B) Fitness Assessment: the results and the new programs...
The fitness assessment:
results and allocation of the new tailored fitness programs.
By Ricky Mullis.
|The fitness assessment: it
crew are what one might call "weekend warriors". That's
not to say that they don't take their activities pretty
seriously, and willingly put their bodies on the line for
the sake of a good performance. It's just that none of them
are professional athletes (which is just as well really,
since we'd all be destitute if we were!).
for a marathon runner is very different to that of a sprinter.
Ok there are similarities in some sports but essentially;
footballers require a different type of fitness to rock
climbers, motorcycle racers or "tough guy" competitors.
test: The tests our "warriors" undertook consisted of a
range of activities designed to assess their starting levels
of fitness in a number of key areas. These were:
- Aerobic capacity
- essential for endurance events
- Muscle power
and endurance -for those sudden burst of activity
- for injury prevention and ease of movement
- that's fat to you and me, and the more you have
the harder you're gonna' have to work carry it around!
Briefly, what our team did
was a maximal running test on a treadmill. We measured their
beer-smelling breath to tell us exactly how much oxygen
they could use when working flat-out. From this we can work
out their aerobic capacity, and gain some idea of whether
or not they're going to win the local half-marathon.
After this, we wiped the
sweat off and got them on the floor. Here, they each did
as many as many sit-ups as they could in one minute. After
a brief rest (begging for mercy) they then did the same
again for press-ups. Both of these were carefully checked
for cheating by our eagle-eyed invigilator, who discounted
anything short of the mark. We also did a test of grip strength.
They then stretched themselves
further in our sit-and-reach test of overall flexibility
(you know the one, keep your legs straight and bend forward
to touch your toes). Finally, we got out the callipers and
took skin-roll measurements in some pretty embarrassing
places, to see just how much flab we could find. Not pretty!
|Here's the findings from
their assessment and their new fitness programs...
Miss Becky (Spec:
Age: 29, Height: 164 cm, Weight: 68 kg)
water skiing, keep-fit and new to mountain biking
Becky did pretty well overall. She scored an
excellent 40 in our aerobic running test, given
that the fancy software reconed on a predicted
value of only 28. (For those interested, that's
40 mls.O2 per kg of body weight per minute that
she was using). She also managed a pretty good
36 sit-ups, 23 girlie style press-ups (from
the knees) which was ok, and was able to reach
an above average13cm beyond her toes in the
stretch. Grip strength was 23kgf right, 24kgf
left. So, all in all a pretty good effort there.
The one area where us guys have a natural advantage
though is in body fat. Generally, women carry
more of it. After all, it helps them make babies
in times of famine. That said, all most of us
could do with losing a bit of excess, and Becky's
target weight loss is 6kg (see our weight loss
section click here).
Becky's new program:
The aim of Becky's programme is to improve her
already excellent aerobic capacity, give her
some specific strengthening for her water-skiing
legs and back, and to increase her grip strength
so that she can hang on to the back of the boat
for a prolonged period of time (and her mountain
bike when she comes out with us). We know that
she can run consistent 9 minute miles and has
a pretty good aerobic base to start with. What
she really needs to do now is get on to the
"interval training" (click
here for more info). She doesn't necessarily
need to do this on every run, but at least once
a week would help. Becky would also benefit
from a circuit training (see chart on the right).
|Week 1 (away on holiday):
I have just got back from South Africa with
Paul where we were sampling some tasty wines.
On Tuesday Paul spotted a large male babboon.
He was scratching his arse and beating his chest.
The babboon looked on in amazement. I'll start
my program now.
Dr. Neil (Spec: Age:
36, Height: 180 cm, Weight: 71kg)
streetluge, karate, squash, (new 'Tough Guy' comp.)
a regular runner with the local club, and as
expected did pretty well in the aerobic test.
He scored a whopping 50, which puts him in the
"superior" category according to the Physical
Fitness Specialist Certification Manual (average
being 37 for his age). He also came out with
a miserly 14.8% body fat (i.e. he's Mr 6-pack
abdomen), so he really doesn't need to lose
any weight at all. That abdomen hoisted him
to 46 sit-ups, again an excellent showing. He
did a pretty good 27 press-ups, and managed
to reach 16cm beyond his toes in our stretch
test, again well above average . Grip strength
was 42 left, and 45 right (about average for
a married man). All of this means that Neil
is in pretty good shape to begin with. However,
he's gonna' have to work damn hard to make big
gains for when we re-test him.
Neil's new program: Now
Neil is already pretty fit aerobically, and
we know that interval training is part of his
regular diet of masochism at his running club.
So he really just needs to keep on pushing himself.
Streetluge as far as I can tell, doesn't really
need a lot of aerobic fitness. However, getting
a good push-off at the start is crucial to clocking
a good time. This requires some serious arm,
shoulder and abdominal activity, and there are
some specific exercises which may well help
the "luger" perform a little better at this.
Neil's circuit will include the as shown in
the chart on the right.
Week 1: Yes, I completed the fitness
program this week. The press-ups were more difficult
than I thought they would be.
Week 2: Yes the program is going fine
but I'm having difficulty fitting it in with
the other sports I'm doing.
Week 3: Note from Todd: Neil dropped
by this evening to see Marilyn (she's a physio).
It seems Neil's 6-pack stomach is so well defined
now that he noticed that it was not symmetric
(i.e. the left side is slightly out of alignment
with the right). Neil is getting seriously fit!
Dr. Paul (Spec: Age: 30, Height:
182 cm, Weight: 81kg)
|Sports: running, a bit
of surfing, soccer, squash. New to mountain biking
Paul is looking to become involved in mountain biking
this year, and he will be joining us for the "Tough
Guy Competition". Paul does a bit of running in his
spare time, and again scored an excellent 45 in our
test (against a predicted 40). Although not quite
packing the full 6 in his abdomen, he scored a respectable
18.5% body fat, leaving him with around a single kg
to shed to make ideal weight. He also hit a good 31
sit-ups. Grip strength was a better than expected
44 right, 45 left. Unfortunately, 12 press-ups is
pretty poor by anyone's standard (remember, his girlfriend
Becky managed nearly twice as many), and a complete
failure to reach his toes by a full 6cm marks him
out as a bit of a stiffy.
Paul's new program: Paul wants
to get involved in the "Tough Guy Competition". So
he'll need a pretty good aerobic base for starters;
which is fortunate because that's what he's best at.
He really just needs to keep up some regular running,
but once again probably needs to start including some
"interval work" for best results (click
here for more info). There is also the small matter
of rope climbs, fighting brambles and crawling through
tunnels full of freezing muddy slimy water. Perhaps
this is where we should concentrate our efforts with
Paul (after all, 12 press-ups isn't going to get us
to the end of the Tough Guy course!).
Week 1 (away on holiday): Have just got back
from South Africa where the meals are more than twice
the size and less than half the price. Have put on
about half a stone. Spent Sunday finding out which
was the best gym in Kendal to join. Well... it's a
Weeks 2 & 3): Confession time. Not done
the exercises yet! However, I would like to boast
similar dissemetry to Dr. Farrow. My right flank is
definitely slightly more obese than the left. Sorry
but work is really busy. If it's any consolation,
I have been thinking about joining a gym in Kendal.
Not actually joined one, but the thought's been there
which is an effort in itself.
Chris (Spec: Age: 34, Height:
177 cm, Weight: 84kg)
surfing, running and climbing
Chris is looking to return to the climbing scene (after
a 1 year gap) and joining us in the "Tough Guy Competition".
Now Chris got a bit seasick running on our treadmill,
so we eventually let him loose on an exercise cycle.
Even though we know that this will probably reduce
his aerobic capacity figure a little (along with his
smoking) he still managed to notch up a score of 37,
which makes him around average for his age. Chris
managed 28 press-ups (good), 26 sit-ups (average).
He also packed a mighty 51kgf in his right fist and
49kgf with his left; and actually managed to grasp
a packet of cigaretts placed a full 17cm beyond his
toes in our stretch test, which is well above average.
Unfortunately, so is his waistline and he came out
with a body fat measure weighing in at 25.7%. We're
looking to lose around 7kg here, to get Chris ready
for the next "Tough Guy" competition (see
weight loss section)
Chris's new program: Chris,
well he's poetry in motion on his R1, but unfortunately
there's also a bit too much motion as he shifts his
weight around the fuel tank. We know that he's pretty
quick already, but we also know (thanks to old "Apple
head" Newton) that Acceleration = Force ÷ Mass (i.e.
the more mass to shift, the less acceleration we get).
What's more, most of this mass…. Oh let's forget the
scientific crap, his bodyweight is carried high up
on the motorcycle, which is not good (for a number
of reasons which we won't go into right now). Chris
needs to spend a bit of time in "negative energy balance"
by putting a few aerobic miles under his belt. The
important thing here is volume of activity, rather
than intensity; and he needs to get out and pound
the pavements or get on his mountain bike at least
3-4 times per week for an hour. He doesn't have to
go as fast as he can, but just burn up a few calories
in the process. A general circuit (similar exercises
to Becky's circuit, but with a few more reps) will
give him variety in his training, and also help him
wrestle his R1 around on "Mad Sunday" at the TT races.
Week 1: It can be summed
up by "this week I be mostly aching". I'm finding
it rather painful myself, but I have lost a couple
of pounds so somethings working. Also now the clocks
have changed it's possible to go running again, so
that should speed things along.
Week 2: Bad week this one
as I was away in France on business, resulting in
the consumption of vast amounts of rich food, washed
down with similar proportions of fine wine. I was
also obliged to accompany my hosts in a tour of local
bars, thus adding a quantity of Belgian wheat beer
to the overall calorie intake. I did no exercise and
generally found this week more enjoyable than the
Week 3: This week's excuse
is a poorly motorcycle. My spare time was spent in
the garage swearing at a seized EXUP valve, rather
than running and doing press ups etc. I did manage
to do 50 situps on Sunday evening and it seems this
was enough to allow me to shed another couple of pounds,
so only another 7 to go...
Week 4: Well I've caught
a stinking head cold and feel like someone has stuck
three feet of cotton wool in both my ears, so yes
I have noticed a marked deterioration. Generally the
waist line has diminished a tad and the running is
getting easier, but like most people work is adversley
affecting my ability to do as much exercise as Todd
and Ricky would like me to.
Dr. Andy (Spec: Age: circa
38, Height: 187 cm, Weight: 75.5kg)
|Sports: motorcycle racing
Andy is looking to return to racing his motorcycle/sidecar
outfit after a gap of 6 years. Now Andy's not a regular
runner, but he still scored a respectable 36 in our
aerobic test (just above his age predicted value of
34). He did a pretty good 23 press-ups, above average
30 sit-ups and a lop-sided 42kgf grip on the right
compared to 51kgf on the left (don't ask!). He just
managed to pass his toes with a single cm to spare
in the sit and reach test. However nothing to spare
around his middle, with a lowly body fat of 18.9%
(excellent for his age range). Andy can eat and drink
just whatever he wants.
Andy's new program: Andy's
hopes to return to motorcycle sidecar racing means
that he'll be spending a lot of time crunched up in
a sort of foetal position, but shifting his weight
around at the same time. His main focus should be
concentrated on exercises that help him to move quickly
from one crunched up position to another, and that
help him push and pull the 'bars of his sidecar outfit.
I'd recommend a circuit which includes the following
exercises as shown on the chart on the right.
Weeks 1 and 2 by Andy: I only have a piece
of scaffold tube to use as a weight for the shoulder
press/bicep curls, need something heavier. The ceiling
in my flat is too low to do chin ups. Is a "deep squat"
a squat jump or a squat thrust ? If a squat jump,
see previous excuse. The crunches and back extensions
hurt my back. I use two squash balls instead of a
tennis ball. Have been doing some running as well.
Was going to go to gym with Todd O'Neill but he wimped
out. Cheers, Andy.
Week 3: Have obtained some 2" round mild steel
bar 1.2 metres long for the shoulder press and two
25cm lengths for the bicep curls, all this for 12
quid, what a bargain.
Week 4 and 5: Have been doing the exercises
twice a week. The main result is that my right arm
now hurts. Have arranged to go running with Becky
Ricky Mullis (Spec: Age: 41,
Height: 183 cm, Weight: 84 kg)
|Sports: martial arts (Shutokai),
motorcycling, running, surfing
Ricky is looking to get involved in some cliff jumping
(into water that is) and to participate in the "Tough
Guy Competition". Claims not to like running but managed
an aerobic test score of 40 (predicted 35), not brilliant
but above average, which wasn't a surprise for anyone.
Now this is more like it! Press-ups, a whopping 61
"superior", coupled with a 'well above average" 43
sit-ups and sit and reach 26cm beyond toes (Mr. Bendy
supreme). Grip strength was a pretty average 43/43.
Body fat: uh-oh looks like Ricky has been indulging
in the old 'Fuller's London Pride' and racked up 24.9%.
Ricky won't take that lightly… he needs to lose 4kg
(see weight loss section click
The program Ricky designed for
himself (we had to re-write it a bit because Ricky
wanted to increase his buoyancy in the water by gaining
some fat - ed): Ricky has been into martial arts for
a while now, and needs good all round body conditioning
and flexibility, along with a reasonable aerobic base
to help recovery from those short sharp burst of action.
Again, a well designed circuit training routine is
probably the single best form of exercise to meet
Week 1: I was doing ok untill I stepped on
the scales at home. Bugger me sideways, if I haven't
lost 2kg. This is exceptionally poor, since my aim
is to gain some padding around the middle!! Must try
Weeks 2 & 3: Yes, until this week I was
experiencing similar problems to Neil, with an unbalanced
abdomen. However, 26 pints of Brighton beer later
and all is back to normal. Thankfully the 6-pack has
completely gone again!!
Todd O'Neill (Spec: Age: 37, Height:
171 cm, Weight: 66 kg)
|Sports: streetluge, surfing,
Todd is looking to do some climbing (after a 1 year
gap), as well as mountain biking (after a 5 year gap)
and to have a go at the "Tough Guy Competition". Todd
hates running as much as the next guy, but still scored
an above average 43 on the treadmill test (against
a predicted 37). He managed a "superior" 45 sit-ups
and an excellent 35 press-ups. He scored a balanced
41kgf grip strength on either side, and only just
squeezed past his toes by 2cm in the sit and reach
test. Body fat came in at 20.4%, which means that
he could really do with losing a couple of kgs before
the "Tough Guy" comes up (see weight loss click
Todd's new program: Toddy's
a bit of a surfer dude, and as such needs a combination
of balance and good all round conditioning. He needs
those swimming/paddling muscles to be in good shape
or else he'll never manage to out and get those big
green waves. A few deep squats to help him shift his
weight around in that crouched surfing position will
help him stay in control, once he finally manages
to stand up. Todd needs to get running along those
beaches to get in good aerobic shape. Running on sand
is much harder that on a firm surface, so matching
your best road pace on the beach is not gonna happen
(but it's a really good way to push your heart and
lungs to the limit). A circuit similar to Paul's should
get him in good shape for the next shark-dodging season.
Week 1:: cripes, I could
just complete one circuit on my first attempt. My
calf muscles are killing me, and I have difficulty
walking down stairs. God, I knew I was out of shape,
but I had no idea I was this far gone! The next 8
weeks are going to be pure hell!
Week 2:: I'm getting more
used to it now and I can do 2 circuits (but its not
easily). I tweaked my ankle when I was out cross-county
running with the dogs, and I'm limping around like
an old man - so I'm laying off the impact stuff until
it settles. Well thats my first excuse and I'm sure
there will many more to follow...
Week 3: I managed to do
the program only twice this week, reason being that
I thought I'd benefit by going surfing on Saturday
and Sunday. Well, I did go surfing, but I also drank
gallons of Ale and I'm feeling fatter now than when
I started the program 3 weeks ago. Hmmm... I must
Week 4: Yup, I'm still cracking
on with the program, but I'm on 2 circuits 3 times
a week (not 3 circuits) so I'll up things this week
- oh joy! Some days my old beer gut looks a tiny bit
smaller then other days its back with a vengeance!
Week 5: Trouble. Birthday
celebrations meant I had to spend the long weekend
in London drinking gallons of beer followed by gallons
of red wine. Managed only 2 circuits this week.
Week 6: Managed 2 circuits
this week due to shortage of spare time. Seems some
of the piston rings on the car decided to break and
so R.I.P Mr. Porsche 944. I had to spend time grieving
and shopping around for a motorcycle.
Week 7: I tweaked my ankle
again (blast) when cross-country running with the
dogs. I managed to do a couple of circuits but I left
out the impact stuff.
Mark S. (Spec: Age: 29, Height:
192 cm, Weight: 76kg)
|Sports: running, track
cycling, triathlon, and a return to mountain biking
Marks father enrolled Mark into the Trentham Running
Club the day he was born so it comes as no surprise
that he scored a remarkably 52 ("superior") on our
aerobic capacity test (compared to a predicted 40).
He pushed out an "excellent" 40 press-ups, 43 sit-ups
and even managed to bend in the middle far enough
to reach 13 cm beyond his toes. His grip was an above
average 46 on the right and 47 on the left; and with
only 17% body fat he really only needs to shed a kg
or so to be ready for this seasons challenges. The
only downside to all of this is that (along with Neil)
he's gonna have to work pretty hard to make big gains
before re-test time.
Marks new program: Mark S is
in pretty good shape already, so he's gonna have to
work hard to make big gains. Like Neil, Mark already
and Fartlek training' at the running club. If
he's going to get into track cycling as well, then
he needs to apply those same principles of "overload"
to his cycle training. This means mixing up short
sharp bursts of sprinting (or fast hills) with steady
state recovery, in the same way that you would when
running. Abdominal muscle tone is important for stability
on the bike, so a circuit along the following lines
should help his performance and reduce the risk of
Weeks 1 to 4: My comments on the fitness regime
thus far: Coping with the huge reduction in my training
programme required by theDoctor Danger fitness regime
is proving tough. With all this time on my hands I've
already exhausted my collection of Hong Kong Phooey
videos and am half way through the complete works
of Enid Blyton. At this rate I might even end up talking
to the wife in order to fill those vacant hours when
I would normally train. Seriously though, because
my email still won't pick up word documents I'm not
sure which of the exercises on the site I should be
doing. I've therefore hand picked a selection which
seemed most relevant to mountain biking and track
cycling. And I'll admit that they are tougher than
they look when Ricky the tanned taut God with the
funny pony tail does them. I've been at them for 2
weeks now. However, my penis hasn't grown an inch
yet. Why is this? Am I doing the wrong exercises or
did I check out the wrong web site. Come to think
of it I'd never noticed Ricky's rather glorious breasts
before..... More next week, Mark.
Mark Warrender (Spec: Age: 31,
Height: 178 cm, Weight: 83kg)
|Sports: Hang gliding,
Test results: Mark
claims that he wouldn't recognise the inside of a
gym. However, humping hang gliders up hills has certainly
done him no harm (yet) as he scored a surprisingly
cool 42 in our aerobic test (predicted 38). We started
to believe him a little more when he only managed
15 press-ups in a full minute. However, he redeemed
himself a little with 26 sit-ups and was at least
able to extend past his toes by an above average 10cm.
He hangs on to his glider with a grip strength of
44kgf on the right and 48kgf left (that's probably
why he tends to fly around in circles). He weighed
in with a body fat of 22.4%, meaning that his glider
is working overtime to the tune of around 4kg (see
weight loss section click
Marks Warrenders new program:
Mark W gets his adrenalin fix by jumping off cliffs
with his hang-glider, and then realising it's a heck
of a long way down. We could have told him this anyway,
but he still insists on finding out for himself each
time. So to help him stay in control of things (including
his bowels) he should be doing exercises that:- a)
allow him to get up to the top of the hill in the
first place b) ensure that he doesn't get fatigued
(and clumsy) while he's still 500ft above the jagged
rocks Let's see now, that's leg strength/endurance
to get him up the hill coupled with arm, shoulder
and abdominal power to keep him afloat once he's taken
another giant leap of faith (in his equipment). Also,
when you're fighting gravity the way Mark does, carrying
extra weight is not such a good idea, so those 4kg
should be despatched first class. He should be getting
out for walk or a cycle a couple of times a week to
burn up some calories, and a general conditioning
circuit (like Paul's) should help him stay high as
Week 1: I'm afraid I haven't managed to do
the full program yet. It's not the physical effort
but finding the time. The stair runs are fine, as
are the other 'in house' exercises (Sit-ups etc.)
apart from the press ups. My broken wrist/hand are
complaining like crazy. While I haven't consciously
gone out for a run or similar aerobic exercise, hang
gliding twice a week seems to do the trick. For example,
I climbed Mam Tor three times yesterday, twice with
a hang glider. That's 1000ft climb that takes about
40 minutes, the glider weighs 60lbs. It was a shit
day as I bent it on the way down, during an unplanned
ground interface. I'm fine, it's just a pain in the
arse as I've got to replace some bits at the weekend.
I don't feel any fitter or stronger, but some of the
guys yesterday were puffing way before I was. Also,
this may sound strange but I feel more awake than
usual. Could this be related?
Week 2 &3: I have managed well with the
press ups and sit ups, these are getting less painful
daily. You can't see any improvement under the fat
layer, but hey, I know it's there. It's how you feel,
not how you look right?
Week 4: I was just thinking how nice these
chocolate digestives were when I read your mail asking
for a fitness update. I guess this means I'm doing
really well, as I've managed to eat more than I need
to without incurring any extra exercise. Cool eh?
Really, I've done sit ups and press ups more or less
every day but that's all. It gets harder, not easier
- should it? I haven't been hang gliding for a while
as my kite is still being fixed, so climbing those
hills hasn't been happening. I might get out for a
run one night, then again....
Tim (Spec: Age: 34, Height: 178
cm, Weight: 78 kg)
|Sports: running, mountain
biking and return to rock climbing
Tim is looking to return to climbing (after about
a 5 year gap), and to try his hand at mountain biking
and the "Tough Guy Competition". Now Tim does a bit
of aerobic training, and this showed up in our treadmill
test when he scored a pretty reasonable figure of
41 (against a predicted 38). However, apart from gripping
the bars of his bike firmer than most (47kgf right,
49kgf left) he doesn't do much else, as evidenced
by a pretty poor 11 press-ups and a pretty rigid 6cm
short of his toes in the sit-and-reach. He did manage
to pull himself to an above average 33 sit-ups, although
the fine abdominal muscles that did this good work
were covered with 25% body fat. This means that Tim
could usefully lose around 6kg (see weight loss click
Tim's new program: Tim wants
to get into climbing again, so he's got some work
to do. Climbing requires flexibility, static muscle
endurance along with a favourable power to weight
ratio, on top of a reasonable aerobic base. He'd make
things easier for himself by shedding those extra
kgs that our skin-fold callipers found. So it's negative
energy balance (increased activity and "sensible"
eating) for a while. Regular running and cycling should
do it. Once again it's quantity that really counts
if we're trying to shed the weight. He'll also benefit
from plenty of stretching, so that he can get his
legs where they safely need to be on the rock face.
A circuit aimed at improving the strength endurance
of his grip and calf muscles, along with general toning
Week 1: The exercise regime is going ok. Feel
slimmer and more flexible already - amazing what can
be done with positive thinking (rather than hard physical
Weeks 2 & 3: This warm weather encourages
me to drink more (as if I need encouragement). By
drinking I do not mean isotonic drinks. Having difficulty
to discipline myself to do all the exercises but I
have been doing a lot of running. Have decided to
do the Potteries marathon. I think I am getting stronger
and am planning a trip to the local climbing wall
to see if it is making a difference.