Mission essential fitness: comparison of functional circuit training to traditional Army physical training for active duty military

Katie M Heinrich, Vincent Spencer, Nathanael Fehl, Walker S Carlos Poston
Military Medicine 2012, 177 (10): 1125-30
Appropriate and effective physical fitness training is imperative for soldier survival and mission success. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of Mission Essential Fitness (MEF) circuit-style training program compared to standard Army Physical Readiness Training (APRT) on fitness, physiological, and body composition changes. Active duty Army personnel were randomly assigned to two groups (MEF = 34 or APRT = 33) for 8 weeks of training (15 sessions each). The MEF program included functional movements focused on strength, power, speed, and agility. Fifteen exercises were performed continuously for 60 to 90 seconds for 45 minutes. Baseline and post-test measures included the Army physical fitness test, physiological indicators, body composition, and additional fitness indicators. One-way analysis of covariance models indicated that MEF participants significantly increased their push-ups (p = 0.033), bench press (p = 0.001), and flexibility (p = 0.003) and significantly decreased their 2-mile run (p = 0.003) and step test heart rate (p = 0.004) compared to participants doing APRT. Both groups maintained body composition (p > 0.05) and reported no injuries. The MEF training program safely improved muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility, supporting functional fitness circuit-style exercise training for military personnel.

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