Perspectives on aerobic and strength influences on military physical readiness: report of an international military physiology roundtable
Physical fitness training of military recruits is an enduring focus of armies. This is important for safe and effective performance of general tasks that anyone may have to perform in a military setting as well as preparation for more specialized training in specific job specialties. Decades of studies on occupationally specific physical requirements have characterized the dual aerobic and strength demands of typical military tasks; however, scientifically founded strategies to prepare recruits with a good mix of these 2 physiologically opposing capabilities have not been well established. High levels of aerobic training can compromise resistance training gains and increase injury rates. Resistance training requires a greater commitment of time and resources as well as a greater understanding of the science to produce true strength gains that may be beneficial to military performance. These are critical issues for modern armies with increased demands for well-prepared soldiers and fewer injury losses. The actual physical requirements tied to metrics of success in military jobs are also under renewed examination as women are increasingly integrated into military jobs previously performed only by men. At the third International Congress on Soldiers' Physical Performance, a roundtable of 10 physiologists with military expertise presented comparative perspectives on aerobic and strength training. These topics included the physiological basis of training benefits, how to train effectively, how to measure training effectiveness, considerations for the integration of women, and the big perspective. Key discussion points centered on (a) the significance of findings from research on integrated training, (b) strategies for effective strength development, and (c) injury reduction in training as well as the benefits of improved fitness to injury reduction across the force.