Introduction: This study objectively evaluates the effectiveness of a 6-week Preparatory Training Phase (PTP) programme prior to Basic Military Training (BMT) for less physically conditioned conscripts in the Singapore Armed Forces. Materials and Methods: We compared exercise test results of a group of less fi t recruits who underwent a 16-week modified-BMT (mBMT) programme (consisting of a 6-week PTP and 10-week BMT phase) with their ‘fitter’ counterparts enlisted in the traditional 10-week direct-intake BMT (dBMT) programme in this prospective cohort study consisting of 36 subjects. The main outcome measures included cardiopulmonary responses parameters ( O2 max and O2AT) with clinical exercise testing and distance run timings. Results: Although starting off at a lower baseline in terms of physical fitness [ O2 max 1.73 ± 0.27 L/min (mBMT group) vs 1.97 ± 0.43 L/min (dBMT), P = 0.032; O2AT 1.02 ± 0.19 vs 1.14 ± 0.32 L/min respectively, P = 0.147], the mBMT group had greater improvement in cardiopulmonary indices and physical performance profiles than the dBMT cohort as determined by cardiopulmonary exercise testing [ O2 max 2.34 ± 0.24 (mBMT) vs 2.36 ± 0.36 L/min (dBMT), P = 0.085; O2AT 1.22 ± 0.17 vs 1.21 ± 0.24 L/min respectively, P = 0.303] and 2.4 kilometres timed-run [mBMT group 816.1 sec (pre-BMT) vs 611.1 sec (post-BMT), dBMT group 703.8 sec vs 577.7 sec, respectively; overall P value 0.613] at the end of the training period. Initial mean difference in fitness between mBMT and dBMT groups on enlistment was negated upon graduation from BMT. Conclusion: Pre-enlistment fitness stratification with training modification in a progressive albeit longer BMT programme for less-conditioned conscripts appears efficacious when measured by resultant physical fitness.
Basic military training (BMT) is seen as a vital initiation phase into military service when new recruits are conditioned to the rigours of military training in terms of physical and combat fitness. This training period assumes a great significance in Singapore where all able-bodied males between the ages of 17 to 24 years are conscripted to serve more than 2 years of compulsory full-time National Service in the various services of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
This article is available only as a PDF. Please click on “Download PDF” to view the full article.