Physiological variables and performance markers of serving soldiers from two "elite" units of the British Army

J Sports Sci. 2006 Jun;24(6):597-604. doi: 10.1080/02640410500230811.


The aim of this study was to compare selected physiological variables and performance markers of soldiers from two "elite" units of the British Army. Ten soldiers from each of the two units were recruited for this study (n = 20). All participants completed three tests while carrying a 20 kg backpack load: (1) a maximal treadmill test using the Bruce protocol; (2) a 2 mile backpack run test specific to Unit A on a consistently flat tarmac road; and (3) a 29 km time-trial over hilly terrain typical of a mountainous area used by Unit B for performance assessment. Heart rate, maximal blood lactate concentration and performance (run time) were assessed during all three tests, with peak oxygen uptake also being measured during the maximal treadmill test. Measurements of anthropometry, isokinetic strength and mental toughness (MT48) were also recorded. There were no significant differences in terms of performance markers between the units (P > 0.05). Performance on the maximal treadmill test correlated with performance on the 2 mile backpack run test (r = -0.57) and 29 km time-trial (r = -0.66). Performance on the 2 mile backpack run test in turn correlated with 29 km time-trial performance (r = -0.77), accounting for 59% of the variance. In conclusion, the maximal treadmill test and the 2 mile backpack run test are useful indicators of performance on the arduous hill march and could be employed in the screening and selection of potential recruits.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Character
  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Medicine*
  • Military Personnel* / psychology
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom