Purpose: The effects of resistance training programs on strength, power, and military occupational task performances in women were examined.
Methods: Untrained women aged (mean +/- SD) 23 +/- 4 yr were matched and randomly placed in total- (TP, N = 17 and TH, N = 18) or upper-body resistance training (UP, N = 18 and UH, N = 15), field (FLD, N = 14), or aerobic training groups (AER, N = 11). Two periodized resistance training programs (with supplemental aerobic training) emphasized explosive exercise movements using 3- to 8-RM training loads (TP, UP), whereas the other two emphasized slower exercise movements using 8- to 12-RM loads (TH, UH). The FLD group performed plyometric and partner exercises. Subjects were tested for body composition, strength, power, endurance, maximal and repetitive box lift, 2-mile loaded run, and U.S. Army Physical Fitness Tests before (T0) and after 3 (T3) and 6 months of training (T6). For comparison, untrained men (N = 100) (MEN) were tested once.
Results: Specific training programs resulted in significant increases in body mass (TP), 1-RM squat (TP, TH, FLD), bench press (all except AER), high pull (TP), squat jump (TP, TH, FLD), bench throw (all except AER), squat endurance (all except AER), 1-RM box lift (all except aerobic), repetitive box lift (all), push-ups (all except AER), sit-ups (all except AER), and 2-mile run (all).
Conclusions: Strength training improved physical performances of women over 6 months and adaptations in strength, power, and endurance were specific to the subtle differences (e.g., exercise choice and speeds of exercise movement) in the resistance training programs (strength/power vs strength/hypertrophy). Upper- and total-body resistance training resulted in similar improvements in occupational task performances, especially in tasks that involved upper-body musculature. Finally, gender differences in physical performance measures were reduced after resistance training in women, which underscores the importance of such training for physically demanding occupations.