George L. Grieve, Ronald J. Reid, Christopher J. Sole, Kimbo E. Yee, Ryan S. Sacko, Christopher R. Bellon. The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, Charleston, SC.

BACKGROUND: Despite a variety of fitness tests across all branches of service, there remains a common requirement to test cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) to predict combat readiness and performance. However, no military CRF test resembles combat performance by including load carriage, acceleration/deceleration, change of direction, or an externally stimulated pace. This study aimed to assess the relationship between a weighted vest run (WVR) that resembles combat performance and CRF in a sample of active duty US Marines to determine if a WVR was a valid predictor of CRF. METHODS: Ten exercise-trained Marines (100% male, 23-34 yrs), from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps unit at The Citadel completed three testing visits separated by 7 days each. At the baseline visit, participants performed a 20m pacer test without a weighted vest, and had maximal handgrip strength, maximal vertical jump, and body composition (BODPOD) assessed. Participants then completed two separate exercise visits separated by 7 days in random order: a graded exercise test (GXT) to measure CRF and the WVR, which was a 20m pacer test with weighted vest. Pearson’s correlations were used to assess the relationship between measured CRF from the GXT and predicted CRF from the WVR. RESULTS: There was a moderate statistically significant correlation (r=0.673, p=0.033) between predicted VO2max from the WVR and measured VO2max via GXT. Though not significant, there were trending moderate correlations between baseline pacer test predicted VO2max and measured VO2max (r=0.608, p=0.082), as well as between predicted VO2max from the WVR and baseline pacer test predicted VO2max (r=0.551, p=0.124). In multiple regression analysis, there was no significant association between BMI, grip strength, and vertical jump height with predicted VO2max from the WVR. CONCLUSIONS: These suggest that performing a WVR is a valid predictor of CRF while resembling combat performance by including load carriage, change of direction, acceleration/deceleration, and an externally stimulated pace. Therefore, these data provide initial evidence of the potential for a WVR to replace traditional CRF field tests in tactical athletes. Future work should examine the relationship between CRF and WVR in a larger sample of US Marines and members of the other branches of the US Armed Forces.

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