Gianna F. Mastrofini1, Alexa J. Chandler1, Blaine S. Lints1, Harry P. Cintineo2, Bridget A. McFadden3, Shawn M. Arent, FACSM1. 1University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. 2Lindenwood University, Saint Charles, MO. 3Queens College, Queens, NY.

BACKGROUND: Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) prepares midshipmen (MIDN) for roles as future military officers. To ensure body composition and fitness standards are maintained, MIDN participate in weekly group physical training. The purpose of this analysis was to determine if there were any differences in MIDN performance across academic years as an estimation of progress during their four years in the NROTC program. METHODS: MIDN (n=63, age=19.8 ± 1.7) completed a battery of tests to assess their physical fitness. Waist-to-hip ratio was calculated from waist and hip circumferences and BMI was calculated from height and weight metrics. MIDN completed maximal countermovement vertical jumps (CMJ) with and without arm swing to determine peak anaerobic power via a digital contact mat. Following, MIDN performed the 20-meter shuttle run test as a field-based estimate of aerobic capacity. Military-specific performance assessments were done as a part of regular NRTOC training. To determine changes across class years, a one-way ANOVA was run on each variable with significance set at p<0.05. Cohen’s d (d) effect size assessed the magnitude of the difference between only the freshmen and senior academic years. RESULTS: No significant differences were found between the academic years for any of the variables assessed: BMI (p=0.274; d=0.259), waist-to-hip ratio (p=0.4237; d=0.629), CMJ with arm swing (p=0.949; d=0.130), CMJ with hands on hips (p=0.927; d=0.830), and aerobic capacity (p=0.753; d=0.063). In the Marine Corp NROTC physical readiness test (PRT), there were no significant differences found for pullups (p=0.106) and 3-mile run time (p=0.079). No significant differences were found in the Navy physical fitness test (PFT), pushups (p=0.473), and 1.5-mile run times (p=0.868). CONCLUSIONS: These findings show that for Fall 2021 the more senior MIDN did not have greater fitness than less senior MIDN. This indicates the current NROTC training model may not effectively improve fitness over the course of a college career, as it would be expected that fitness measures increase throughout four years of training. However, it is possible anaerobic power improves, as shown by the large effect size, but a larger sample size is needed to further investigate this. These results warrant future studies with a larger sample size of NROTC MIDN and longitudinal studies to assess changes over time.

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