Gutekunst, D. J., Frykman, P. N., Nindl, B. C., Rarick, K. R., Mello, R. P., & Harman, E. A. (2006). Training-induced improvements in submaximal gait economy with and without a backpack/military load. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(5), Supplement abstract 1309.

This investigation assessed the effects of the U.S. Army’s new Standardized Physical Training program and a prototype program incorporating weight training on gait economy during submaximal walking, running, and military load carriage. Two groups of young men underwent eight weeks of physical training (1.5 hr/day, 5 day/wk). The Standardized Physical Training group (N=17) regimen included running, agility drills, and calisthenics such as sit-ups, pushups, pull-ups, lunges, vertical jumps, and body twists. The weight training group (N=15) underwent a program of weight lifting, running, interval training, agility drills, and hiking. During pre- and post-testing, oxygen consumption (VO2) was assessed under 3 conditions: walking (1.34 m/s), running (2.68 m/s), and carrying a 30 kg military load at 1.34 m/s. Gait economy (m·kg·mL-1) was calculated as speed divided by VO2.

There was no significant time by group interaction effects. VO2 decreased significantly by 3-5% and gait economy increased significantly by 4% while walking at 1.34 m/s with or without a military load. Neither VO2 nor gait economy changed significantly while running at 2.68 m/s. VO2 expressed as %VO2max decreased significantly by 10-14% after training, due in part to an increase in VO2max.

Implication. These training programs reduced submaximal VO2 and improve gait economy while walking unloaded and with a backpack load. This effect, combined with an increase in VO2max following training, may reduce fatigue and improve load carriage performance. The lack of difference between groups indicates that drills using a S's own body weight was just as effective as weight training in improving fitness and movement economy.

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