Influence of training frequency on fitness levels and perceived health status in deployed National Guard soldiers

Bradley J Warr, Dennis E Scofield, Barry A Spiering, Brent A Alvar
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2013, 27 (2): 315-22
While studies have examined changes in body composition, fitness, and other measures pre- and postdeployment, it is more difficult to characterize physical training practices during deployment. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between training frequency during deployment and changes in physical performance, body composition, and perceived health. Eighty-eight Soldiers (men, 76 and women, 12) from the National Guard performed 1 repetition maximum (1RM) bench press, 1RM back squat, and VO2peak testing within 30 days before and 10 days after deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. Soldiers completed a questionnaire pertaining to aerobic and strength training frequency, as well as perceived changes to health. Soldiers experienced significant (p ≤ 0.05) improvements in upper (11%) and lower body strength (14%), declines in body fat percent (-16%), but no change in VO2peak. About 57% of Soldiers reportedly performed aerobic training ≥3 times per week, whereas 67% performed strength training ≥3 times per week. Soldiers performing aerobic training ≥3 times per week responded differently than those who conducted aerobic training <3 times per week in VO2peak values (2 vs. -8%, p = 0.016). About 42% of Soldiers reported that their health improved, 36% reported no change to their health, and 22% reported that their health had declined. There was a significant association between training frequency and perceived health. About 50-58% of Soldiers who trained ≥3 times per week reported improvements in health during deployment, whereas only 21-24% of Soldiers who trained <3 times per week reported improvements in health for the same period of time. It seems that Soldiers who train ≥3 times per week experience a more advantageous response in terms of fitness levels and perceived health during deployments.

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