The effectiveness of basic military training to improve functional lifting strength in new recruits
Australian Army recruits are required to meet the incumbent baseline physical employment standards (PES) during basic military training. A box lift and place (BLP) assessment is included in the PES, and it assesses the ability to perform essential muscular strength tasks. Therefore, basic military training must provide sufficient training stimulus to enable recruits to achieve the baseline BLP standard. A study was undertaken to investigate changes in the performance of 1-repetition maximum BLP in male (n = 154; age, 21.4 years) and female (n = 20; age, 23.1 years) recruits over the first 8 weeks of a 12-week basic military training course. Both male and female recruits showed modest improvements (2.2 6 5.9 kg and 3.0 6 3.1 kg, respectively; p # 0.05) in maximal BLP performance, and there were no differences between genders. The female recruits showed greater relative improvements compared with the male recruits (14.7 6 7.8% vs. 6.5 6 2.3%). Despite the modest improvements in BLP performance, 70% of female and 100% of male recruits achieved the baseline BLP standard (25 kg) during week 8. The 30% failure rate for female recruits, however, suggests that the basic training program should be improved. A training program that yields greater gains in muscular strength would likely increase female recruit BLP pass rates. Augmented muscular strength would also likely increase the number of recruits capable of achieving higher BLP standards for more physically demanding employment categories. A training program that yields greater improvements in muscular strength may also enable lower entry standards, thereby increasing the recruit pool.