The faculty uses its muscle science for ROTC

Cadet Samuel Myers put his fitness skills to the test on ROTC Day in February in collaboration with the Faculty of Exercise Science to improve the workouts of the competitive Grand Canyon University Army ROTC Ranger Challenge Team.

Work Sweeten-Shults story
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Office

Chief Troy Merkle the change was felt this spring when the Grand Canyon University Ranger Challenge Team dominated the tactical fitness competition between ROTC cadets in several university armies.

Chief Troy Merkle

“The GCU team won by a wide margin,” said Merkle, an officer in the GCU Army Reserve Officers Training Group and an assistant professor of military science.

“GCU went there and crushed other teams,” Associate Professor of Exercise Science said Anthony Acevedo he said. “So there’s a new buzz from GCU.”

This change began when the Army changed its appearance on the physical condition, when it opened the fourth part of the Army Combat Fitness Test. Soldiers must perform the assessment several times a year. The six-event test includes a three-lap deadlift, a standing shot, a hands-free push-up, a sprint-drag-carry, a board and a 2-mile race to be completed in 70 minutes or less.

“It’s proven to be absolutely tiring,” Merkle said. “It’s a lot harder than the previous fitness test, and it’s been an adaptation for all the full strength.”

So Merkle contacted the GCU’s Department of Exercise Science last fall to see if the faculty could help the program’s cadets achieve their fitness goals – with about 90 cadets enrolled each year, making it the second-largest program for state Army officers, after Arizona State. University. After all, ROTC leaders want cadets to pass that fitness test, and they need to do that in order to be commissioned as an Army officer.

“They were absolutely good at trying to help build this,” Merkle said.

Acevedo (right) has worked with Myers (left) and other ROTC cadets to help them achieve their fitness goals.

And that’s where Acevedo came in.

He started studying GCU cadets to measure their fitness and is developing a fitness program based on those numbers.

Acevedo evaluated 56 cadets by taking measurements at the beginning and end of the 2021-22 school year at the BodPod in the Exercise Science Lab, which measures body composition (the amount of body fat and fat-free mass of the subject). The cadets also performed a VO2 max test, or test for maximum oxygen consumption, as the best indicator of a subject’s cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance.

He participated in nutrition assessments and helped develop two summer programs, one for regular training cadets and the other for elite cadets – those who train for Ranger Challenge competitions – so as not to lose the profits they earned during the summer season. .

Acevedo also met with ROTC team leaders to educate them individually, as they will be the ones to establish the training regime developed by the faculty and lead them to the cadets.

As a result, Merkle said the failure of the prestigious Army fitness test has dropped by more than 50% from 11 to four, and the Faculty of Exercise Science is also helping cadets meet Army body composition standards.

He shared the story of a cadet before transferring a former football attacking player to the GCU, who is physically fit and can generally pass the test but had trouble meeting body composition standards.

Merkle said: “Mr. Acevedo has taken a keen interest in helping some of these cadets. They have a lot of work to do.

The impetus for the Exercise Science-ROTC partnership was to help cadets prepare for the Army Combat Fitness Test, which they must pass before being commissioned as officers.

“If I say to a 19-year-old,‘ Go and lose weight ’, they probably won’t do it in a healthy way, and they’ll get to a certain plain because they’re watching. taking their carbs, things like that. Mr. Acevedo is a licensed nutritionist. Break more and tell these kids, “This is what you’re going to eat, and this is what you’re going to eat.” That’s how much water you can use. ” They can do that according to science, by helping each individual how much they weigh, what their goal is, and how to do it in a really healthy way. “

After working with Acevedo, the former insults reduced her body fat by 8% by 2 and a half.

Exercise Science has also worked with RCC cadets from the GCU competing in the Ranger Challenge, where teams from various universities across the nation participate in events such as patrol, aiming, weapon assembly and a 10-mile road march.

Cadet Samuel MyersGCU Ranger Challenge Team Officer and his platoon sergeant, Jaden Norris, Met with Acevedo to analyze the physical assessment data that showed deficiencies in the peloton. Acevedo helped them improve the training that Myers and Norris put together for the team – concepts that will be extended to the rest of the GCU Army ROTC program.

“It gave us the idea to do Metcons, which are focused on the types of conditioned metabolic workouts, more than one muscle group, to train the energy system and use them to our advantage,” Myers said.

After working with Acevedo, the team saw an average increase of 12 points on the Army Combat Fitness Test scale of 3.0, the previous version of the new version 4.0 of the test.

“The 12-point increase is a very good increase,” Myers said.

Growing up playing football and wrestling, he became acquainted with some of the sciences behind physical fitness, and began to bring these concepts to the GCU’s Ranger Challenge program.

Acevedo (left) is developing a certification course for tactical athletes for cadets.

“But my main one is not exercise science,” said Myers, who is studying sociology and plans to branch out with infantry. Being an expert in exercise science “has been a big deal. That helped us a lot. ”

Cadet Megan Richards, one of the leading exercise sciences, has been instrumental in building communication between Exercise Science and ROTC and building the relationship between the two programs. The Faculty of Exercise Sciences, he said, has not only taught the physiology of ROTC cadet leaders, but also opened the door to research opportunities and teacher tutoring.

“Some students come to ROTC with no physical training experience and have to change their lifestyle. My teachers have been eager to stay after class to help answer questions or help create training plans for my classmates, ”he said.

The Department of Exercise Science also supports the collaboration. The faculty is using data it collects for academic research, such as analyzing the results of lactic acid threshold tests and trying to predict how an athlete would physically perform based on those tests.

The new collaboration between Exercise Science and ROTC in the first year involved, in particular, the collection and analysis of data and the assessment of the cadet level of the University cadets, which will be intensified this autumn.

Dr. Zachary Zeigler (left) will use the data collected by the Faculty of Exercise Science for academic research studies. (Photo from file)

When Merkle approached Acevedora and Dr. Zachary ZeiglerLeading the Exercise Science program, the idea was not just to help the cadets prepare for the Army Combat Fitness Test or to help the Ranger Challenge Team prepare for the competition. It was also about creating a tactical certification course for athletes.

“The next step is to have a course that will help us build Mr. Acevedo and his team, one that teaches nutrition, one that teaches proper lifting techniques, one that teaches the basics of building these workouts. We will do that as we return to campus,” Merkle said.

The program will be a hybrid of fitness videos and personalized assessments, Acevedo said.

The goal is to train cadets, who will become Army officers upon graduation, to be better leaders in terms of fitness.

“We are using science to advance their training,” Acevedo said of the Exercise Science-ROTC partnership. “It’s fun to put them behind this science and use all that data to improve their cadets.”

The work can be attended by GCU senior writer Sweeten-Shults [email protected] or by calling 602-639-7901.

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