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Changes in physical performance during British Army Junior Entry, British Army Standard Entry and Royal Air Force Basic Training
  1. C A Rue1,
  2. S D Myers1,
  3. S L Coakley1,2,
  4. K M Ashdown1,
  5. B J Lee1,3,
  6. B J Hale1,
  7. A G Siddall1,
  8. S C Needham-Beck1,
  9. K L Hinde1,
  10. J I Osofa1,4,
  11. F S Walker1,
  12. A Fieldhouse5,
  13. C A J Vine1,
  14. J Doherty1,
  15. T R Flood1,
  16. E F Walker1,
  17. S Wardle6,7,
  18. J P Greeves8,9 and
  19. S D Blacker1
  1. 1Institute of Sport, Nursing and Allied Health, University of Chichester, Chichester, UK
  2. 2Faculty of Sport, Allied Health and Performance Sciences, St Mary's University, Twickenham, UK
  3. 3Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University, Coventry, UK
  4. 4School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK
  5. 5Defence Public Health Unit | HQ Defence Medical Services, Ministry of Defence, London, UK
  6. 6Army Personnel Research Capability, British Army Land Forces Headquarters, Andover, UK
  7. 7Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, Department of Targeted Intervention, University College London, London, UK
  8. 8Department of Army Health and Physical Performance Research, UK Ministry of Defence, Andover, UK
  9. 9Department of Targeted Intervention, University College London Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr C A Rue, Institute of Sport, Nursing and Allied Health, University of Chichester, Chichester, PO19 6PE, UK; c.rue{at}


Introduction The purpose was to quantify physical performance in men and women during British Army Junior Entry (Army-JE), British Army Standard Entry (Army-SE) and Royal Air Force (RAF) basic training (BT).

Design Prospective longitudinal study.

Methods 381 participants ((339 men and 42 women) n=141 Army-JE, n=132 Army-SE, n=108 RAF) completed a 2 km run, medicine ball throw (MBT) and isometric mid-thigh pull (MTP), pre-BT and post-BT. To examine changes in pre-BT to post-BT physical test performance, for each course, paired Student t-test and Wilcoxon test were applied to normally and non-normally distributed data, respectively, with effect sizes reported as Cohen’s D and with rank biserial correlations, respectively. A one-way between-subjects analysis of variance (ANOVA) (or Welch ANOVA for non-normally distributed data) compared performance between quartiles based on test performance pre-BT. Where the main tests statistic, p value and effect sizes identified likely effect of quartile, post hoc comparisons were made using Games-Howell tests with Tukey’s p value. Data are presented as mean±SD, with statistical significance set at p<0.05.

Results During BT, 2 km run time improved by 13±46 s (−2.1%±8.1%), 30±64 s (−4.8%±12.3%) and 24±27 s (−4.5%±5.1%) for Army-JE, Army-SE and RAF, respectively (all p<0.005). MBT distance increased by 0.27±0.28 m (6.8%±7.0%) for Army-JE (p<0.001) and 0.07±0.46 m (2.3%±10.9%) for Army-SE (p=0.040), but decreased by 0.08±0.27 m (−1.4%±6.0%) for RAF (p=0.002). MTP force increased by 80±281 n (10.8%±27.6%) for Army-JE (p<0.001) and did not change for Army-SE (−36±295 n, −0.7%±20.6%, p=0.144) or RAF (−9±208 n, 1.0±17.0, p=0.603). For all tests and cohorts, participants in the lowest quartile of pre-BT performance scores demonstrated greater improvements, compared with participants in the highest quartile (except Army-JE MBT, ∆% change similar between all quartiles).

Conclusions Changes in physical performance were observed for the three fitness tests following the different BT courses, and recruits with the lowest strength and aerobic fitness experienced greatest improvements.

  • Physiology

Data availability statement

No data are available.

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Data availability statement

No data are available.

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  • Contributors CAR is the guarantor and was a major contributor in writing the manuscript. CAR, BJH, SLC and KMA analysed and interpreted the data. BJL, AGS, SCN-B, KLH, JIO, FSW, CAJV, JD, TRF and EFW collected and input the data. SDM, SDB, SLW, JPG and AF supervised the preparation, conduction and evaluation of the study.

  • Funding This study was funded by The Defence Human Capability Science & Technology Centre (TIN 3.179).

  • Competing interests None declared.

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