Gender and Physical Training Effects on Soldier Physical Competencies and Physiological Strain
DEFENCE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ORGANISATION VICTORIA (AUSTRALIA) HUMAN PROTECTION AND PERFORMANCE DIV
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We investigated the physical and occupational capabilities of male and females soldiers before and after 12 weeks of specialised physical training. The Combat Fitness Assessment CFA was employed to assess the infantry-related occupational capabilities, which consisted of a 15-km march at 5.5 kmh followed by the Run-Dodge-Jump RDJ activity. All soldiers 35 males and 28 females carried 34.6 kg, which was based on the requirements for a 3-day operation. Physiological assessments of muscular strength and endurance, and aerobic and anaerobic capacities were also performed. All males could complete the RDJ in a rested state, prior to the march, whereas the majority of females 57 could not complete the RDJ with weapon and webbing. The majority of males 91 completed the 15-km in 165 min, whereas fewer females could complete the march successfully 36. All infantry soldiers and the majority of combat-corps soldiers 79 could complete the post-march RDJ in less than 70 sec, whereas the fastest female required 73 sec to complete the course. The specialised physical training improved strength and aerobic capacity for the female group and strength only for the male group, although the female scores remained below those of the males. These improvements did not translate into improved success in the infantry-based CFA task. Therefore, assuming that this small sub-group of female soldiers are representative of the whole Army, it is likely that a small number of female soldiers are physically able to complete this assessment within the same performance limits as current infantry soldiers. The elevated environmental heat stress encountered during the post-specialised physical training CFA potentially masked any possible benefit gained from the physical training program. Combined with the dramatic drop in soldier numbers it is difficult to provide definitive conclusions as to the effectiveness of the specialised physical training program.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations
- Anatomy and Physiology