Quantifying the relationship between anthropometry, body composition, and performance on the army combat fitness test
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Anthropometric and body composition parameters have been shown to relate to performance outcomes in a variety of active populations. However, limited data exists relating these parameters in a military context. Such applications are particularly relevant, as the US Army recently implemented a new physical fitness test known as the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). Thus, the purpose of this investigation was to examine the relationship between anthropometric measurements, body composition, and ACFT performance in ROTC cadets and National Guard members. A secondary purpose of this investigation was to examine the validity and reliability of novel 3-dimensional optical imaging devices to assess body fat percentage in military-aged individuals. Following a 24-hour abstention from exercise and an eight-hour food and fluid fast, 106 eligible participants completed a single testing visit. These participants included members of the general public, Army ROTC cadets, and active-duty Soldiers. Military members provided their most recent ACFT fitness testing results to the researchers. Anthropometric and body composition outcomes including body mass, height, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), air displacement plethysmography (ADP), and bioelectrical impedance spectroscopy (BIS) were assessed in a cross-sectional manner. Results from these measurements were used to produce a 4-component (4C) model of body composition estimation, which has been suggested as a suitable reference model for validity metrics. Manual circumference measurements and 3-dimensional optical imaging tests were also completed. Body composition and anthropometric data were regressed against fitness testing performance in military members, and the strength of these relationships was quantified via Pearson correlations. Validity and reliability of BF% estimates from select 3DO devices were quantified using data from the entire sample. As hypothesized, several anthropometric and body composition parameters were identified as relevant predictors of ACFT performance. Average forearm circumference, neck circumference, average calf circumference, and fat mass were found to relate to performance in the 3-repetition maximum deadlift (MDL) event, fat-free mass index (FFMI) was identified as a relevant predictor for standing power throw (SPT) performance, and fat mass along with FFMI and neck circumference were found to predict hand-release pushup (HRP) repetitions completed by the Soldiers and cadets. Fat mass index was also identified as a negative correlate of leg tuck (LTK) performance. Sex was identified as a relevant predictor for MDL, HRP, LTK, the sprint-drag-carry event, and the two-mile run. Pearson correlations characterized the strength of these relationships, which varied from weak to strong. Results of the validity and reliability analyses conducted as part of this investigation suggest that several novel 3-D optical scanning technologies have merit as alternate means to assess BF% in military-relevant populations. In conclusion, it appears that anthropometric and body composition parameters may be relevant for ACFT performance prediction.Embargo status: Restricted until 09/2172. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.