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>Section 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 wasn't pretty!

Our motley 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!).

Fitness 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.

The actual 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:

  1. Aerobic capacity - essential for endurance events
  2. Muscle power and endurance -for those sudden burst of activity
  3. Flexibility - for injury prevention and ease of movement
  4. Adiposity - 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!

Special Note: Weight loss and fat loss

The best combination for healthy weight loss is a sensible diet (whatever that is!) and some regular activity. Healthy weight loss can only be achieved at a slow and steady rate (around 1kg per week maximum).

To learn more about weight loss click here...

Here's the findings from their assessment and their new fitness programs...

 Miss Becky (Spec: Age: 29, Height: 164 cm, Weight: 68 kg)

Sports: running, water skiing, keep-fit and new to mountain biking

Test results: 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).

Progress report from Becky:
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.
Circuit training: 1 circuit
1 Press-ups 12
2 Squats 12
3 Ball squashes 12
4 Back extensions 12
5 Calf raises 20
6 Bicep curls 12
7 Twist sit-ups 18
8 Mid-range squats 12
Becky is to complete 2 circuits back-to-back, 3 times a week, as well as continue with her usual exercise and sporting activities.


 Dr. Neil (Spec: Age: 36, Height: 180 cm, Weight: 71kg)

Sports: running, streetluge, karate, squash, (new 'Tough Guy' comp.)

Test results:Neil's 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.

Progress report from Dr. Neil:

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!

Fitness program: 1 circuit
1 Press-ups 20
2 Sit-ups 25
3 Chin-ups 5
4 Squat jumps 20
5 Tricep dips 20
6 Crunches 20
7 Shoulder ext. 12
8 Back extensions 20
9 Bicep curls 12
10 Stair runs 10
11 Wrist curls 12
12 Jack-knives 20
Neil is to complete 2 circuits back-to-back, 3 times a week, as well as continue with his usual exercise and sporting activities.


 Dr. Paul (Spec: Age: 30, Height: 182 cm, Weight: 81kg)

Sports: running, a bit of surfing, soccer, squash. New to mountain biking

Test results: 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!).

Progress report from Dr. Paul:

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 start...

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.

Fitness program: 1 circuit
1 Press-ups 10
2 Sit-ups 20
3 Squat jumps 10
4 Bicep curls 12
5 Crunches 12
6 Stair runs 5
7 Tricep dips 10
8 Twist sit-ups 20
9 Squat thrusts 20
10 Chin-ups 3
11 Back extentions 12
12 Calf raises 20
Paul is to complete 2 circuits back-to-back, 3 times a week, as well as continue with his usual exercise and sporting activities and he will need to do lots of stretching!!!


 Chris (Spec: Age: 34, Height: 177 cm, Weight: 84kg)

Sports: motorcycling, surfing, running and climbing

Test results: 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.

Progress report from Chris:

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 last.

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.


Fitness program: 1 circuit
1 Press-ups 20
2 Sit-ups 18
3 Squats 20
4 Ball squashes 12
5 Back extensions 12
6 Calf raises 20
7 Bicep curls 12
8 Twist sit-ups 18
9 Mid range squat 20
Chris is to complete 2 circuits back-to-back, 3 times a week, as well as continue with his usual exercise and sporting activities.


 Dr. Andy (Spec: Age: circa 38, Height: 187 cm, Weight: 75.5kg)

Sports: motorcycle racing (sidecar)

Test results: 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.

Progress repor from Andyt:

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 on Wednesday.

Fitness program: 1 circuit
1 Shoulder press 12
2 Sit-ups 20
3 Deep squats 12
4 Bicep curls 12
5 Crunches 15
6 Stair runs 5
7 Press ups 15
8 Twist sit-ups 16
9 Hip extensions 12
10 Chin ups 3
11 Back extensions 12
12 Ball squashes 12
Andy is to complete 2 circuits back-to-back, 3 times a week, as well as continue with his usual exercise and sporting activities.


 Ricky Mullis (Spec: Age: 41, Height: 183 cm, Weight: 84 kg)

Sports: martial arts (Shutokai), motorcycling, running, surfing

Test results: 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 here).

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 this need.

Progress report from Ricky:

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 harder.

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!!

Fitness program: 1 circuit
1 Press-ups 40
2 Sit ups 20
3 Squats 30
4 Chin-ups 5
5 Back extensions 20
6 Calf raises 20
7 Tricep dips 20
8 Twist sit-ups 20
9 Squat jumps 20
10 Shoulder press 12
11 Crunches 20
12 Stair run 6
Ricky is to complete 2 or 3 circuits back-to-back, 3 times a week, as well as continue with his usual exercise and sporting activities.


 Todd O'Neill (Spec: Age: 37, Height: 171 cm, Weight: 66 kg)

Sports: streetluge, surfing, motorcycling, running.

Test results: 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 here).

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.

Progress reportfrom Todd O'Neill.:

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 try harder.

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.



Fitness program: 1 circuit
1 Press-ups 20
2 Sit-ups 20
3 Squat jumps 10
4 Bicep curls 12
5 Crunches 12
6 Stair runs 5
7 Tricep dips 25
8 Twist sit-ups 20
9 Squat thrusts 20
10 Chin-ups 5
11 Back extensions 12
12 Calf raises 20
13 Shoulder ext. 12
Todd's is to complete 2 or 3 circuits back-to-back, 3 times a week, as well as continue with his usual exercise and sporting activities.


 Mark S. (Spec: Age: 29, Height: 192 cm, Weight: 76kg)

Sports: running, track cycling, triathlon, and a return to mountain biking

Test results: 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 includes 'interval 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 injury.

Progress reportfrom Mark S.:

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.

Fitness program: 1 circuit
1 Press-ups 25
2 Leg crunches 20
3 Squats 20
4 Twist sit-ups 20
5 Bicep curls 12
6 Crunches 20
7 Stair runs 10
8 Back extensions 20
9 Ball squashes 12
10 Jack-knives 20
11 Tuck jumps 20
12 Sit-ups 20
Mark is to complete 2 or 3 circuits back-to-back, 3 times a week, as well as continue with his usual exercise and sporting activities (which are demanding).


 Mark Warrender (Spec: Age: 31, Height: 178 cm, Weight: 83kg)

Sports: Hang gliding, streetluge

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 here).

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 a kite.

Progress report from Mark Warrender:

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....

Fitness program: 1 circuit
1 Press-ups 10
2 Sit-ups 20
3 Squat jumps 10
4 Bicep curls 12
5 Crunches 12
6 Stair runs 5
7 Tricep dips 10
8 Twist sit-ups 20
9 Squat thrusts 20
10 Chin-ups 3
11 Back extensions 12
12 Calf raises 20
Mark is to complete 2 circuits back-to-back, 3 times a week, as well as continue with his usual sporting activities.


 Tim (Spec: Age: 34, Height: 178 cm, Weight: 78 kg)

Sports: running, mountain biking and return to rock climbing

Test results: 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 here).

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 should help

Progress report from Tim:

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 exercise)...

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.

Fitness program: 1 circuit
1 Press-ups 10
2 Sit-ups 15
3 Deep squats 10
4 Chin-ups 3
5 Crunches 15
6 Single-leg calf raise 10
7 Ball squashes 12
8 Back extensions 10
9 Stair runs 5
10 Bicep curls 12
11 Twist sit-ups 14
12 Hopping (ea.leg) 20
Tim is to complete 2 circuits back-to-back, 3 times a week, as well as continue with his usual exercise and sporting activities and he'll need to start stretching.