Effect of training with and without a load on military fitness tests and marksmanship

David P. Swain*, Stacie I. Ringleb, Dayanand N. Naik, Courtney M. Butowicz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine whether military-style training performed while carrying a weighted vest and backpack (Load condition) resulted in superior training adaptations (specifically, changes in military fitness and marksmanship) than did more conventional training (No-Load condition). A total of 33 college-aged men and women (16 Load, 17 No-Load) completed all testing and 9 weeks of training (1 h·d -1, 4 d·wk -1). No-Load training consisted of military calisthenics, sprints, agility drills, and running. Load training was similar except that running was replaced with stair climbing, and Load increased across the 9 weeks to 20 kg for women and 30 kg for men. Pretraining and posttraining, all subjects performed an uphill treadmill test with full load to determine peak oxygen consumption (VO 2peak), the marine physical fitness test (PFT) and combat fitness test (CFT) without load, other fitness tests, and an indoor marksmanship test using a laser-fitted carbine. The marksmanship test was performed with full load and done before and immediately after a 200-m shuttle run performed in 60 seconds. Both groups significantly improved their VO 2peak, PFT, and CFT scores by similar amounts. Pretraining, shooting score decreased significantly after the 200-m run and then rapidly recovered, with no difference between groups. A similar, but nonsignificant, pattern in shooting scores was seen in both groups posttraining. In conclusion, loaded training did not produce measurable advantages compared with unloaded training in this population. A strenuous anaerobic challenge caused a temporary reduction in marksmanship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1857-1865
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Combat fitness test
  • Marine
  • Maximum oxygen consumption
  • Shooting performance


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