Published: 14-02-2019 16:34 | Updated: 15-02-2019 08:03

Muscular strength for selection to the Swedish Armed Forces

The Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Division of Physiotherapy at Karolinska Institutet develops and evaluates physical selection tests for the Swedish Defense Recruitment Agency and the Swedish Armed Forces. The military medicine research group, led by Helena Larsson, PhD, has presented four publications on the muscular strength tests that are all available online.

Muskeltest_Helena Larssons forskning
Foto: Fredrik Hofgaard

The two perspectives from the Swedish Armed Forces, where one addresses the aim to keep the recruited personnel for a long time, and the other how to increase the proportion of women at all levels, is highlighted in the ongoing assignments. The work is considered particularly important in order to achieve a robust personnel supply where the Isokai selection tests earlier has been questioned.

Content validity – What aspects of muscular strength needs to be measured?

The article highlights what different experts´ consider on muscular tests that are used to assess soldiers´ muscle capacity in relation to the physical demands that various work tasks entail. Material handling, lifting of objects, is considered the most common task. The Isokai test is an isokinetic lifting test that is considered highly relevant to theses tasks. The article also presents a test battery for selecting soldiers for physically demanding service and for assessing soldiers who are preparing for international deployment.

Concurrent validity, i.e. if test results from different tests procedures can be comparable.

The study shows how measurement of muscle strength with the used admission test at the Swedish Defense Recruitment Agency, Isokai test, can be "compared" with a deadlift (used to assess strength in the Swedish armed Forces). The result shows good coherence, which means that there is now a systematic approach with different strength tests from selection/admission to follow-up. Results will be used to further develop the selection system and to adapt training instructions individually for entry at the time of enrollment.

The reliability of the Isokai test has been tested. The results show that the test has a high reliability which supports the use of the test to assess the maximal muscle strength during selection and to measure changes in muscle strength over time.

You can also read a scientific report on the strength test, click here (only in Swedish).

The current research has also been presented at the international conference, 35th FIMS World Congress of Sports Medicine, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 12th September to15th 2018.


Helena Larsson, Matthias Tegern, Lisbet Broman, Karin Harms-Ringdahl, 2011. Isokai-testet som urvalstest till utbildning i Försvarsmaktens nya personalförsörjningssystem.

ISBN-nummer 978-91-7457-498-2.

Larsson H, Tegern M, Monnier A, et al. (2015) Content Validity Index and Intra- and Inter-Rater Reliability of a New Muscle Strength/Endurance Test Battery for Swedish Soldiers. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0132185.

Bohman T, Tegern M, Halvarsson A, Broman L, Larsson H (2018) Concurrent validity of an isokinetic lift test used for admission to the Swedish Armed Forces. PLoS ONE 13(11): e0207054

Tony Bohman, Matthias Tegern, Alexandra Halvarsson, Lisbet Broman, Helena Larsson. Reliability and agreement of the IsoKai isokinetic lift test – a test used for admission to the Swedish Armed Forces. Short title: Reliability of an isokinetic lift test. PLoS ONE 13(12): e0209419.