The Effects of a Periodized vs. Traditional Military Training Program on 2-Mile Run Performance During the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT)

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The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of an experimental versus traditional military run training on 2-mile run ability in Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets. Fifty college-aged cadets were randomly placed into two groups and trained for four weeks with either an experimental running program (EXP, n=22) comprised of RPE intensity-specific, energy system based intervals or with traditional military running program (TRA, n=28) utilizing a crossover study design. A 2-mile run assessment was performed just prior to the start, at the end of the first 4 weeks, and again after the second 4 weeks of training following crossover. The EXP program significantly decreased 2-mile run times (961.3s ± 155.8s to 943.4 ± 140.2s, P=0.012, baseline to post 1) while the TRA group experienced a significant increase in run times (901.0 ± 79.2s vs. 913.9 ± 82.9s) over the same training period. There was a moderate effect size (d = 0.61, P=0.07) for the experimental run program to “reverse” the adverse effects of the traditional program within the 4-week training period (post 1 to post 2) following treatment crossover. Thus, for short-term training of military personnel, RPE intensity specific running program comprised of aerobic and anaerobic system development can enhance 2-mile run performance superior of a traditional program while reducing training volume (60 min per session vs. 43.2 min per session, respectively). Future research should extend the training period to determine efficacy of this training approach for long term improvement of aerobic capacity and possible reduction of musculoskeletal injury.

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