Warm-ups for Military Fitness Testing: Rapid Evidence Assessment of the Literature

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Abstract

Introduction

Warm-up exercises are commonly used before exercise as a method to physiologically prepare for strenuous physical activity. Various warm-up exercises are often implemented but without scientific merit and, at times, may be detrimental to performance.

Purpose/Objective

To date, no systematic reviews have examined the effectiveness of warm-up exercises for military physical fitness test (PFT) or combat fitness test (CFT). The purpose of this rapid evidence assessment of the literature was to examine the quantity, quality, and effectiveness of warm-up exercises for PFT and identify those that might increase PFT and/or CFT scores, as reported in the literature.

Methods

Literature searches of randomized controlled trials were performed across various databases from database inception to May 2011. Methodological quality of included studies was assessed using the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) 50 criteria for randomized controlled trial designs, and studies were individually described. Subject matter experts summarized the results applicable or generalizable to military testing.

Results

The search yielded a total of 1177 citations, with 37 fitting our inclusion criteria. Cardiovascular warm-ups increased sprint/running time, but dynamic stretching and dynamic warm-ups had the most positive outcome for the various exercise tests examined. Systematically, static stretching had no beneficial or detrimental effect on exercise performance but did improve range of movement exercises.

Conclusions

Selected warm-up exercise may increase PFT and possibly CFT scores. Further research is needed to investigate the efficacy of dynamic stretching and dynamic warm-ups.

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