Technique Matters: Sustaining G-Forces
While the exact mechanism associated with improved G-tolerance remains unknown, fighter pilots are broadly prescribed strength training as a short-term tool to improve gravito-inertial loading sustained during combat flight. Research conducted by Roger Kolegard and Igor Mekjavic suggests that various training modalities may alter the exercise pressor response, playing a role in maintaining adequate arterial pressure under G-forces.
The arterial pressor responses of three groups of males were studied over six-months. Each group underwent a different training program (strength training/endurance training/rest). The pressor responses of the individuals were measured before and after the six-month program by performing various isometric contractions at an RPE of 5/10. Arterial pressure was highest in those individuals that participated in strength training. The mean relaxed gradual onset rate (no Anti-G Straining Maneuver performed/Gs slowly increased) G-tolerance was unaffected by a fitness program.
This study measured relaxed gradual onset rate G-tolerance and determined that physical fitness or strength had no effect on a pilot’s resting G-tolerance. This emphasizes the importance of conducting the Anti-G Straining Maneuver in-flight, as without it, the pilot will ultimately be unprotected/highly vulnerable to GLOC. Strength training did increase arterial pressure, which led to a more effective (faster response/higher upward pressure/stronger muscular contraction) Anti-G Straining Maneuver in the cockpit and ultimately increased tolerance against sustained G-forces.
Finding ways to rehearse the proper AGSM mechanics on the ground is a must. Our team recommends incorporating barbell isometric squat holds paired with positive pressure breathing into your next leg day.
Relevant material: Effects of Physical Fitness on Relaxed G-Tolerance and the Exercise Pressor Response by Roger Kolegard and Igor Mekjavic.