Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Predictors of Military Task Performance: Maximal Lift Capacity

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Hydren, JR, Borges, AS, and Sharp, MA. Systematic review and meta-analysis of predictors of military task performance: maximal lift capacity. J Strength Cond Res 31(4): 1142–1164, 2017—Physical performance tests (e.g., physical employment tests, return-to-duty tests) are commonly used to predict occupational task performance to assess the ability of individuals to do a job. The purpose of this systematic review was to identify predictive tests that correlate well with maximal lifting capacity in military personnel. Three databases were searched and experts in the field were contacted, resulting in the identification of 9 reports confined to military personnel that presented correlations between predictor tests and job tasks that measured maximal lift capacity. These 9 studies used 9 variations of a maximal lift capacity test, which were pooled to evaluate comparisons. The predictive tests were categorized into 10 fitness domains, which in ranked order were as follows: body mass and composition, absolute aerobic capacity, dynamic strength, power, isometric strength, strength-endurance, speed, isokinetic strength, flexibility, and age. Limitations of these data include a restricted age range (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 20–35; no correlations to maximal lift capacity) and the limited number of comparisons available within the cited studies. Weighted mean correlations () and 95% CI were calculated for each test. Lean body mass (kg) was the strongest overall predictor (; 95% CI, 0.697–0.966). Tests of dynamic strength had stronger correlations than strength endurance (, 95% CI, 0.69–0.89 vs. , 95% CI, 0.21–0.61). The following 6 domains of physical performance predictive tests had pooled correlations of 0.40 or greater for combined-sex samples: dynamic strength, power, isometric strength, strength endurance, speed, and isokinetic strength. Anthropometric measures explain 24–54% of maximal lift capacity variance, and lean body mass alone accounts for ∼69%. This review provides summarized information to assist in the selection of predictive tests for maximal lifting capacity in military personnel.

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