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Associations of Physical Fitness and Body Composition Characteristics With Simulated Military Task Performance

Pihlainen, Kai1; Santtila, Matti2; Häkkinen, Keijo3; Kyröläinen, Heikki2,3

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: April 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - p 1089–1098
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001921
Original Research

Pihlainen, K, Santtila, M, Häkkinen, K, and Kyröläinen, H. Associations of physical fitness and body composition characteristics with simulated military task performance. J Strength Cond Res 32(4): 1089–1098, 2018—The purpose of this study was to evaluate the associations of physical fitness and body composition characteristics with anaerobic endurance performance, tested in the combat load using the occupationally relevant military simulation test (MST). Eighty-one male soldiers, deployed to a crisis management operation in the Middle East, volunteered for the study and participated in a test battery consisting measurements of muscle strength, body composition characteristics, endurance capacity, and MST. A Spearman correlational analysis revealed that the strongest variable, correlated with MST time, was the countermovement jump performed with the combat load (CMJ2) (rs = −0.66, p < 0.001). Among the individual body composition variables, the MST time had the strongest relationship with fat percentage (rs = 0.53, p < 0.001) and skeletal muscle mass (SMM) (rs = −0.47, p < 0.001). The use of the dead mass ratio, which was calculated dividing body mass by fat mass accompanied with the weight of the combat load, increased body composition-based associations significantly, and this variable turned out to be the best single predictor for the MST performance (rs = −0.67, p < 0.001). Significant predictors of the MST time in the stepwise multivariate regression analysis included CMJ2, 3000 m, SMM, and push-ups. Together, these variables explained 66% (

, model p < 0.001) of the variance in the MST time. In conclusion, the novel MST is a promising military specific assessment method of muscle power of the lower extremities and endurance capacity, which are crucial performance components in anaerobic combat situations.

1Training Division, Defence Command, Finnish Defence Forces, Helsinki, Finland;

2Department of Leadership and Military Pedagogy, National Defence University, Helsinki, Finland; and

3Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

Address correspondence to Kai Pihlainen,

Copyright © 2018 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.