Physical Training for Load Bearing

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Most regular home exercise programs and weekly NSW training programs are not adequate for the physical demands of moderate to heavy load-bearing. This section is designed to provide you with an appreciation of the physical demands of load-bearing and an approach to initiating load training.

Elements of a Load-Bearing Conditioning Program

The key elements for conditioning for load-bearing incorporate strength, speed and endurance training while relying on the principle of specificity of training (see Chapter 1: Overview of Physical Fitness). These arc as follows:

♦ Load-bearing progressive marches: Specificity of training is one of the basic training principles. To become better or more skilled at a particular event, the event must be practiced. To be able to carry heavier loads for longer periods of Lime, loads must be carried in training.

♦ Resistance strength training: Load-bearing requires strength. Strength training will help improve load-bearing ability and performance.

Aerobic training: Aerobic capacity is very important with respect to load-bearing. Individuals with the highest maximal oxygen consumption are better able to tolerate the physical demand of moderate to heavy load-bearing and walk at a faster pace for longer durations with less fatigue than individuals with a lower aerobic capacity.

♦ Anaerobic training: Anaerobic power and muscular strength are needed for high intensity combat activities. Different muscle groups are used depending on the type of load-bearing tasks, whether it is a fast paced, short hump or a slower paced, long hump.

Strength training or endurance running alone will not improve load-bearing ability.

The best training for load-bearing is cross country marches with a pack.

Initiating Load Training

Basic guidelines should be followed when beginning heavy load-bearing training.

♦ Start with loads 20% of your body weight and short distances (5 miles) once per week at the beginning.

♦ Progressively increase pack weight for each training session after two weeks: Loads should be increased to 25%, 30%, and 40% of body weight or greater (depending on the mission requirements).

♦ After achieving pack weight of 40% of weight, progressively increase distance: 7.5, 8, 9, 10, to at least 12.5 miles. Maintain distance for at least one month.

Maintaining Load-Bearing Fitness

To maintain fitness for humping a load equivalent to 40% of body weight for 10 miles would require at least:

♦ Upper and lower body weight training two days per week.

♦ Running three to four days per week for 30 minutes per session.

♦ One hump at least every other week, preferably once per week.

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