• NSCA Blue Ribbon Panel on Military Physical Readiness: Military Physical Performance Testing
    The NSCA’s TSAC program sponsored and hosted the 2nd Blue Ribbon Panel on Military Physical Readiness: Military Physical Performance Testing to continue its mission of providing state-of-the-art physical training and education, and to expand and deliver this information to those who serve and protect our country and communities.
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  • Cover of the Tactical Strength and Conditioning Blue Ribbon Panel on Military FitnessForeword
    The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) was founded in 1978 by 76 strength coaches from across the country with the common desire to network, collaborate, and unify the profession of strength and conditioning.

    Since its inception, the NSCA has grown to nearly 33,000 Members in 72 countries, and become the leader in the research and education of strength and conditioning professionals.

    As the worldwide authority on strength and conditioning, the NSCA supports and disseminates research-based knowledge and its practical application to improve athletic performance and fitness.

    Download the PDF

    In 2005, the NSCA founded the Tactical Strength and Conditioning (TSAC) program by working with elite military and law enforcement groups. The TSAC program quickly expanded to include all members of military, law enforcement, and fire & rescue personnel.

    The mission of the NSCA’s TSAC program is to provide scientifically sound and safe physical training and educational programs to those who serve and protect our country and communities.

    In support of its mission, the NSCA’s TSAC program sponsored and hosted the 2nd Blue Ribbon Panel on Military Physical Readiness: Military Physical Performance Testing immediately following the NSCA’s 4th annual TSAC Conference on April 18–19, 2013 in Norfolk, VA.

    The 2nd Blue Ribbon Panel was convened to continue the TSAC program’s commitment to its mission of providing state-of-the-art physical training and education, and to expand and deliver this information to those who serve and protect our country and communities. 
     
    Executive Summary
    This meeting brought together a total of 20 subject matter experts (SMEs) from the U.S. Air Force Army, Marine Corps, Navy and academia representing practitioners, operators, researchers, and policy advisors to discuss the current state of physical performance testing across the Armed Services. 

    The SME panel initially rated common military tasks (refer to Table 1 in the PDF) by the degree to which health-related fitness components (e.g., aerobic fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition) and skill-related fitness components (e.g., muscular power, agility, balance, coordination, speed, and reaction time) were required to accomplish these tasks. Muscular strength, power, and endurance received the highest rating scores.

    The Blue Ribbon Panel then broke into SME groups to establish a list of field-expedient tests (refer to Table 2 in the PDF) that could be considered for military physical performance testing for later voting by the entire panel. Table 2 lists the field-expedient tests that received the most votes by the panel.

    Panel discussion centered on whether the services should have a common criteria health-based fitness test (82% of panel members concurred) and whether services should consider a Tier II test focused on both health-related and skill-related fitness components based upon occupational, functional, and tactical military performance requirements (95% of panel members concurred). 

    It was noted that the Marine Corps currently has a combat-oriented, functional fitness test; however, none of the services currently have an occupationally specific physical fitness assessment. The Army and Air Force have study initiatives considering Tier II fitness tests. Subsequently, the panel discussed the need to consider whether Department of Defense Instruction 1308.3 (DOD Physical Fitness and Body Fat Programs Procedures) should be revised to consider inclusion of Tier II tests to assess functional and skill-related fitness components related to occupational tasks. 

    Conclusions
    1. Selected fitness components are currently not being assessed by the military. 
    2. Field-expedient options to measure both health-based and skill-based fitness components are available. 
    3. Branches of the military may want to consider having common fitness-based tests. Concern for historical perspective and appropriate health-based criterion reference standards should be given to alter military physical performance testing if needed.  
    4. It seems prudent for each branch of the military to design an occupational, functional, and tactical military performance test for inclusion as part of a fitness testing battery.    
    Recommendations 
    1. The Panel will organize a writing group to publish a peer-reviewed manuscript based on the panel findings and proceedings. 
    2. The findings and recommendations from the panel should be briefed to the DoDI owners, Office of the Secretary of Defense/Personnel & Readiness/Morale, Welfare and Recreation Policy Division for consideration to revising DODI 1308.3 DOD Physical Fitness and Body Fat Programs Procedures.     
  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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