Potential Utility of a Loaded Treadmill Protocol for Tactical Athletes

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Abstract

Swearingen, JT, Weiss, LW, Smith, WA, Stephenson, MD, and Schilling, BK. Potential utility of a loaded treadmill protocol for tactical athletes. J Strength Cond Res 32(3): 610–616, 2018—Aerobic capacity is an important variable for tactical athletes, with V[Combining Dot Above]O2max being the most direct way of estimating it in a laboratory setting. A mode-specific protocol involving fixed-weight, torso-borne loads was assessed in the current study. On 4 separate days, 15 men (age 22.1 ± 2.7 years, mass 85.1 ± 10.6 kg, height 179.0 ± 7.7 cm) performed a weighted treadmill walking protocol (2 trials) and a nonweighted treadmill running protocol (2 trials). Both the weighted and nonweighted protocols were reliable, with intraclass correlation coefficient values of 0.79 and 0.87, respectively. V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak values from both protocols were highly correlated (r = 0.90, p < 0.01). However, V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak was higher during the nonweighted protocol (t = 7.547, d = 2.47, p < 0.01). Work rate was calculated for both the last completed stage and stage during which participants reached fatigue. Work rates for both protocols on the last completed stage were similar (t = 1.44, d = 0.83, p = 0.17), although the work rate for the final attempted stage was greater for the weighted-walking protocol (t = 5.85, d = 3.60, p < 0.01). These data suggest a weighted-walking V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak that is highly associated with a running V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak. This test may be applied to those who routinely perform torso-borne load carriage, such as tactical athletes. Future weighted-walking protocols should seek achieve higher resolution, especially near the end stage of the test where subjects reach volitional fatigue. Large increases in work rate may not be feasible at the end stages of the test.

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