How to improve your physical performance as a field artilleryman

The artillery career field is one of the most physically demanding fields in the military. Field artillerymen must navigate unique job requirements that challenge almost all domains of physical performance—upper- and lower-body muscular strength, power, and endurance; anaerobic endurance; and aerobic endurance.

You can build an artillery-specific training plan by first identifying the common movements and physical demands of the job. In general, field artillery personnel are expected to lift and carry heavy weight over varied distances, emplace large weapons systems, quickly establish firing positions, and handle maintenance—and do so repeatedly. The table below gives examples of common artillery physical tasks and the physical domains they’re associated with:


Upper-and-lower-body muscular strength

Upper-and-lower-body power

Upper-and-lower-body muscular endurance

Anaerobic endurance

Aerobic endurance

Establish firing position  XXX
Emplace weapon system XXX 
Lift, carry, and load artillery rounds from truck to artillery weaponXXXX 
Prep and fire weapon system XXX 
Climb into and jump from vehicles X   


For example, the task of lifting, loading, and carrying an artillery round to an artillery weapon uses four out of five of the physical domains associated with the artilleryman job. Muscular strength and power are required to lift and load a heavy round quickly. Muscular endurance is needed to carry the rounds repeatedly and over varied distances, and anaerobic endurance is needed to do all of these tasks quickly and repeatedly.

Injury prevention for artillerymen

One important component of physical performance is incorporating injury prevention strategies into your training plan. Injuries can reduce a unit’s readiness, from minor injuries that can slow the performance of someone on a team, to a team member who becomes completely unable to perform their duties indefinitely. Injury prevention is an investment in improved performance in that it helps an individual or unit to function at full capacity. You can incorporate injury prevention into your training plan by including a dynamic warm-up, doing your exercises in the correct order, and progressing your training plan based on your current fitness level.

After identifying these needs, where do you start to improve your performance? There are many factors to consider when building a weekly training plan, including your current physical fitness level, how much time you have available, your daily job-related workload, and which phase of the periodization cycle you’re currently in. Below is an example of a physical training weekly outline based on the needs of field artillery personnel, and a list of job-specific exercises from HPRC, the Army, and the Marine Corps that correspond to each physical domain. To maximize your results, incorporate all job-specific exercises listed into your physical training plan.

Monday: Lower-body powerstrength, and muscular endurance

Tuesday: Upper-body power and strength

Wednesday: Active recovery and core

Thursday: Anaerobic endurance

Friday: Upper-body power, strength, and muscular endurance

Saturday: Aerobic endurance

Sunday: Active recovery and core


Upper-body and lower-body muscular strength exercises:

HPRC: Farmer carryfront-rack carry 

Army: Diagonal chopdiagonal press

Marine Corps: Medicine ball arch chops, landmine rotation 

Upper-body and lower-body muscular power exercises:

The Army and Marine Corps each have exercises within their physical training programs to help with functional training for artillerymen.

Army: Alternating side arm throwunderhand wall throw, diagonal chop throw, power jump

Marine Corps: Med ball side twist tossmed ball woodchopperskettlebell swing, prisoner squat jump

Upper-body and lower-body muscular endurance exercises: Same as muscular strength, but use lighter weight and higher repetitions

Anaerobic endurance exercises: Same as muscular strength and power, but use lighter weight and follow a 1:2 work to rest ratio

Aerobic endurance exercises: Terrain run—running outdoors for time

After following a training plan consistently for a couple months, how do you determine if the plan is improving your job performance? There are no specific field artillery physical fitness assessments. Instead, you can use your service's physical fitness test as a baseline measurement to establish your current level in each of the physical domains. Based on the physical fitness test results, adjust your training plan accordingly to improve your weakest physical domains.

Total Force Fitness for artillerymen

In addition to following a physical training plan based on the demands required to be a field artilleryman and regularly evaluating your progress, addressing your nutritional fitness, mental fitness, and social fitness holistically can help you improve your performance even more. Below are resources for each of the domains that can help you reach your goals.

Nutritional fitness

Proper fueling and performance hydration strategies can give your body the nutrients necessary to put in maximum effort on your physical training plan and help your body recover. Here’s an example of how you can plan what you eat each day based on your physical training plan:

Monday: Lower-body power, strength, and muscular endurance = Heavy training day

Tuesday: Upper-body power and strength = Moderate training day

Wednesday: Active recovery and core = Easy training day

Thursday: Anaerobic endurance = Heavy training day

Friday: Upper-body power, strength, and muscular endurance = Moderate training day

Saturday: Aerobic endurance = Moderate training day

Sunday: Active recovery and core = Easy training day

Mental fitness

Your ability to think clearly, focus your attention, process information, manage stress, regulate your emotions, make decisions, and learn are all affected by how well you sleep. Sleep loss hurts your working memory, ability to concentrate, situational and battlefield awareness, hand-eye coordination, reaction time, decision-making, and multitasking abilities. Making sure you get enough sleep can help you recover from training sessions, which will help you put in the maximum effort needed to stick to your training plan. To improve your physical performance, follow these steps to improve your sleep. It's best to meet all or most of your sleep needs at night, when your brain and body are set for maximum rest and recovery. But you can also use strategic naps on those days when you don't sleep long or well enough at night.

Social fitness

Your performance as a field artilleryman is also tied directly to how your team works together to complete mission requirements. Learn how to increase team cohesion to improve your physical performance.

With the artillery career field being one of the most physically demanding fields, it is important to have a holistic approach to your physical training plan including job-specific exercises and injury prevention strategies. For more information about how to boost your performance as a field artilleryman, please reach out to HPRC via “Ask the Expert.

Published on: July 2, 2024

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