• TRX Training Top 10 Exercise Challenge

    Forget “How much do you bench?”,  today we’re challenging your functional fitness.

    From runners to powerlifters, sports athletes to yoga bunnies. Whatever your sport, a strong set of abdominals are crucial in every exercise. To increase power, strength, speed, balance, agility and coordination, a strong core is the centre of all training.

    TRX Top 10 Training Exercises

    The TRX is renowned for its challenging abdominal exercises and good beginner strength is needed for even the simplest of its exercises as suspension training causes your abdominals to fire, braced under constant tension.

    Not everyone is a beginner. Do you want to prove your part of the fitness elite?

    Our TRX workout comprises of 10 exercises, each getting progressively harder as you dig deeper into the challenge.

    Test your strength and find out what your results say about your training.

    Will you make the perfect 10/10 score?

    Challenge Accepted

    01. TRX Plyometric Lunges

    Move one, you’d better get this! Hold both TRX handles at a medium length and sink into a lunge. As you hit the bottom of the lunge (knee just off the floor), explode off both feet and switch legs (whilst airborne) to lunge on the alternative leg. Perform a minimum of 10 to pass this move.

    02. TRX Pistol Squat (Single-leg Squat)

    Exercise two.The Pistol squat is perhaps one of the toughest body weight exercises there is, requiring leg strength, balance, flexibility, supple joints  and advanced coordination. Holding onto the TRX will help you with balance, but the leg strength is all down to you. Grabbing both TRX handles extend one leg in front of you and sink down into a squat, driving off the single supporting leg to return to standing. Let’s see 6 per side before you check off number two!

    TRX Pistol Squat

    TRX Pistol Squat

    03. TRX Wall Row

    Well done, you’ve made it to third base.The TRX row’s elder (and much tougher) brother, the wall row. Once again grab your TRX handles facing the anchor as though you were about to perform a row, except now we’re taking it off the ground. Place one foot a time onto the wall so you are fully suspended and now perform your row, keeping your back flat and drawing yourself up until your hands meet the sides of your ribcage. This is tough exercise as you are now fully suspended controlling your full body weight,  whilst also maintaining a tight core in order to balance against the wall. If you can’t reach a wall from your attachment, try placing your feet on a high step. 12 rows before you move on.

    04. TRX Single-Leg Burpees

      It's time to take things up a notch. You didn’t think you’d get to halfway easy did you? For exercise 4 loop your handles so that just one is taut and hook in your foot over the bottom stirrup. The handle should hang around knee length. Now, facing away from the anchor, you’re going to burpee or ‘squat thrust’ as they are more formally known. Take you hands down to the ground as you jump the free leg back into extended plank. Explode off this leg and jump back to standing. Viola. An intense full-body plyometric exercise. A total of 10 is required, that’s 10 per leg. No excuses!

      TRX single leg burpee start position

      TRX single leg burpee start position

      05. TRX Triple Threat Abdominals

        Halfway there! Not bad. Our next move’s a triple threat, you’re going to need abs of steel for this one. Facing away from the anchor, come onto all fours and attach your feet into the stirrups, lift your knees off the floor so you are in a floating plank position, this is your start point. From here we complete the following sequence, push, pike, crunch. For the push-up, sink your chest down to the floor engaging your abdominals to prevent your feet from swinging in the stirrups. Next, the pike, lock your knees and keep your legs and arms extended whilst bringing your feet forward towards your hands. Your bum should lift into the air and it should feel like you're trying to fold in half. The third part to this move is a suspended crunch, return to your plank and then tuck your knees in towards your elbows, bum down this time. Hint: You need to shorten your straps so that as you pike your feet remain elevated.Completing all three moves counts as one rep. Hit 10.

        TRX pike

        TRX pike

        06. TRX Row to Extended Plank

        So you beat halfway? But can you score six? The row to plank double. Grab both handles and lean back for a bodyweight row. Palms face each other as you pull your body up, elbows shaving the ribcage. This is the turning point where, maintaining a neutral spine, you now bring your hands up passed your head and into a fallout position, shifting your bodyweight forward simultaneously until your hands are straight above your head. Your body weight should shift backwards and forwards between these two moves. Another 10 will see you through to TRX exercise three. A row plus a plank count as one, don’t try any half reps!

        TRX side view fallout

        TRX side view fallout

        07. TRX Single-Handed Push Up

        Seventh heaven? Not for you. This one's set to put your body through hell.To complete the seventh move loop your TRX handles through one another so that one handle is taut. Hold one handle and come to the ground to set up for a single hand push-up. One hand is going to remain suspended in the TRX, whilst you push up using the other. Sink down until your nose is scraping the floor for your push up and then explosively drive off and extend both arms, the TRX arm should now be fully extended supporting your weight, whilst your other arm hovers above the ground. Give me 8….. per side!

        TRX single arm push-up

        TRX single arm push-up

        08. TRX Chin Up

        Move 8, impressive. For the TRX chin up, shorten your straps and loop both handles through so that they stay together, then grab them with palms facing towards you (chin ups palms face you, pull ups palms face away). Suspend completely so that you are hanging, cross your legs or tuck them behind, just make sure they don't touch the ground. Pull up until your chin faces your hands and then relax back down. Let’s go for 5, 10 if you're showing off.

        TRX chin-up

        TRX chin-up

        09. TRX Handstand

        And then there were two. This one is advanced. You're going to start by hooking both feet into the stirrups, your hands facing the anchor. Taking both hands to the floor lift one leg off the ground and begin simultaneously walking your hands back whilst you lift the second leg off the floor, driving both feet back into the stirrups. Continue walking your hands back until you reach a vertical handstand. The ultimate balance challenge this needs advanced core and shoulder strength and is a tricky one to master.

        TRX Handstand

        TRX-handstand

        10. TRX Handstand Push Ups

        If 9 was advanced, this must be really advanced. Set up the same as move 9 and walk into a TRX handstand, but this time, once you’re in the handstand position, lower your chest towards the floor to complete a handstand pushup. Perhaps the toughest TRX move there is, master this and you have exceptional calisthenic skills, a show stopping party trick and of course, most importantly scored a 10/10 in our TRX challenge.

        What does your TRX training score say about you?

        1-4 / 10 - These are your legs and back exercises. These two areas comprise the largest muscle groups in your body. If your score ends here, try to develop back and leg strength with exercises like rowing or squatting.

        5-6 / 10 - Whilst you passed the leg and back exercises, your downfall was balance and abdominal exercises. Build core strength with less advanced TRX moves such as the TRX basic crunch. Focus on core work within your other training, exercises like leg raises and oblique twists build strength, whilst compound lifts performed with good form will help you learn how to engage your core properly to help you hold static movements on the TRX.

        7-8 / 10 - These are really advanced calisthenic exercises and a score here shows an advanced level of fitness and skill. Practise plyometric push ups off the floor, single hand push ups, assisted pull ups or negatives using the TRX to help enhance your performance.

        9-10/10 - Welcome to the TRX Elite, you have awesome skills and this is both a fantastic and admirable score. Advanced strength, balance, coordination, flexibility and dedication have lead you to pass our TRX challenge. With this advanced level of ability maybe it’s time to push yourself a little further, unleash your competitive side and complete a Tough mudder or Nuclear race!

        If you have not purchased a TRX or similar suspension trainer we strongly recommend you visit the official TRX site (for the UK, if you are outside the UK the American site is probably better found here). If you can afford to buy the professional version of the TRX trainers you will receive a login with several workout videos, charts, PDF downloadable workouts. All extremely high quality and very easy to use. The TRX is a premium workout suspension trainer and there are cheaper alternatives on the market. But if you can buy TRX then we recommend for the quality, care of service and support network that you do. 

        Ask your local gym if they have a TRX set-up. Or your personal trainer if they carry a set of TRX resistance bands. If you do not have a suitable anchor point from the ceiling, the professional kit comes with door mounts. And straps that will anchor it to a lamp post or similar. 

        Posted by Victoria Gardner
      1. Functional Fitness to Improve Posture

        We are almost all guilty of being chronic sitters. In fact we spend on average 8.9 hours a day sat down in the UK. The result is slumped shoulders, arched backs and poor posture, but functional training can fix that. Knowing the right corrective exercises can help you to improve and even correct your posture.

        Functional Fitness to Improve Posture

        Effects of poor posture

        Back Pain

        Posture helps stabilise the spine and prevents back pain and fatigue. When the back is straight, the spine is supported by stabilising muscles. As you slouch or practice other methods of poor posture, your spine no longer has the support it needs to stay balanced which can lead to health problems.

        Aching Muscles

        Poor posture causes aches and pains. In an ideal world your spine is in neutral alignment and your muscles support your frame, however as we fall away from this alignment, the muscles have to over extend or contract to try and keep the spine stable and protected. This then leads to tightness and fatigue. The major muscles which suffer the effects of this are the Rectus Abdominus, Internal and External Obliques, Erector Spinae, Splenius and the Multifidus. This is why aches are not limited to the lower back, but can also be felt in the neck and shoulders.

        Curvature of the Spine

        A more serious effect of poor posture is the development of a spinal curve. Naturally your spine should resemble a soft “s” shape, however poor posture can cause this to become exaggerated. When bad posture becomes a habit, pressure on the spine builds and slowly but surely, the curves in the spine change position. Once its position has changed, the spine's ability to achieve what it’s designed to do - absorb shock and keep you balanced, is significantly reduced.

        Subluxations

        A change in the spinal curve can cause subluxations. A subluxation is a partial misalignment of the vertebra which can become a major issue. One affected vertebrae can then affect the integrity of the entire spinal column. The knock on result of this is that spinal nerves can then become stressed and irritated.

        Blood Vessel Constriction

        Poor posture changes the alignment of your spine, the resulting movement and subluxations can cause problems with blood vessel constriction. The constriction of the blood vessels around the spine can cut off blood supply to the cells of the muscles, which can then affect their nutrient and oxygen supply. Blood vessel constriction can also raise your chances of clot formation and deep vein thrombosis.

        Nerve Constriction

        One of the most common side effects of bad posture is nerve constriction. As the spine changes in shape, the resulting movements or subluxations can put pressure on the surrounding spinal nerves. The nerves that connect to the spine come from all over the body and when pinched can not only cause neck and back pain but may also cause pain in other unrelated areas of the body.

        Common postural imbalances and functional correction exercises

        Tight Hips

        Tight hip flexors often occur as a result of extended periods of sitting and can cause shortening of the muscles. Tight hips can also lead to a restricted range of motion and discomfort around the lower back muscles, joints and legs.

        Functional corrective exercises: Corrective exercises for tight hip flexors would include lots of dynamic movements to strengthen the hips, making sure to mobilise this normally static muscle group. Tight hip flexors will restrict your range of motion for a good squat, so try warm up exercises to activate the hips before you step into a squat rack.

        Exercises may include:

        • Standing donkey kicks
        • Cross body leg swings (these could be banded or performed with a cable attachment)
        • Yoga moves such as the “Open Lizard Stretch” or “Pigeon” or “Butterfly” stretch

        Internally Rotated Shoulders

        Typically it’s those with office jobs who tend to suffer from internally rotated shoulders the most. This is because you’re sat leaning over a computer and extending the arms to type. This causes a craning of the neck and pain around the top of the neck and shoulders and can also result in weak chest muscles. In order to correct this, we need to strengthen the chest and perform exercises which retract the shoulders.

        Exercises may include:

        • Cable flyes - Always opt for standing over seated when trying to train functionally. Sitting is not functional. Strengthening the chest will help to push your shoulders back and improve your posture, as the chest muscles are reactivated.
        • Rotator cuff exercises such as a lawn mower pull -  A lawn mower pull requires you to pull a band or cable from the ground, across the body and up to the shoulder joint, retracting your shoulder.

        Underactive Glutes

        This is caused by...  wait for it… you guess it, too much sitting! As you can see frequent sitting isn’t good for us, a list of the effects it has on the body can be read on 'workout at work' here

        Sitting completely deactivates our largest muscle group and can cause weak, tight glutes. This can often lead to sway back and an overextended pelvis.

        Exercises may include:

        • Deep sumo squats - These will activate the glutes and fire up the hip flexors, taking a wide (sumo) stance also enables you to get lower into the squat, activating more of the glutes and training the abductors.
        • Multidirectional lunges - Multidirectional lunges are great for reactivating tired glutes as you fire up the muscles in multiple planes of motion, you should complete a lunge on each leg at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock.

        As well as targeting areas which have suffered the effects of too much sitting, we can also stretch to prevent these tight zones in the first place or be more active throughout the day. A great way of doing this is EHOH, an initiative designed to prevent the dangers of sitting, where every hour on the hour, you get up and do a mini workout routine, stretch your legs and move your body about to prevent the dangers of sitting.

        Posted by Victoria Gardner
      2. Is Functional Fitness Right for You?

        Functional fitness is designed to focus your training on improving daily function. What’s functional will differ from person to person, as what we do in our daily lives is different.

        What’s not functional fitness?

        As with most things, there’s always someone who takes it too far. Functional fitness was originally focused on developing better movement quality, however some interpreted this as “how difficult can we make an exercise” in order to brand themselves as elite. There is no need to be bouncing on a bosu, single-legged with a dumbbell in each hand, unless to function in your daily routine you need plyometric, strength and balance, perhaps this would be functional for perhaps a trapeze artist and even then, you wouldn’t throw all these goals into one exercise.

        The aftermath (and most probably injuries) of these extreme exercises has led to a rewind in mainstream thinking and what we now deem as functional training. We’re starting to see the function being put back into the training.

        Functional Fitness vs Bodybuilding

        Functional Fitness vs Bodybuilding

        Are you team function or team bodybuilding? Does it have to be one or the other?

        Contrary to popular belief, no. Functional fitness is not the sworn enemy of bodybuilding, in fact many bodybuilding compound lifts, such as the squat and deadlift, are adapted into functional training regimes. Where the two differ, is with their focus on isolation and aesthetics. Bodybuilding focuses on the way muscles look, whereas functional fitness is about how the muscles move.

        What are the Benefits of functional fitness?

        You can’t train functionally sitting down.

        Typically most people spend a shocking 9-12 hours sitting down. Let’s take your typical office worker, they drive to work - sat down, spend their morning in the office- sat down, go to lunch- sat down and then when they head to the gym, what do they do? Sit on machines. Functional fitness requires you to get up, to move in multiple planes of motion. Simply standing rather than sitting increases calorie expenditure and encourages better sugar metabolism.

        You can improve your posture.

        Unfortunately for most of us, the stress of modern life and pressures of our jobs, aren't great for our posture. Ever feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders? A hunched over back and slumped over shoulders are more common than not and it’s not good for our health. Functional fitness focuses on realigning posture by working on muscles slings and how muscle work together. Releasing tension from in the chest for example, can help to draw back the shoulders and correct posture.

        You will burn fat.

        Functional training burns fat. Fact. Incorporating multi-plane, multi-joint and multi-muscle movements means multi-fat burning. Functional training movement patterns crank up your heart rate and keep your body burning lots of calories.

        Touch your toes.

        Can you touch your toes? No? Time to get functional. Functional training can help to develop your flexibility by developing a better range of motion in movement patterns we use in everyday life.The whole point of functional training is to replicate the body’s natural planes of motion. Contracting muscles is one aspect, but it’s equally important to stretch muscles effectively to help increase flexibility.

        It gives your workouts more of a meaningful purpose.

        Whilst training to look good is, of course, of importance, functional training is about more than just looking good, it's about training to improve your life on a daily basis. As we get older, this can have a huge impact. It could be the difference between an elderly person being able to get up on their own, or needing a care assistant. Functional training is designed to improve the little things we do, day in, day out, to keep our bodies young and healthy.

        You’ll be less likely to fall over

        Functional movement incorporate lots of different planes of motion whilst focusing on single leg exercises. This improves balance and proprioception. What does that mean? You’re less likely to stumble over.

        Variety is the spice of life

        Training functionally keeps workouts varied. Instead of being restricted to training one muscle group in particular, training focuses on whole body integration. The possibilities of functional training are endless.

        You’ll get stronger

        Training functionally will produce increases in strength, which can help improve your daily life, from lifting your shopping to picking up children.

        You’ll build more muscle

        Functional training incorporates a variety of different pieces of kit as well as bodyweight, stumulating different muscle fibres and promoting further muscle growth. Lean muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, as well as pulling against the bone to increase bone density.

        Functional Training Round - Up

        • Functional training incorporates weaker muscle groups which are often neglected.
        • Functional training ensures you are fit enough to perform daily activities.
        • Functional training can correct posture and improve flexibility.
        Posted by Victoria Gardner
      3. Functional Fitness

        Movement matters.

        What is fitness without movement? Does how much you can squat matter if you can’t bend over to tie your laces? Can you move your own bodyweight? Could you escape a burning building?

        Functional Fitness

        What is functional fitness?

        Function is defined as “an activity that is natural to or the purpose of a person or thing”.  Functional fitness therefore is being good at what we are naturally meant to do.

        Why is functional fitness important?

        A good level of fitness is important. We know this. Having a good level of fitness promotes better health and a longer lifespan, but why is functional fitness important?

        Because functional fitness trains us for everyday life. Functional fitness trains the body for the stuff we do every day. The stuff we do without even thinking about it. The exercises mimic real life activities and are designed to allow you to perform your day to day activities more easily and without injury. Each exercise focuses on more than one body part – instead of just one muscle – so all of your muscles work together. This is important because all of our muscles depend on each other and are supposed to work together.  By using our muscles together, we become more efficient.

        The four pillars of functional training

        Locomotion

        Come on baby do the locomotion! Whatever you're doing, it will involve moving from point a to point b. Whether it’s skipping, jumping, jogging on running. In most movements where locomotion is required, single leg movements dominate. Functional training therefore includes lots of single leg movements designed to enhance functional movement patterns.

        Level Changes

        In everyday life we are often challenged to move from low to high. From seated to standing, bending over to pick things up and lift things from a to b. A great way to train for this is to vary the angles of your exercises and incorporate movements with level changes such as a single leg deadlift to shoulder press, or crossbody woodchopper, pulling the cable from low to high across the body.

        Push and Pull

        Push and pull movement make up almost every exercise, whether it's pushing and pulling weights, cables, objects or your bodyweight. These two movement patterns are fundamental to functional training. Most functional push and pull movements require you to push and pull whilst standing. So whilst a bench press wouldn’t be functional, a standing chest press using a cable machine would. With pulling motions, you’re typically pulling something towards you, often off the ground, and that’s where bent-over rows come in. Pull-ups are also great for training various grips required for sports, however rows are probably the best functional pulling move.

        Rotation

        Rotation is required in most movements, we bend and twist to pick things up, to get dressed of a morning or to shoot in tennis or rugby.  Rotation accelerates and decelerates movement, cables are great for training with rotation as they add resistance to regular movement patterns.

        What makes an exercise functional?

        An exercise becomes functional when it improves everyday function. If an exercise has a real life equivalent, it becomes functional. Yes, in real life you may not do a lunge with a medicine ball cross body rotation as such, but you may stagger your stance as you catch and twist to throw to another player in a netball match.

        A pistol squat is often declared as a functional exercise, but how often do we squat down on one leg, extending the other in front of us? Not often. However this doesn’t mean the move isn’t functional as what the pistol squat does is takes a natural movement and accentuates it, making it more difficult and therefore forcing the body to improve when it has to recreate a similar movement pattern in real life.

        Let your kids teach you..

        When it comes to functional movements, your kids probably move far better than you. Children typically perform squats and deadlifts without anyone having to show them how and it is as we grow older and become ever more sedentary that these movements become unnatural. The bottom line? … Move like a child and you will move more functionally.

        Functional muscle slings

        When we talk about training functionally, we look at how muscles work together to support entire body movements. This means we look at how muscles connect to form a chain of reactions which create movement, identifying any weak links in that chain can improve performance. When we focus on muscles working together for function, we call these “muscle slings”. You can read about the movement patterns of each muscle sling.

        Adding functional movement to any routine, will help improve your day to day function and keep your training varied.

        Posted by Victoria Gardner
      4. Fitness Testing

        Everyone remembers the dreaded bleep test at school, you’d be winded, huffing and puffing and willing your best friend to give up so you could finish one round ahead of them. Those bleeps aren't the only way we can test our levels of fitness.

        Modern technology as well as traditional testing allows us to get a clearer picture of our level of fitness and identify strengths and weaknesses to help us improve.

        There are hundreds of fitness tests out there, some good, some bad and some ugly. We’ve sifted through the masses to bring you our top fitness assessments.

        Fitness Testing

        VO2Max

        When it comes to fitness, you’ve probably heard of this phrase, it’s hard to avoid the term VO2max if you're interested in exercise, but do you know what it means?

        V02 max is simply your body’s ability to consume oxygen. This is effected by factors such as how adapted your muscles are to exercise and how much blood your heart can pump.

        The most accurate VO2max tests take place in laboratories. Participants are masked up whilst running on a treadmill, with their effort getting progressively more intense. Your oxygen intake is monitored and your VO2 max occurs when the rate at which you uptake oxygen redlines, usually this takes a fast speed, bordering a sprint.

        The units of oxygen are then measure per kilogram of bodyweight and your VO2max is calculated.

        Whilst many new smart watches such as the Garmin 630 provide VO2 max readings, these are only estimates, as they don’t take into account the measure of ventilation, oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air. Whilst they may be a useful guess, don’t get caught up by the value you’ve been given.

        VO2 Max Scores

        Maximal oxygen uptake norms for men (ml/kg/min)

        Age (years)

        rating

        18-25

        26-35

        36-45

        46-55

        56-65

        65+

        excellent

        > 60

        > 56

        > 51

        > 45

        > 41

        > 37

        good

        52-60

        49-56

        43-51

        39-45

        36-41

        33-37

        above average

        47-51

        43-48

        39-42

        36-38

        32-35

        29-32

        average

        42-46

        40-42

        35-38

        32-35

        30-31

        26-28

        below average

        37-41

        35-39

        31-34

        29-31

        26-29

        22-25

        poor

        30-36

        30-34

        26-30

        25-28

        22-25

        20-21

        very poor

        < 30

        < 30

        < 26

        < 25

        < 22

        < 20

        Maximal oxygen uptake norms for women (ml/kg/min)

        Age (years)

        rating

        18-25

        26-35

        36-45

        46-55

        56-65

        65+

        excellent

        > 56

        > 52

        > 45

        > 40

        > 37

        > 32

        good

        47-56

        45-52

        38-45

        34-40

        32-37

        28-32

        above average

        42-46

        39-44

        34-37

        31-33

        28-31

        25-27

        average

        38-41

        35-38

        31-33

        28-30

        25-27

        22-24

        below average

        33-37

        31-34

        27-30

        25-27

        22-24

        19-21

        poor

        28-32

        26-30

        22-26

        20-24

        18-21

        17-18

        very poor

        < 28

        < 26

        < 22

        < 20

        < 18

        < 17


        When it comes to reading your V02max score, the higher the reading, the better.

        Top VO2 Scores

        How do you compare with these famous athletes?

        Athlete

        Gender

        Sport/Event

        VO2 max (ml/kg/min)

        Espen Harald Bjerke

        Male

        Cross Country Skiing

        96.0

        Bjorn Daehlie

        Male

        Cross Country Skiing

        96.0

        Greg LeMond

        Male

        Cycling

        92.5

        Matt Carpenter

        Male

        Marathon Runner

        92.0

        Tore Ruud Hofstad

        Male

        Cross Country Skiing

        92.0

        Harri Kirvesniem

        Male

        Cross Country Skiing

        91.0

        Miguel Indurain

        Male

        Cycling

        88.0

        Marius Bakken

        Male

        5K Runner

        87.4

        Dave Bedford

        Male

        10K Runner

        85.0

        John Ngugi

        Male

        Cross Country Runner

        85.0

        Greta Waitz

        Female

        Marathon runner

        73.5

        Ingrid Kristiansen

        Female

        Marathon Runner

        71.2

        Rosa Mota

        Female

        Marathon Runner

        67.2


        A person who is fit, in the cardiorespiratory sense of the word, would have a higher VO2max than someone who is less fit. However, having a larger VO2max than someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean that you could beat them in a race. It means your body is more able to absorb and use oxygen to generate energy for your muscles, and this will certainly give you an edge, but what you are actually capable of doing with that energy depends on many other factors.

        Sit and rise test

        The sit and rise test looks specifically at musculoskeletal movement as a way to predict mortality.

        Brazilian physician Dr. Claudio Gil Araújo, the developer of the test, says that if you struggle while attempting it, your risk of dying in the next five years may be five times greater than those who do the test with ease.

        How to do the sit and rise test:

        Step 1: Stand straight and barefooted. Without leaning or using support, lower yourself onto the floor into the sitting position with legs crossed.

        Step 2: Stand back up without any support.

        Points:

        You get 5 points for sitting and 5 for standing. Minus 1 point every time you use your hands, forearm, knee, or place your hands on your legs. Minus half a point every time you lose your balance.

        Good: The 8-10 range mean you've got the greatest life expectancy.

        Fair: The 3.5-7.5 range means you've got a problem. You may be twice as likely to die than those in the good range.

        Poor: 0-3 is a warning that, according to the test, you're five times more likely to die in the next six years than those in the good range.

        The good news is that you can improve your score. Every point you move up the scale reduces your risk of death by 21 percent, according to Araújo's study. So get moving and exercising.

        DNA testing

        Developments in technology have led to fitness testing via DNA tests. Users are sent a swab which they wipe with their saliva and then send back. These tests claim to analyse your genes to determine what type of exercise and diet is best suited to you (or so they say). Depending on the provider and the chosen test, anywhere between five and thirty genes are tested for common variations known to impact on exercise and/or weight management.

        The variations you are found to have can tell you what your body responds best to in terms of endurance versus power exercises, your rate of recovery following exercise, how well your body utilises carbohydrates or fats, and even your likelihood of being lactose or gluten intolerant.

        Whilst these brands offer a great insight into how your genetics affect your fitness, this is very much an evolving industry and there is not enough conclusive evidence to support their accuracy as of yet. The DNA fit website states: “"DNA testing for nutrition and fitness is an emerging science. Knowledge is evolving rapidly but is still far from complete. DNAFit prides itself on basing its genetic analysis and recommendations on the best science available, but that science is dynamic and may not always be conclusive. DNAFit may benefit some people more than others, and in some cases possibly provide no benefit."

        Wattbike 3 minute test

        The latest Watt bikes offer a 3 minute aerobic test to monitor your fitness. During the test the aim is to ride at a pace you can maintain for 3 minutes. A more advanced cyclist will be good at pacing, but for beginners try not too start to strong and use all your power in the first 20 seconds, 3 minutes is a lot longer than you think when you're trying to go as fast as you can!

        Following the 3 minutes the Wattbike will be able to tell you:

        • MMP - This is the maximum amount of power you can produce per minute.
        • MHR - This is your maximum heart rate. For training zones see here
        • Power to weight ratio - Per every kilogram of weight how much power you can produce. This is a fairer way than who can lift the heaviest weight.
        • VO2max estimate - As mentioned above you VO2max is the maximum amount of Oxygen you can uptake.
        • METs - Represents the intensity of the test.

        The sit and reach flexibility test

        The sit and reach test uses flexibility as a basis for judging your level of fitness. The test measures the flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings. Tightness in this area is associated with lumbar lordosis, forward pelvic tilt and lower back pain.

        How to do a sit and reach test:

        1. The participant warms up for 10 minutes and then removes their shoes.
        2. The measurer secures the ruler to the box top with the tape so that the front edge of the box lines up with the 15cm (6 inches) mark on the ruler and the zero end of the ruler points towards the athlete.
        3. The participant sits on the floor with their legs fully extended with the bottom of their bare feet against the box.
        4. The participant places one hand on top of the other, slowly bends forward and reaches along the top of the ruler as far as possible holding the stretch for two seconds.
        5. The measurer records the distance reached by the participant’s fingertips (cm)
        6. The participant performs the test three times.
        7. The assistant calculates and records the average of the three distances and uses this value to assess the athlete’s performance.

        Scores:

        Rating

        Males (cm)

        Females (cm)

        Excellent

        >70

        >60

        Very good

        61-70

        51-60

        Above average

        51-60

        41-50

        Average

        41-50

        31-40

        Below average

        31-40

        21-30

        Poor

        21-30

        11-20

        Very Poor

        <21

        <11


        The vertical jump test

        The vertical jump is a measure of fitness through explosive power in the legs. The test is really simple to complete, to set up all you need is a wall and a tape measure. Start by getting the participant to stand next to the wall and stretch their closest hand up as far as they can and make a mark of this point. This is the standing height. The participant then leaps as high as they can in the air and touches the wall at the highest point of their jump. The distance from the start point to the highest point is then measure as your score. Take the test 3 times and take an average for the most accurate results.


        Vertical jump test scores


        Rating

        Males (height in cm)

        Females (height in cm)

        Excellent

        >70

        >60

        Very good

        61-70

        51-60

        Above average

        51-60

        41-50

        Average

        41-50

        31-40

        Below average

        31-40

        21-30

        Poor

        21-30

        11-20

        Very poor

        <21

        <11

        Cooper run test

        The Cooper run test is one of the most popular fitness tests used to determine aerobic endurance. It is also used as part of military training, with different scores being required to make the different roles entry requirements. The test lasts just 12 minutes and participants are required to run as far as they can for the entire duration. The test can also be used to measure VO2 max using several equations (in ml/kg/min) from the distance score (a formula for either kms or miles):

        VO2max = (35.97 x miles) - 11.29

        VO2max = (22.35 x kilometers) - 11.29

        Cooper run test scores

        Age

        Very Good (metres)

        Good

        (metres)

        Average

        (metres)

        Bad

        (metres)

        Very Bad

        (metres)

        13-14

        Male: 2700m +

        Female:2000m+

        2400-2700


        1900-2000

        2200-2399


        1600-1899

        2100-2199


        1500-1599

        2100-


        1500-

        15-16

        Male: 2800+

        Female: 2100+

        2500-2800

        2000-2100

        2300-2499

        1600-1899

        2200-2289

        1500-1599

        2200

        1600

        17-20

        Male: 3000+

        Female: 2300+

        2700-3000

        2100-2300

        2500-2699

        1800-2099

        2300-2499

        1700-1799

        2300-

        1700-

        20-29

        Male: 2800 +

        Female: 2700+

        2400-2800

        2200-2700

        2200-2399

        1800-2199

        1600-2199

        1500-1799

        1600-

        1500-

        30-39

        Male: 2700+

        Female: 2500+

        2300-2700

        2000-2500

        1900-2299

        1700-1999

        1500-1899

        1400-1699

        1500-

        1400-

        40-49

        Male: 2500+

        Female: 2300+

        2100-2500

        1900-2300

        1700-2099

        1500-1899

        1400-1699

        1200-1499

        1400-

        1200-

        50+

        Male: 2400 +

        Female: 2200 +

        2000-2400

        1700-2200

        1600-1999

        1400-1699

        1300-1599

        1100-1399

        1300-

        1100


        The bleep test

        The bleep test is old school. The test involves 20m shuttle runs from two marked points. The aim is to reach the cone before you hear the bleep. As the test continues, so the frequency of the bleeps increases, with the time between getting shorter and shorter. The test requires a cd and the score is then measured depending on how many rounds you last.

        Bleep test scores


        men

        women

        excellent

        > 13

        > 12

        very good

        11 - 13

        10 - 12

        good

        9 - 11

        8 - 10

        average

        7 - 9

        6 - 8

        poor

        5 - 7

        4 - 6

        very poor

        < 5

        < 4


        Whichever test you decide to do, don’t just do it once and leave it at that. In six weeks time, hit it again, has your score improved? Fitness tests are a great way of monitoring your progress and seeing if your training is actually working. Fitness tests make goals measurable, if you can’t measure it how are you going to know how to celebrate when you’ve smashed it?

        Posted by Victoria Gardner