Training for flight in dynamic and high-acceleration aircraft requires both good cardiovascular health and anaerobic capabilities; part of well-rounded fitness! Have you heard the myth that all fighter pilots are short, stocky, and need high blood pressure? Not true, you too can develop good G-tolerance! Regular cardiovascular conditioning paired with strength-training programs will properly prepare you for flight under Gs. A strong lower body helps push blood upwards where you need it, in your heart and brain. Being aerobically fit gives you the endurance to keep pushing and not fatigue as quickly while doing the Anti-G Straining Maneuver (AGSM). AGSM is a two-component maneuver pilots perform under g-loads that involves breathing and muscle contractions to increase your blood pressure and maintain blood flow to your brain.
Here are a few workout strategies you can use to improve your G-tolerance.
Prior to starting a G-Tolerance Improvement Program (G-TIP), assess your current level of muscular strength (with a partner for safety) using the 1-repetition maximum (1RM) test to help determine the amount of weight you should be working with. This is the most accurate test to assess maximal strength.
Stay balanced! Don’t focus too much on just strength or just aerobic training. You need both. Focus on leg and abdominal strength for a strong AGSM. Do at least 20–30 minutes of cardio 3–4 times a week to ensure you don’t fatigue while under Gs or when performing your AGSM. A good AGSM is the most important tool to combat g-forces. The best way to improve this maneuver is to practice this maneuver. The energy and strength to maintain a good AGSM involves regular strength and cardio training.
Improving your muscular strength requires a specific type of training—the use of heavier weights and fewer repetitions than for endurance training. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends following FITT guidelines for strength training.
Circuit training is a type of training aimed at keeping heart rates elevated while doing short bouts of resistance exercises and battling boredom. Circuit training is typically a combination of cardio and resistance training combined in one quick(er), efficient workout. You get the benefits of cardio exercise such as a decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol levels PLUS the benefits of strength training. This type of training consists of a series of different exercises performed one after the other, sometimes with short rest periods in between.