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United States Army Physical Readiness Training: Rationale and Evaluation of the Physical Training Doctrine

Knapik, Joseph J1; Rieger, William2; Palkoska, Frank2; Camp, Steven Van2; Darakjy, Salima1

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2009 - Volume 23 - Issue 4 - pp 1353-1362
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318194df72
Brief Review

Knapik, JJ, Rieger, W, Palkoska, F, Van Camp, S, and Darakjy, S. United States Army physical readiness training: rationale and evaluation of the physical training doctrine. J Strength Cond Res 23(4): 1353-1362, 2009-This paper reviews the rationale and evaluations of Physical Readiness Training (PRT), the new U.S. Army physical training doctrine designed to improve soldiers' physical capability for military operations. The purposes of PRT are to improve physical fitness, prevent injuries, progressively train soldiers, and develop soldiers' self-confidence and discipline. The PRT follows the principles of progressive overload, regularity, specificity, precision, variety, and balance. Specificity was achieved by examining the standard list of military (warrior) tasks and determining 1) the physical requirements, 2) the fitness components involved, and 3) the training activities that most likely could improve the military tasks. Injury-prevention features include reduced running mileage, exercise variety (cross-training), and gradual, progressive training. In 3 military field studies, the overall adjusted risk of injury was 1.5-1.8 times higher in groups of soldiers performing traditional military physical training programs when compared with groups using a PRT program. Scores on the Army Physical Fitness Test were similar or higher in groups using PRT programs. In an 8-week laboratory study comparing PRT with a weightlifting/running program, both programs resulted in major improvements in militarily relevant tasks (e.g., 3.2-km walk/run with 32-kg load, 400-m run with 18-kg load, 5- to 30-second rushes to and from prone position, 80-kg casualty drag, obstacle course). When compared with traditional military physical training programs, PRT consistently resulted in fewer injuries and in equal or greater improvements in fitness and military task performance.

1U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen, Maryland; and 2U.S. Army Physical Fitness School, Fort Benning, Georgia

Address correspondence to Joseph Knapik,

© 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association