Loaded marching is a fundamental Army occupational task. PURPOSE: To investigate the efficacy of a modified physical training (PT) programme designed to enhance physical and physiological variables associated with improved loaded marching performance (LMP).
METHODS: Sixty five British Army infantry recruits, undergoing 26 weeks of initial training volunteered; mean ± SD age 20 ± 2.8 years, stature 1.75 ± 2.8 m, body mass 73.0 ± 10.2 kg. Maximal 2.4 km LMP, 2.4 km run time, O2max, static strength, dynamic strength and body composition were measured during weeks 1, 11 and 21 of training. Volunteers were assigned to a control or experimental group. The control group (n=32) were exposed to the existing PT programme (CON), whilst the experimental group (n=33) were exposed to a modified PT programme (MOD). The MOD PT programme was differentiated from CON by 13 high intensity interval training sessions and 15 field based resistance training sessions.
RESULTS: Data are expressed as mean ± SD and presented as CON vs. MOD. No differences (P>0.05) were observed between groups in any measures at week-1. At week-21, no differences were observed between groups for 2.4 km LMP (821 ± 38 s vs. 833 ± 48 s, P>0.05), O2max (4.06 ± 0.45 L·min-1 vs. 4.04 ± 0.41 L·min-1, P>0.05), 2.4 km run time (565 ± 29 s vs. 575 ± 26 s, P>0.05), or static lift strength (121.9 ± 20.1 kg vs.126.8 ± 21.4 kg, P>0.05). However, CON performed better in 2.4 km run time during week-11 (568 ± 28 s vs.597 ± 35 s, P<0.01), and 6.4 km LMP in week-21 (49.0 ± 3.4 min vs. 51.3 ± 2.5 min, P<0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: The modified PT intervention was no better than the existing PT programme at enhancing physical and physiological adaptation, and subsequent LMP. It is suggested that this may be a result of inadequate differentiation in the frequency and intensity of the PT stimuli between groups, which was due to the constraints that surrounded the modification of initial military training.