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Fitness Plans and Monitoring

May

18

Committing to get fit has continued to take me out of my comfort zone this week. Thank you German Volume Training. On several of the workouts this week I have missed the target repetition range, which means I have to keep the same weight for next week and get a few more repetitions out.  

Which brings me onto recording your gym sessions, whether you use the old fashioned notebook and pen or for the more advanced wizards of you your phone. Recording your sessions has so many benefits. I have trained off and on for many years sometimes writing a programme to follow and recording each session, some times just hitting the gym and picking up a weight and seeing what happens. Well I can honestly say writing and recording each session is when I have got the best improvements. It allows you to see the little improvements each week. For example on my German Volume Training, I have recorded the weight and number of repetitions. This means I now know what I have to reach next time. This also shows my progression. You may not think it but if you see……

Week One -       40 x 10             40 x 10       40 x 8

Week Two -       40 x 10             40 x 10        40 x 9

….you have progressed. In week two you have done more work than week one. Writing down the weights also makes you that little bit more competitive with yourself. Remember in fitness you are only really competing with yourself and how far you can push your own body. Seeing that you got 8 reps out the week before makes your determined not to take it easy this week and stop at 7, you know you have to get to 8 or at least 9 repetitions out.

I will now return to the SMART principles of last week, specifically looking at Measurable. Hopefully you have set your Specific goal, but how do you know you are progressing towards this Specific goal / target?

Measurable should look at finding where you are currently, what level are you currently at? This means performing some sort of assessment, ok…test. There are no pass or fails with these tests, simply a score that you look to improve on the next time you assess (test) yourself. Each test is likely to have a recommended score. There are many different tests which you can perform, the one(s) you select will be dependent on your Specific goal / target. For example, it is pointless to perform a cardiovascular (aerobic) test if your goal is to increase your strength .

Body Composition

Weighing scales – make sure you only weigh yourself at the same time every week. Remember our body weight will fluctuate day to day due to food intake (you will weigh more directly after eating), fluid loss and our bowel movements. Weighing yourself at the same time of day, on the same surface each week will make results more comparable. 

Body Stat Percentage – this uses a bioelectrical impedance machine to send a current around your body to measure your body fat percentage and hydration levels. These machines work as fat free mass contains more water than fat. Meaning fat-free mass has less resistance to the current.

Hydrostatic Weighing – your weight is first measured, then in minimal clothing you sit on a specialised seat overhanging a water tank. You then expire the air in your lungs and are lowered into the tank until you are fully submersed. You then remain motionless underwater while your underwater weight is recorded.

Caliper Testing – This is more invasive than the body stat percentage using a bioelectrical impedance machine. Measurements are taken between 3-9 sites, usually down the right side of the body. The tester pinches the skin at a designated site and callipers are applied. After 2 seconds a reading is taken. All the scores are put together and your body fat percentage is determined. 

Aerobic

VO2max – to monitor and record the aerobic endurance. The test requires you to run on a treadmill, with the speed increasing every minute until the subject cannot run anymore. During the test you breathe into a specific mouthpiece and are not able to use your nose. Expired air is collected and  analysed using a gas analyser to work out your VO2max.

Bleep Test – continuous running between 2 cones 20m apart in time to the beeps. As the test progresses the speed increases. If you arrive at the line before the beep you must wait for the beep to catch you up. If you do not make the line you receive a warning, 2 warnings and you are out.

Cooper Test – usually performed on a running track. You have 12 minutes to run as far as possible. At the end of the 12 minutes your total distance is recorded. Various equations can be performed to work out your VO2max score.

Yo-yo intermittent – this test comes in two either the Intermittent Recovery or Intermittent Endurance. This is similar to the Bleep test, you run between two cones 20m apart, keeping up with the beeps. Upon completing two lengths (40m) you rest for 10s before repeating. Again as the test goes on the speed increases for which you have to cover the 20m distance. The Intermittent Endurance test is exactly the same apart from you get 5 seconds recovery between each 40m run.

2000m Rower – simply row 2000m as fast as you can.

Anaerobic

20m Sprints – measures your acceleration, max speed and speed endurance. If you can get hold of timing gates this will make your timing more accurate. Simply time how long it takes you to run 20m (or a set distance).

Agility –  these tests look at your ability to move quickly and change direction.  The agility test you perform will depend on the sport you play. You can make your own agility test up. With any test you have to make sure it is repeatable, valid and reliable. This means in can be replicated. Take measurements of distance between cones, angles between cones and the same surface.

Strength

Endurance – perform as many repetitions as you can on a selected weight.

1 Repetition Maximum – perform this test sub maximally. Perform several warm up sets, using a lighter weight that your test weight and perform 5 reps on a weight you could do 20 repetitions on, 5 reps on a weight you could do 16 repetitions on, 3 reps on a weight you could do 12 repetitions on,  3 reps on a weight you can do 10 repetitions on. Then test. Select a weight you can only do 2 – 10 repetitions with. Perform as may repetitions as possible with this weight (hopefully below 10) and work out your 1 repetition maximum. As I am having problems attaching the 1RM table drop me an e-mail and I will forward it to you. (getfitadvice@sussex.ac.uk)

So if you are going to test yourself find a partner or group of friends and assist each other in recording your results. You are always that little bit more motivated when there is a group of you. Hire a sports hall, astro pitch, get into the gym and measure where you currently are. Then re-test in 4 – 8 weeks and you will then see how well you are progressing towards your specific goal.