The Effects of Fitness Experts and Exercise Facilities on Physical Fitness in the Officer Candidate School Population
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
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Introduction: The Army recently overhauled its approach to physical fitness. A newly introduced training methodology called Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) seeks to integrate novelties such as the use of certified fitness experts to program physical training and fully equipped training facilities. The Tactical Athlete Performance Center (TAP-C) located on Fort Benning, Georgia, provides physical training capabilities that share similarities to the H2F initiative. The Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia is a unit the TAP-C professionals have trained. The purpose of this study is to determine the difference between non-expert and fully resourced, expert driven physical training outcomes in the Officer Candidate School population. The results of this study may serve to inform tactical athlete organizations of considerations when establishing similar programs. Materials and Methods: A retrospective cohort study design was used to determine the effect of a 12-week fully resourced physical training program designed by certified fitness experts on fitness of 228 officer candidates, as compared to the traditional, less-resourced physical training plan designed and led by OCS cadre on Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) performance and additional TAP-C physical performance measures. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to evaluate main effects of company on the ACFT and TAP-C physical test battery. Results: The comparison group performed significantly better on the overall ACFT and on the ACFT events of Hand-Release Push-Ups, Sprint-Drag-Carry, Leg Tuck, and 2-Mile Run. The intervention group performed significantly better on the 3-Repetition Maximum Deadlift and on the TAP-C physical tests of Standing Broad Jump, Mobility Assessment, and Grip Strength. There was no significant effect of either group on the performance of the Standing Power Throw or Maximum Pull-Up tests. Conclusions: The effects of a 12-week fully resourced physical training program designed by fitness experts varied depending on the specific physical fitness assessment. Movement quality significantly improved when officer candidates received fitness expert coaching. Officer candidates with access to strength training equipment were significantly stronger than their counterparts without access. The results of this study support the full integration of fitness experts into physical training programs to coach movement and program diversified physical training. Access to strength training equipment to optimize strength adaptations is also supported.