Breanne S. Baker1 & Allen L. Redinger1

1Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma

PURPOSE: Military training is designed to improve service-specific performance outcomes, but college ROTC members’ training may be affected by academic breaks. This study aimed to evaluate the influence of spring break on body composition and physical performance. METHODS: All participants were tested in January, prior to spring break in March, and April. ROTC cadets (n=18, age=20.4±2.4, BMI=24.0±2.1) engaged in an eight-week military training from January to April while matched controls (n=18, age=21.2±1.8, BMI=24.0±2.4) were physically active at least 3x/wk during the same time. General health questionnaires, body composition scans (DXA), and physical performance (1RM bench/leg press and max vertical jump) were tested. A repeated measures ANOVA was used to test for group x time interactions and main effects, LSD post hoc analysis was used to decompose significant time effects; p≤0.05. RESULTS: At baseline, groups were equivalent for all measures and no significant interactions or group effects were found. Leg press 1RM increased from January to April while bench press 1RM and total body fat percentage improved only from January to March (Figure 1, all p<0.05). All jump measures increased from January to March (all p≤0.004) but changed inconsistently from March to April. CONCLUSION: Significant positive training adaptations occurred prior to spring break such as improvements in muscle strength (leg and bench press), muscle power (max vertical jump), and reduced body fat percentage. However, only leg press performance continued to increase after spring break suggesting ROTC and Controls had either altered their training volume/intensity to peak at spring break or a training plateau was reached. Regardless of mechanism, these data suggest ROTC training protocols might need to alter progression schemes around spring break to maximize positive changes during the spring training block.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The authors would like to thank all participants and Drs. Buchanan, Black, and Bembens for their efforts.

Figure 1.docx (40 kB)
Figure 1

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