running portion greater than walking portion (e.g. 2 min running and 1 min walking or 1 min running and half a minute walking).
  • Combat Fitness Tests with pre-set requirements to ensure an advanced level of fitness (see The Loaded March: Overview).
    • Advanced Combat Fitness Test 1 (ACFT 1):
      • Distance: 2.4 km.
      • Pack: Basic combat equipment + small backpack or mainframe: 20 kg (44 lb).
      • Speed: 15 minutes. Speed March protocol to achieve 15 minutes: 2 minutes running (9 km/hr (300 m in 2 min)) + 1 minute walking (6 km/hr (100 m in 1 min)).
    • ACFT 2 (Day 1):
      • Distance: 20 km.
      • Pack: Basic combat equipment + large backpack or mainframe: 30 kg (66 lb).
      • Speed: 3 hours and 30 minutes. Loaded Carry protocol to achieve 3 hours and 30 minutes: 210 minutes walking (6 km/hr (100 m in 1 min)).

8.2     The Conduct of Speed March Training

The basic principles for the conduct of the Loaded March training were discussed earlier and the principles are more or less the same for the Speed March. However, one of the main characteristics of a Speed March is its high-impact nature (i.e. its impact on tendons, ligaments and joints). The combination of the high-impact and the wearing of combat boots can result in the increased likelihood of injury (e.g. Achilles’ heel and lower leg complaints). By following these simple steps, the incidence of injury can be reduced:

  • Start with normal marching: the body will adjust and boots can be ‘worn in’;
  • Footwear: individuals should wear running shoes during the first two Speed Marches. Emphasis should be on learning the Speed March discipline without overdue exertion and stress.
  • Unpaved surface: a level, unpaved surface (e.g. forest path) should be used to provide more absorption of the high-impact shocks;
  • Strength and Endurance: strength and endurance training should be combined with specific Speed March training in order to optimise Speed March performance;
  • Endurance: is a decisive factor in Speed Marching. Endurance can be improved by conducting an endurance training session at least twice per week;
  • Intensity: the final element to be increased is the intensity of Speed March training. A logical build-up in intensity would entail:
    • Increasing the weight of the packs;
    • Increasing the running speed;
    • Reducing walking time and increasing running time, e.g.:
      • Two minutes of walking, one minute of running;
      • One minute of walking, one minute of running;
      • One minute of walking, two minutes of running.
When structuring Speed March training, the following should be borne in mind:

  • Start with normal marching;
  • Start with low-impact on an unpaved surface with running shoes;
  • Combine with strength and endurance training; and
  • Only increase the intensity (weight of pack, speed, walking interval) towards the end.

9.0     Combining Loaded March and Speed March Training

A number of general training principles have been discussed, including some variations for Speed Marching. However, it is often the case in practice that training has to combine Loaded Carry’s with Speed Marching. In this case, the following principles apply:

  • Follow the principles of gradual build-up (frequency, duration and intensity);
  • Begin with basic Loaded March training and commence Speed March training after three or four weeks; and
  • Alternate between Loaded March and Speed Marching. This should enable the body to recover between the two forms of training. Use a weekly training schedule (i.e. shorten the normal 10-day frequency a bit!). Conduct Loaded March training one week and Speed March training on the alternative week.
Alternate between Loaded March and Speed March training on a weekly cycle
(i.e. deviation from normal 10-day cycle); and
Conduct Loaded March training one week and Speed March training on the alternative week.

10.0     Warm-up, Rest Discipline and Cool-down for Load March Training

Appendix B outlines the warm-up, rest discipline and cool-down components required for physical training activities, such as Loaded Marches. This is especially important for preventing injuries during Speed March training.

Appendix A
FOOTWEAR PROTOCOL

A1.0     Injuries and Research

Military physical training and wearing military footwear (i.e. combat boots) that has not been ‘worn in’ can combine to make training that is more difficult than the average person may be used to. The results and conclusions from research are clear and unequivocal. Numerous injuries, most of which are caused by over-exertion, are caused to the feet, ankles and knees. This research has also demonstrated that the number of injuries decreases if individuals wear their combat boots in gradually.

A2.0     The Aim of the Footwear Protocol

The aim of the footwear protocol is two-fold:

  1. Reduce the number of injuries to a minimum; and
  2. Making optimal use of training time.

A3.0     Implementation of the Footwear Protocol

The footwear protocol is divided into three distinct time periods which are discussed below:

  1. During weeks one and two of training:
    1. In barracks: running shoes should be worn rather than combat boots for a couple of hours per day when appropriate during duty hours.
    2. Off-barracks duty/exercises: during off-barracks duty or exercises of one or more days in the first 2 weeks, running shoes should be worn rather than combat boots for a couple of hours per day when appropriate.
    3. Running: no running, Speed Marching or Loaded Carry’s with combat boots. ‘Wearing-in’ marching is recommended: a maximum distance of 5 km with a maximum speed of 5.5 km/hr, wearing combat dress or event attire.
    4. Wearing protocol: alternate between the two pairs of combat boots issued so that both pairs are ‘worn in’. However, it is recommended to always wear the same pair of combat boots for the different physical training session’s encountered (e.g. pair one for patrolling, and map-reading and pair two for Speed Marches and Loaded Carry’s). Civilians may only have one pair of boots and it is advised to complete the event in the boots used for training.
  2. During weeks three and four of training:
    1. In-barracks days: unrestricted wearing of combat boots on in-barracks days.
    2. Off-barracks duty over several days: running shoes should be worn rather than combat boots during theory lessons and/or when it is appropriate, for a couple of hours per day.
    3. After Loaded March training: after Loaded March or similar physical training, running shoes should be worn rather than combat boots for a couple of hours per day, when appropriate.
  3. After the first four weeks of training: after Loaded March training or field duty, running shoes should be worn rather than combat boots for a couple of hours per day when appropriate.

The principles outlined above are rather general in nature and other important factors to consider when implementing these principles include:

  • Weather conditions;
  • The baseline physical capacity of the individual/group;
  • The type and duration of Loaded March training;
  • The total weekly physical training undertaken.
Appendix B
WARM-UP, REST DISCIPLINE AND COOL-DOWN DURING LOADED MARCHES

B1.0     Background

Physical Training takes place across a spectrum of activities such as circuit training, running, sports (termed ‘physical exercise/sports lessons’) and Loaded Marches, patrolling and map-reading exercises (termed ‘physical training’). Activities such as Loaded Marching, map-reading and operations are physical training stimuli that have an influence on the training condition of individuals. Therefore, the optimal alignment of physical exercise and physical training activities is a prerequisite for:

  1. Maintaining and improving the required degree of physical fitness;
  2. Using the available training time efficiently. Training too much or improperly will not result in the desired effect(s) and can lead to being over-trained, injuries and/or a decrease in the level of physical fitness.

B2.0     Structure of Physical Training Lessons and Measures to Prevent Injuries

When conducting physical training it must, just like any other fitness training, be composed of three elements:

  1. The warm-up;
  2. The main theme (i.e. the actual physical training); and
  3. The cool-down (including stretching exercises).

This structure is the accepted norm for exercise and fitness sessions, and physical training is no exception. As with other fitness training, this structure is intended to aid the training process and reduce the incidence of injury and over-exertion. The whole training programme must also be structured in accordance with these general training principles.

B3.0     Guidelines for Warm-up, Rest Discipline and Cool-down as Part of Physical Training Activities

B3.1     General

The warm-up and cool-down should be adjusted to the nature of the physical training activity to be conducted.

B3.2     Loaded March Training

  • Warm-up:
    • Start by walking at a slower pace than the desired Loaded March pace, with individuals of average height in the lead.
    • Have individual’s walk at their own pace length.
    • Stop after 10-15 min, complete mobility exercises, adjust personal combat equipment and packs; as required.
  • Main Theme (Loaded March):
    • Form up and conduct the Loaded March. Patrolling is conducted as ground and operational requirement dictate, Loaded Carry’s and Speed Marches according to marching discipline.
    • Start the Loaded March at a slow pace and build it up over five to ten minutes to the desired speed.
    • Ideally rest after every hour. The first rest should not last longer than five minutes. It is primarily for retying shoe laces (to prevent boots from pinching) and readjust equipment as required.
    • A second – and third if necessary – rest period will be longer (5-10 minutes), during which time individuals can eat, drink, do foot care, etc.
    • The rest should not be too long or the body will cool off.
    • After the rest, build the tempo up again to the desired speed.
  • Cool-down:
    • When the Loaded March has been completed: rest with the packs hanging off the shoulders, followed by stretching exercises (see below).
An appropriately structured PT activity also includes warming up, cooling down, and stretching exercises. This will increase the effectiveness of the PT training and reduce the chance of injuries.

B4.0     Stretching Exercises

The purpose of stretching exercises is to aid the recovery process after completion of the Loaded March, and should be completed after the cool-down.

The following principles apply to stretching exercises:

  • Always assume the correct starting position;
  • Tighten the muscle gradually and hold taut for 15-30 seconds (feel the strain, not the pain); and
  • Repeat the exercise after a short interval.

Table 2 outlines appropriate stretching exercises.

Table 2: Stretching exercises
Muscle Group Illustration Description
Calf muscle
(gastrocnemius)
Stretch, Calf Muscle, Gastrocnemius
  • Stretch one leg to the rear.
  • The toes of both feet point forwards.
  • Bring the hip forward slowly.
  • Ensure that the heel of the back foot stays on the ground.
Calf muscle
(soleus)
Stretch, Calf Muscle, Soleus
  • Stretch one leg to the rear.
  • The toes of both feet point forwards.
  • Push the knee of the back leg as close to the ground as possible.
  • Ensure that the heel of the back foot stays on the ground.
Upper leg, front
(quadriceps)
Stretch, Upper Leg, Front, Quadriceps
  • Grab the foot and pull it up as close as possible to the buttocks.
  • Keep the knees together and bring the hips forward.
Upper leg, back
(hamstrings)
Stretch, Upper Leg, Back, Hamstrings
  • Place the feet next to each other.
  • Bend forward from the waist as low as possible.
  • Keep the legs as straight as possible or bend the knees slightly.
  • Alternate every five seconds.
Upper legs, inseam
muscles
Stretch, Upper Legs, Abductors
  • Spread the feet approx. 1 m apart.
  • The toes of both feet point forwards.
  • Place the hands on the hips.
  • Move the right knee slightly forward and lean the upper body to the left.
  • Keep the upper body straight and vertical.
  • Repeat, alternating the legs and upper-body movements.

B5.0     Adverse Weather Conditions (Heat and Cold)

B5.1     Warm-weather Tips

  • Protect yourself from sunshine (clothing, head gear, sun glasses, sun block, etc.).
  • Adjust activity level and work/rest schedule, as appropriate.
  • Wear suitable clothing (well-ventilated, no helmet etc.).
  • Know what do in the event of overheating (see Overheating Injury Instruction Card).
  • Drink enough fluid, guidelines suggest:
    • Before starting, drink at least 500 ml.
    • During marching, drink at least 125 ml every 20 minutes.
    • Drink at least 500 ml during rest breaks.

B5.2     Cold-weather Tips

  • Clean clothing: personal hygiene, change (under)clothes regularly.
  • Avoid excess perspiration: adjust clothing to suit the temperature. A ‘cold start’ is better than starting by wearing a lot of clothing. Ventilate as required.
  • Loose clothing in layers: the air between the layers is good insulation. If you wear layers, it will be easier to adjust to match the outside temperature.
  • Dry clothing: put rain gear on as soon as possible. Avoid excessive perspiration;
  • Suitable clothing: take the time to fit your clothes and get them right, make sure they are snug around ankles, wrists and neck.
  • Food and drink: eat your rations and drink enough when you do; do not consume alcohol.
  • Footwear: tight shoes pinch off circulation, leading to hypothermia (excess cooling).

It is important to consider the above points regardless of the duration of the activity to be undertaken, i.e. a short event such as the three mile Speed March versus a longer, multi-day event such as the Garelochhead 2-day Marches.

Further information can be found in the ‘Clothing and Adverse Conditions’ section.

Appendix C
INSTRUCTION CARD: TRAINING GUIDELINES FOR MARCHING
(1) When following a Loaded March training programme, increase no more than one training variable at any one time, and use the following order: frequency > duration (distance + time) > intensity.
(2) Gradually build-up (to prevent over-exertion and improve performance capability).
(3) Embed Loaded March training in training programmes.
(4) Setting the pace:
• When marching (in step and in column), have an individual with an average pace length set the pace;
• During marching (not in step or in column), the pace should be set by individual with an average pace length or the group should be sub-divided on the basis of pace length; and
• Pick a walking speed and maintain it as accurately as possible during marching.
(5) Individualise Loaded March training:
• Loaded March training should keep the different tasks/roles/objectives required in the group in mind (which may mean using ability group levels);
• During training, the weight of the pack should be based on a percentage of body weight; and
• Remember, individuals returning after an injury or illness will be less fit (50% rule).
(6) Practical Tips:
• Combine Loaded March training with strength and endurance training;
• Adhere to a 10-day cycle for Loaded March training;
• Incorporate short, intensive Loaded Marches in the training programme for groups that require it as part of their task operations/event; and
• Do not use short, intensive Loaded March training during initial military training and for individuals who have not been trained to this level for a long period of time.
(7) When conducting Speed March training, the following should be borne in mind:
• Start with no packs, on unpaved surface and with running shoes;
• Combine with strength and endurance training; and
• Only then increase the intensity (weight of pack, speed, walking interval).
(8) Combination programme: in a weekly cycle, one week Loaded March, followed one week Speed March (i.e. deviation from a normal 10-day cycle).
(9) Use a warm-up, rest discipline and cool-down during Loaded March training; the same as any other form of fitness training.

11.1     References

Knapik, J.J. & Reynolds, K. (1997) Load Carriage in Military Operations: A Review of Historical, Physiological, Biomechanical, and Medical Aspects. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA330082> [Accessed: 12 May, 2013].

Knapik, J.J., Johnson, R., Ang, P., Meiselman, H., Bensel, C., Johnson, W., Flynn, B. & Hanlon, W. (1993) Road March Performance of Special Operations Soldiers Carrying Various Loads and Load Distributions. Technical Report No. T14-93. Natick, MA. US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

Kraemer, W.J., Vogel, J.A., Patton, J.F., Dziados, J.E. & Reynolds, K.L. (1987) The Effects of Various Physical Training Programs on Short Duration, High Intensity Load Bearing Performance and the Army Physical Fitness Test. Technical Report No. T30-87. Natick, MA. US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

Kraemer, W.J., Mazzetti, S.A., Nindl, B.C., Gotshalk, L.A., Volek, J.S., Bush, J.A., Marx, J.O., Dohi, K., Gomez, A.L., Miles, M., Fleck, S.J., Newton, R.U. & Hakkinen, K. (2001) Effect of Resistance Training on Women’s Strength/Power and Occupational Performances. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 33(6), pp.1011-1025.

Williams, A.G., Rayson, M.P. & Jones, D.A. (2002) Resistance Training and the Enhancement of the Gains in Material-handling Ability and Physical Fitness of British Army Recruits during Basic Training. Ergonomics. 45(4), pp.267-279.

Knapik, J.J., Bahrke, M., Staab, J., Reynolds, K., Vogel, J. & O’Connor, J. (1990) Frequency of Loaded March Training and Performance on a Loaded Road March. Technical Report No. T13-90. Natick, MA. US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

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