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More Training Info > Research - Training Diagnosis for a Load Carriage Task

Training Diagnosis for a Load Carriage Task

Summary of original research from Williams, Alun G., Rayson, Mark P. and Jones, David A. “Training Diagnosis for a Load Carriage Task.” Published in the National Strength and Conditioning Association's The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2004 Feb. 187(1): pp. 30-34.

Summary: In order to explore the possibility of making more accurate training recommendations for subjects completing a two-mile loaded “march” (hike) with a 25 kg (55 pounds) pack, 50 healthy male British Army recruits trained for ten weeks using two different training protocols: 1) running, hiking, and endurance-based circuit training (Circuits) or 2) running, hiking, and resistance training (Resistance.) Stronger subjects with lower endurance responded better to circuit-type training, while weaker subjects with higher endurance responded better to resistance training.

Specifics: The Circuits protocol consisted of endurance-based training, including high-repetition, low-force exercises using all major muscle groups (such as pushups, squat thrusts, biceps curls, bench triceps dips, step-ups, situps and the like). In circuits, subjects performed 30 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest to switch to the next exercise. The Resistance protocol included strength training twice a week, starting with relatively low volume to get participants used to the exercises, then increasing to 3-4 sets of 6 repetitions for each exercise with a minute of rest between sets. The exercises included variations on pull-ups, bench press, seated row, shoulder press, dead lift, leg press, biceps curls and upright rows.

Relevance: Such a study is important not only for preparing military personnel for duty but also for training of climbers, hikers, backpackers and trekkers. This study tried to distinguish whether specific areas of training deficiency (either muscular strength or aerobic endurance) can be quantified and improved upon with targeted training to correct the deficit.

Results: The authors conclude that simple field tests of strength and endurance can be used to identify those individuals who would benefit from specific training to improve loaded hiking performance. Those individuals who are stronger but less aerobically fit might benefit more from including endurance-based (Circuits) training in order to improve hiking performance. Conversely, people with higher pre-training ratios of aerobic endurance to strength (as indicated in the study’s shuttle run vs. upright pull and lower back extension data) would gain more from strength-based (Resistance) training programs.

Body Results Suggests: Research is now available that supports the intuitive conclusion many trainers use with their clients: if a subject lacks aerobic endurance and wishes to excel at hiking, training protocol that factors in strength and endurance to build aerobic endurance is critical, as in continuous movement Circuit training. (For an example of such circuit training that can be used during pre- or off-season to prepare yourself for skiing see www.bodyresults.com/e2skicircuit.asp). If on the other hand an individual lacks strength in the core muscles, upper back, hips and thighs, a more traditional training protocol that includes strength and endurance to build general strength (Resistance training) is critical for success.


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