Home' Army News : August 10th 2017 Contents 1300 738601
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August 10, 2017
WO2 Andrew Hetherington
A NEW battalion CO and a PTI at
Gallipoli Barracks have joined forces,
creating a new gym and increasing the
fitness of the unit’s soldiers.
Earlier this year, CO 8/9RAR Lt-Col
Tony Bennett and 1CHB PTI Sgt Jim
Wright shared an idea on how soldiers
could train smarter during PT sessions.
OPSO 8/9RAR Maj Brent Hughes
said Lt-Col Bennett wanted to make PT
more beneficial for his soldiers.
“The CO said he wanted them to train
smarter, not just harder,” Maj Hughes
“In the past we’ve always focused on
PT like slow, long-distance running or
just training hard physically.
“He wanted to link the soldiers PT
into Army’s new focus on mental and
At the same time Sgt Wright was vis-
iting units in the area pitching his idea of
how PT could be smarter.
“My colleague Cpl Tavis Nicholson
and I have a passion for this type of
training and conducted a high perfor-
mance analysis on local units, noticing
they were lacking in a few areas of their
PT programs,” Sgt Wright said.
“We decided to create a more
structured and periodised program to
improve soldiers’ high performance
“We then went around to local units
and asked them if they wanted to get
on board to trial a high performance PT
8/9RAR accepted the challenge and
Sgt Wright and Cpl Nicholson then
set out to create a 16-week program –
the Soldier Optimisation Conditioning
The trial used two groups; a 30-per-
son group to follow the program, meas-
ured against a second, 20-person control
group conducting normal PT.
Thanks to funding from 7 Bde,
8/9RAR purchased the equipment for the
trial and future use, creating the unit’s
own gym, housed in an existing building
at their barracks.
“The trial group, consisting of sol-
diers from 8/9RAR headquarters and A
Coy, began the first phase, which was
a strength and conditioning program,”
Sgt Wright said. “This phase introduced
them to the equipment and exercises they
would use and follow, they completed
baseline testing and their body composi-
tion was analysed to see where their fit-
ness levels were.”
As part of phase one the soldiers
completed three sessions of PT a week,
and during both trial phases they indi-
vidually tracked their own workouts and
“Soldiers were issued fitness watches
with heart rate monitors, so they could
track and record their workouts and pro-
gress using the app on their phones, as
well as writing their results on a board
on the gym,” Sgt Wright said.
“Phase two was an eight-week, five
session a week program and was tailored
to be a more holistic form of training.
“Phase two examined their whole
body measurements, their BMI, com-
pleted cardiovascular assessment tests
which included a battle stress simulation
assessment and maximal aerobic speed
training to measure if they increased
their running speed.”
At the end of phase two Sgt Wright
said the structured program improved all
of the candidate’s fitness levels.
“They all consistently improved their
fitness in the areas of speed, power,
agility and their aerobic and anaerobic
endurance,” he said.
“Whereas the control group, who
completed regular PT, who did the same
tests as the trial group, we found they
had only ad hoc fitness improvements,
where some of the subjects improved,
stayed at the same level or dipped lower.”
One of the trial participants was rifle-
man Pte James Healy from A Coy.
Pte Healy said he liked the structure
and variety of the trial.
“I liked how I could use my initial
results from the beginning to measure
what I had achieved throughout the
trial,” Pte Healy said.
“I also liked how there were recovery
sessions, preventing anyone in my pla-
toon from being injured.
“I maintained weight throughout
the trial, increased my strength, gained
muscle and improved my cardiovascular
endurance, too, knocking 50 seconds off
my 2.4km run in patrol order.”
New 8/9RAR program is getting results
Pte James Healy, of 8/9RAR, during the trial of the Soldier Optimisation Conditioning Program in the
unit’s new gym.
Photo: Chap Geoffrey Traill
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