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Christopher Bonilla1, Robert L. Herron1, Greg A. Ryan2, Jason C. Casey3, Brandon D. Spradley1. 1United States Sports Academy, Daphne, AL. 2Piedmont University, Demorest, GA. 3University of North Georgia, Gainesville, GA.

The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) aims to accurately reflect Soldier combat performance capability and includes a 3-rep-max deadlift (MDL), standing power throw (SPT), hand-release pushup (HRP), sprint-drag-carry (SDC), leg tuck (LTK), and two-mile run (2MR). The benefits of the current warmup protocol, known as the “Preparation Drill”, performed prior to the first event of the ACFT, is limited by subsequent idle periods in between events. This study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of implementing task-specific, post activation performance enhancement (PAPE) strategies, performed immediately prior to the event for which PAPE exercises are designed. The PAPE strategies were as follows: MDL = 1 rep at 10% higher than target 3RM, SPT = 5 consecutive vertical jumps, HRP = 5 plyometric pushups, SDC = 5 consecutive broad jumps, LTK = 5 medicine ball slams, and 2MR = 4 x 20 m sprints. METHODS: A total of 19 ROTC members completed two ACFT tests, separated by 72 hours. Approximately half (n = 10) completed the traditional “Preparation Drill” as their warmup prior to the first session and added PAPE warmup strategies as part of their second session. The remainder of the group (n = 9) completed the treatments in the opposite order to facilitate a repeated-measures, crossover design. The participants’ composite ACFT score (passing score = 360, max = 600 pts) was used to test for mean difference in a two-way (Time x Treatment), repeated measures ANOVA. RESULTS: The results of the two-way repeated measures ANOVA revealed that there was no interaction effect (Time x Treatment) (F(1,8) = 0.075, p = 0.79, ηp2 = 0.009) nor main effect of Treatment (F(1,8) = 0.084, p = 0.78, ηp2 = 0.010). However, there was a main effect of Time (F(1,8) = 58.87, p < 0.001, ηp2 = 0.88) (mean ACFT score ± SD: Session 1 = 527 ± 43, Session 2 = 537 ± 39). CONCLUSION: The results of this study did not support the use of additional PAPE strategies to improve ACFT performance. Of note, all passed by a large margin (range 428 - 600). Additionally, there was a practice effect when the test was completed twice, separated by 72 hours - with 17/19 participants matching or exceeding their first score. Therefore, further investigation is warranted with particular attention to minimizing the impact of familiarization and targeting soldiers whose scores are closer to the passing threshold for some - or all - events.

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