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Resistance training and the enhancement of the gains in material-handling ability and physical fitness of British Army recruits during basic training

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The aim was to evaluate the efficacy of a modified British Army basic training that included resistance training in improving material-handling performance and physical fitness, and to compare the modified training directly with the normal basic training. Forty-three males [19.2 (2.6) years of age, 1764 (72) mm in height, 73.0 (10.6) kg in mass] and nine females [19.1 (2.2) years, 1641 (67) mm, 62.0 (7.2) kg] performed the modified basic training. Testing occurred in the week before and in the final week of the 11-week basic training. Improvements with the modified training were observed for all six material-handling tests, including 8-12% for maximal box lifting, 15-19% for repetitive lifting and carrying and 9-17% for loaded marching (all p <0.01), and other established measures of aerobic fitness, strength and kinanthropometric characteristics. Significantly greater improvements were observed for the modified training compared with the normal training in maximal box lift to 1.45 m (12.4 versus 1.7%, p <0.01), 3.2 km loaded march performance with 15 kg (8.9 versus 3.6%, p <0.05), estimated fat-free mass (4.2 versus 1.5%, p <0.001), predicted VO2max (1 min-1) (9.3 versus 4.1%, p <0.01) and dynamic lift to 1.45 m (15.5 versus 0.2%, p <0.001). It was concluded that the improvements in material-handling ability and other aspects of physical fitness brought about in recruits by British Army basic training can be enhanced by the use of a physical training programme that includes a carefully designed resistance training element. Of particular note are the improvements shown in performance on material-handling tasks that require muscular strength, as these represent many of the tasks that soldiers encounter in their military careers.
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Keywords: MILITARY PERSONNEL; PHYSICAL CONDITIONING; PHYSICAL FITNESS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

Publication date: March 15, 2002

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