Effect of Specific Short-Term Physical Training on Fitness Measures in Conditioned Men

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Lester, ME, Sharp, MA, Werling, WC, Walker, LA, Cohen, BS, and Ruediger, TM. Effect of specific short-term physical training on fitness measures in conditioned men. J Strength Cond Res 28(3): 679–688, 2014—Physical training programs that enhance battlefield-related fitness needs have been increasingly advocated as operational demands on the US military have increased, but few studies have evaluated program effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to compare a novel 7-week physical training program with traditional army physical fitness training in improving the selected measures of physical fitness and military task performance. One hundred and eighty subjects performed a 30-m rush wearing a fighting load, a simulated casualty recovery wearing a fighting load, a 1-repetition maximum bench press, a maximum repetition pull-up test, a medicine ball put, a vertical jump, and a T-test agility drill to establish test-retest reliability and normative reference values. One hundred thirty-three subjects were assigned by block randomization to either traditional Army physical training (TT) of calisthenics and running or a novel program (NT) of calisthenics, resistance, aerobic, speed, power, and agility training. The results indicated that between-day reliability was high (intraclass correlation coefficients [ICCs] 3,1; 0.87–0.98) for all measures except for the casualty recovery (ICC 3,1; 0.67). Reliability improved for all the measures that were averaged over 3 trials (ICC 3,3; 0.93–0.95). The NT was superior to TT in improving bench press (8 vs. 3%; p < 0.01), medicine ball put (7 vs. 1%; p < 0.01), 30-m rush times (5 vs. 1%; p < 0.01), and casualty recovery times (17 vs. −15%; p < 0.01). These findings suggest that a short-term physical training program is effective in improving strength, power, and speed among previously conditioned men. Future studies should determine if similar training programs mitigate the injury risk in this population.

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