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How Strong Must Female Army Officers Be? (New Research)

Back in 2016 David Cameron lifted the ban on women in ‘ground close combat’ roles and said that other gender specific roles would soon be phased out and open to all.

In 2018, the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson announced that women will be allowed to apply for all military roles in the British armed forces, including frontline infantry, royal marines & SAS. The Ministry of Defence described the move as “historic”.

Concerns were however raised as to whether females could potentially sustain more injuries than males due to the difference in pelvic regions and the weight that certain military roles need to be able to lift and carry.

army

Weight of Responsibility

Three of the main fighting units (Infantry, tanks, helicopters) were asked what some of their biggest/heaviest tasks may be? Examples included:

  • Having to march many miles with heavy kits
  • The need to extract casualties from a tank
  • Carrying wounded soldiers from the ground

The average person weighs around 75kg. Add to this roughly 25kg of PPE, plus any water, food, ammo, weapons etc. and it's not inconceivable that these individuals will be required to lift upwards of 110kg. Testing therefore became essential.

The parliament appointed Chichester University to put together an independent study using an Isometric Mid-Thigh Pull Test (IMTP). This is one of three tests used in the physical entry standards to get into the army.

It involves standing in front of a bar set to mid-thigh height. The candidate is asked to pull the bar upwards for 5 seconds, before resting and repeating. Their best score out of the two attempts is then recorded.

thighpull

Testing

These tests were originally measured using PASCO force plates that give a reading in newtons; however sending 2 force plates, wires, the pull bars, and a laptop with software to convert to kilograms to an army base with multiple users, was neither practical nor robust.

Chichester University therefore contacted Solent Scales to look for a stand-on scale and an indicator with “Peak Hold” enabled, in order to to print out a live reading.

We duly offered a VW Platform scale with a Cardinal 190 Indicator, allowing them to carry out this important study.

It worked so well that they recommended us to Absolute Performance and Technogym, who have supplied fitness equipment to all uniformed services since 1996.

You can view the Chichester University study here.

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