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Regular strength training and baseline fitness in overweight infantry members of Slovenian Armed Forces
  1. Miha Vodičar1,
  2. B Kovčan2,
  3. P Pori3,
  4. J Vodičar4,
  5. J Šimenko5,
  6. D Karpljuk3,
  7. G Marković6 and
  8. V Hadžić3
  1. 1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University Medical Center Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  2. 2 Sports Unit, Slovenian Armed Forces, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  3. 3 Department of Sports & Medicine, University of Ljubljana Faculty of Sport, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  4. 4 Institute of Sport, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Sport, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  5. 5 Essex Pathways Department, University of Essex, Colchester, Essex, UK
  6. 6 Department of Kinesiology of Sport, University of Zagreb Faculty of Kinesiology, Zagreb, Croatia
  1. Correspondence to V Hadžić, Sports & Medicine, University of Ljubljana Faculty of Sport, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia; vedran.hadzic{at}


Introduction The prevalence of overweight subjects in military cohorts increases despite the obligatory army physical fitness test (APFT) requirements and the negative consequences of possible test failure due to the increased body mass index (BMI). Studies that have examined the association of BMI with baseline fitness in the military are showing conflicting evidence. The primary aim of the study is to examine BMI effects on baseline fitness that was measured by APFT and additional functional performance tests (FT) (vertical countermovement jump with and without load, loaded prone plank, single-leg hamstring bridge test and pull-ups). Our secondary goal is to explore if regular strength training modifies the BMI effect on baseline fitness.

Methods A cross-sectional study on a sample of 118 male infantry soldiers that have performed APFT and FT was carried out. Body mass and body height measurements were used to calculate BMI, and to categorise participants into BMI ranks. Two independent categorical variables (BMI rank and strength training) were used to evaluate their influence on dependent variables of physical performance acquired from APFT and FT.

Results A significantly large size effect of BMI rank (F=1.69, p=0.037; effect size (ES)=0.15) and regular strength training (F=2.66, p=0.006; ES=0.21) on physical performance was found. It was shown that strength training had a medium ES on push-up and pull-up performance, as well as on the overall APFT score and loaded plank.

Conclusions The importance of regular strength training and normal BMI for better overall baseline fitness in infantry members was highlighted. Most importantly, it was shown that performance is not affected in overweight soldiers who are performing regular strength training in addition to their daily physical training.

Trial registration number NCT03415464

  • rehabilitation medicine
  • sports medicine
  • occupational & industrial medicine

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. We will share all individual deidentified participant data (including data dictionaries) for all potential purposes. Request should be addressed to corresponding author.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. We will share all individual deidentified participant data (including data dictionaries) for all potential purposes. Request should be addressed to corresponding author.

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  • Contributors MV, BK, JV and VH conceived and planned the experiments. BK, PP, JS carried out the testing. VH, DK and GM contributed to sample preparation and data interpretation. VH took the lead in writing the manuscript. All authors provided critical feedback and helped shape the research, analysis and manuscript.

  • Funding The study was supported by Slovenian Research Agency through a project P5-0147.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Slovenian Armed Forces, the Department of Defense of the Republic of Slovenia or the Slovenian Government.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.