Two-star general visits CSU to learn more about fitness study

Barry Braun (left), health and exercise science professor and executive director of CSU’s Human Performance Clinical Research Lab, shows Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard (second from right) the kinetics lab, where researchers are attempting to understand why aging impacts one’s ability to move. Photo courtesy of Matt Tillman/CSU Army ROTC

The commanding general for the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training recently paid a visit to Colorado State University to get a firsthand look at the university’s pioneering study involving the Army Combat Fitness Test.

Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard, who oversees the Army’s annual process of transforming 130,000 civilian volunteers into soldiers, toured campus Nov. 5-6, meeting with leadership from CSU’s Army ROTC program and the Department of Health and Exercise Science to learn more about the most effective training plans for the proposed new Army Combat Fitness Test.

Army ROTC and Health and Exercise Science researchers offered the two-star general a deep dive into the study’s design and methodology, which compares and contrasts several different training regimens for the ACFT.

The pilot study, conducted in 2019 with 30 cadets, showed strong evidence that a full-body, hybrid training approach — aerobic and anaerobic training, weight-lifting, body-weight exercises, plyometrics and high-intensity intervals — is far more effective than the traditional training regimens that focus solely on muscular endurance and aerobic exercise.

CSU “is doing some great work with the new physical fitness test,” Hibbard said during his visit. “With a proper workout regimen focused on the fundamentals, any solider regardless of age or gender can hopefully accomplish this.”

Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard

CSU “is doing some great work with the new physical fitness test. With a proper workout regimen focused on the fundamentals, any solider regardless of age or gender can hopefully accomplish this.”

— Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard, U.S. Army

Next steps in study

AROTC seniors and juniors virtually discuss the Profession of Arms and gain insights from MG Hibbard. Photo courtesy of CSU Army ROTC

The Army is in the process of replacing its current Physical Fitness Test, which has measured the strength and endurance of its soldiers for more than 30 years.

The proposed new test would be a gender- and age-neutral assessment, consisting of six events: deadlifts, standing power throws, hand-release pushups, sprint-drag-carries, leg tucks and a two-mile run.

CSU was in the process of expanding the pilot study when COVID-19 happened, postponing a more robust examination of its findings.

However, researchers said the pilot study displayed positive outcomes for a hybrid training approach, which included improvements in ACFT scores (13% increase), VO2 Max (4.3 point increase), weight loss (2.4 kg decrease), and compliance of participants (96%).

Al Armonda, a CSU military science instructor who helped lead the pilot study, said they are hoping to conduct a larger study in Spring 2021.

“The overarching goal of our Spring 2021 study is to determine and establish for the nation the most effective cadet fitness protocol using both peer-based and self-paced environments,” he said.

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 Learn more about CSU’s pioneering new Army Combat Fitness Training Plan for the scholar-athlete-leader by visiting source.colostate.edu.