Friday, April 6, 2012

Why Physical Fitness Research Is Important to the Marine Corps

There is an endless supply of workout programs. A quick Google search will find bulk up workouts, endurance workouts, boot camp workout, etc. Which of these is most beneficial to Marines? It can be argued that each of these programs have some usefulness to Marines. However which one would be the best at preparing Marines for deployment to a combat zone?

Numerous research articles have been written (see the end of this post for a few sources) on this topic. However few if any have used a large active duty population for their sample population. None of these studies follow Marines over an extended period of time such as 3 or 4 years.

A long term randomized control study needs to be done with Marines. This would provide the Marine Corps with the most current data which could be used to determine the most effective combat conditioning program. This program could increase combat performance and decrease musculoskeletal injuries. Increasing combat performance and decreasing musculoskeletal injuries would save the Marine Corps time, money, and effort. The Marine Corps would have less medical separation due to injuries sustained while training and less individuals would be discharged for being overweight. 

     Harman, E, et al. Effects of Two Different Eight-Week Training Programs on Military Physical Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2008. 22(2) 524-534

Swain, D, et al. Effect of Training with and without a Load on Military Fitness Test and Marksmanship. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25 (2011). 1857-1865

Kraemer, W. et al. Effects of Concurrent Resistance and Aerobic Training on Load-Bearing Perform
ance and the Army Physical Fitness Test. Journal of Military Medicine. 169 (2004):994 – 999


  1. I think you bring up some outstanding thoughts on this for future study.

    Another study I would be interested in is the tens of thousands of dollars Marines spend on nutritional enhancements/supplements found in powders and shakes.

    I think there may be significant long-term health concerns on their usages while in garrison, and more importantly, during deployment.

    While deployed to two remote combat outposts for seven months each, it was not unheard of to see complete sections of the mobile PX truck filled with "body building nutritional enhancements/supplements" for our Marines and Sailors. From my professional background (Masters degree in Sports and Human Performance), if Marines/Sailors are eating good food, they shouldn't need these products that they expel out of their bodies several times per day. This said, without utilizing enough water, they aide in the process of dehydration...a DEADLY process we Commanders know about all too often in the form of heat casualties.

  2. Thanks for the post. I strongly agree this type of research needs to be done. I am a sergeant in the reserves and I am working towards a PhD in biochemistry. Currently I do research with returning combat veterans. It's often sad to see the fads that I encounter in the Corps. If one person says supplement XYZ improves their run time then half the platoon starts taking it on top of whatever else they are taking. These products are not regulated by the FDA and the research associated with these products is usually industry sponsored.

    Dehydration is important. I've known Marines to become dehydrated from taking these types of supplements and they don't realize it's the supplements causing this. More research needs to be done in these areas.
    If you are interested in research let me know and I'll give you my email address.

  3. Fitness program can be fun if you love what you are doing. It's not just about losing weight and being in good shape, but what is important is to be healthy and fit.

  4. To achieve a training effect, you must exercise often. You should exercise each of the first four fitness components at least three times a week. Infrequent exercise can do more harm than good. Regularity is also important in resting, sleeping, and following a sensible diet.

  5. Physical training for the military needs to be centered around combat. The job of the Marine Corps is to fight and win wars. All physical training needs to be geared toward that. Marines need to train with the gear they will use in combat. They need well rounded programs that train muscular strength as well as speed and endurance.

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