Kelsey A. Rushing, Simone A. Cannon, Jake A. Mintz, Brandon M. Roberts, Gregor W. Jenkins, Gordon Fisher, FACSM, Eric P. Plaisance, FACSM, Cody E. Morris. University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL.

Purpose: The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Program challenges student cadets mentally as well as physically to develop specific skills pertaining to critical thinking as well as leadership. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a physical fitness training program to improve the fitness performance capabilities of cadets in the events that were tested by the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT).Methods: Twenty-six student cadets of the University of Alabama at Birmingham ROTC program participated in the study. Over an 8-month period, the ROTC cadets trained on campus three days per week for one hour per session. Training was performed in a circuit training format and each participant cycled through each of the four training stations (Strength, Conditioning, Core, and Endurance) for 15 minutes each session (for a total training time of 60 minutes). Each cadet had body mass and body composition assessed as well as each component of the ACFT [maximum dead lift (MDL), standing power throw (SPT), hand release push-up (HRP), sprint-drag-carry (SDC), leg tuck/plank (LTK/PLK), and 2-mile run (2MR)]. Each variable was evaluated at three time points (pre-, mid-, and post-training program). Results: There was a significant difference in the 2MR score between time points [F(2,50) = 4.530, p = 0.016, = 0.153]. Upon using a Bonferroni correction to determine differences between groups, there was a significant difference between time point 1 and 3 (p = 0.02). However, no significant differences existed between time point 1 and 2 (p = 0.773) and time point 2 and 3 (p = 0.266). No other variables displayed a significant change across the three time points: body mass (p = 0.741), body fat percentage (p = 0.238), MDL (p = 0.061), SPT (p = 0.308), HRP (p = 0.126), SDC (p = 0.132), LTK/PLK (p = 0.583). Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest overall ineffectiveness of the Army ROTC exercise training program to improve ACFT performance over the span of an academic year with the exception of a steady improvement in aerobic endurance with the 2MR. Though the training program consisted of exercises tailored specifically to the ACFT, results showed that it did not necessarily improve the overall score.

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