Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 20

adaptation, as well as those that exhibit a high degree of skill crossover from sport to sport. Modalities such as gymnastics, Olympic and power lifting, plyometrics (exercises involving repeated stretching and contraction), yoga, running, and rowing are examples of these modal domains. Therefore, we recognize that a soldier is fit insofar as he or she is able to produce power over different durations and in different modalities (referring to types of physical activities that are improved by exercise). For example, under this definition the soldier who practices weightlifting, trail running, and kayaking, and who demonstrates some gymnastic capability (the capability to perform a muscle-up, vault, or handstand, for example) is fitter and more combat-ready than a soldier who exclusively runs 50 miles per week and performs some push-ups. From an athletic perspective, a worldclass decathlete (physically) is fitter and more combat-ready than a world-class triathlete. What are functional movements? The term functional movement is another example of frequently used exercise terminology lacking a common definition. According to W. Larry Kenney, Jack Wilmore, and David Costill, functional movements— Incorporate combinations of joints and muscle systems for execution. They do not isolate single muscle groups. Begin proximally and culminate distally, from core (transverse abdominis, erector spinae, and associated musculature) to extremity. Stave off decrepitude (because regular functional movement through full range of motion is therapeutic). Are safe and within the ability of healthy human beings, when all points of performance are observed. Are replicated naturally and come from everyday human experience.10 Not teaching and learning how to perform functional movements correctly is to the detriment of a soldier’s quality of life and ability to perform his or her job. Examples of functional movements include the squat (the equivalent of standing from seated position), dead lift (the equivalent of picking up an object from the ground), and press (the equivalent of taking an object from shoulder level and placing it or handing it overhead). Sporting experience teaches that when correct points of safety performance are observed and • • • • • 18 trained, it is possible to move large loads quickly while staying injury free. We do soldiers an injustice (fail to empower them) by not teaching them correct execution of these fundamental human operations. What is the best method for training soldiers for the rigors of combat? Research has shown conclusively that desired physical adaptation is elicited to a higher degree through PRT that combines modalities (e.g., strength and endurance training combined rather than just strength or just endurance training).11 Moreover, in a 2012 study, Heinrich et al. reported that an active duty population responded more favorably to a program consisting of functional movements executed with a high degree of intensity compared to a sample conducting traditional training.12 Statistically significant favorable adaptation relative to the traditional group included increased APFT push-up performance, decreased APFT two-mile run time, increased one-repetition maximum bench press, and increased flexibility. Recommendations We therefore propose the following general guideline, consistent with Glassman: training that includes a wide variety of functional movements performed at a high degree of intensity across broad time and modal domains is the most effective way to increase a person’s capacity to generate power.13 Specific recommendations for improving Army PRT protocols are— Adopt the Functional Movement Systems screening tools. Empower master fitness trainers. Keep PRT in its current format for basic combat training. Develop additional Army publications that concisely discuss practical application of the principles in FM 7-22. Revise the APFT. Adopt the Functional Movement Systems screening tools at the unit level. One of the primary arguments against implementing the type of training we advocate here is based on concerns about high rates of musculoskeletal injuries. In general, however, many injuries can be avoided by ensuring soldiers use pro W