If you've been training hard but not sure whether you're getting fitter, you need to do a fitness test. But there are so many out there, which one is best? We take a look at 3 different fitness tests as a way to track your fitness.
The Astrand Treadmill VO2 Max Test
This test is fairly advanced and is good for people who are already fit and active and would like a quantitative assessment of their fitness that they can compare to others. This VO2 Max Test is a universal test, so you could have all your friends or club members do it and compare your results.
For this test, you will be jogging on a treadmill. Start with the treadmill at a gradient of 0% and a speed of 8km/h. After three minutes, increase the incline to 2.5% (keep the speed the same throughout the entire test). After another 2 minutes, increase the incline by another 2.5% and repeat every 2 minutes until you cannot run anymore. Write down the time you finish.
In order to get your results, input your time into the following equation:
(Time x 1.44) + 14.99
For example, say you are a 35 year-old male and you make it to 15 minutes and 15 seconds. That is 15.25 minutes, so you would calculate:
15.25 x 1.44 = 21.96
21.96 + 14.99 = 36.95
Therefore, your VO2 Max would be 36.95
To find out how your score stacks up, use the following charts:
So our example 35 year-old male who got a score of 36.95 is at a 'fair' level of fitness. He could follow a training regime for a number of weeks and then repeat the test to see in clear numbers if his fitness has increased or not.
This test is fairly advanced and is not suitable for pregnant women, those who cannot run, or those with health conditions.
Chair Sit Test
Dr Michael Mosley has been making waves recently with his BBC programme 'The Truth About Getting Fit'. In his programme, Dr Mosley showed one way you can easily test your fitness in the comfort of your own home and it's suitable for people of all ages. The test simply asks how long it takes you to sit down in a chair and get back up again 10 times. Men under 35 should be able to do it in under 10 seconds, with women under 35 aiming for under 12 seconds. Men aged 35-55 should be able to do it in 13 seconds with women aiming for 15, and people over 55 should be able to do it in under 19 seconds.
This is obviously a very broad and unspecific test, but if you live a sedentary lifestyle and are looking for somewhere to start, this is an easy test to give you an idea of where you stand.
Vertical Jump Test
Our final test is different yet again. This time, we are testing the power in the legs, which is another great way to test fitness. If you want to be fit all-round, you need to have strength, power, and stamina. The vertical jump test is very easy and you only need one thing: a measuring tape.
Stand next to a wall, and jump as high as you can while reaching upwards. Have a friend mark the wall where you managed to touch, and then measure the height. This is your score.
Why is it important to do fitness testing?
There are several reasons why you may want to do a fitness test. You may feel like you live a healthy lifestyle, but there is no way for you to know for sure until you do a fitness test. If you live a largely sedentary lifestyle, your health could be at risk, so doing a fitness test could help to determine whether you need to get more active.
For those who are already very active, doing a fitness test is a great way to see if your training and hard work is paying off and you are actually progressing. If you see that you are not, you will know to change up your exercise regime so that you do get fitter.
Of course, it always depends on your goals, so make sure you set some goals first before you embark upon a fitness journey.
The weather is certainly feeling colder, but that doesn't mean exercise has to move inside. Training outdoors has lots of great benefits. Sundried ambassador Heather Taylor gives us a list of the extra benefits you gain when exercising outside during winter.
It’s good for your mind and your body
A large study found that outdoor exercise is associated with increased energy and revitalisation, as well as decreased confusion, anger, depression and tension, when compared to exercising indoors. Outdoor participants also reported enjoying their workouts more and said they were more likely to repeat them than participants who trained inside.
It may make you feel better about yourself.
No need to feel self conscious outside, regular outdoor exercise has been proven to boost your self esteem.
Soak up the sunshine benefits (even in winter)
When the sun hits the skin, it creates vitamin D3 which is important for bone health and metabolic function. Extra exposure to sunlight during the day can also help you sleep better at night, improve immune function, and increase endorphin production.
You can burn more calories when you exercise outside
Resistance to the wind when running or cycling outdoors means you often burn more calories than if you were indoors and hills/uneven ground make your body work harder as it has to respond to the unknown.
So there's a few reasons to put on a few extra layers and keep moving. Why not take a look at Sundried's range of winter activewear to kit you out for the winter months? Such as compression base layers, hoodies, and long-sleeved training tops.
About the author: Heather Taylor is a personal trainer, triathlete, and Sundried triathlete.
We are forever being told we need to get fit and the question on everyone's lips is 'how do I get fit?' We look at what it means to get fit and all the ways we can get there. Your go-to guide for all tips to get fit.
What's Covered in this post
- How long until I get fit?
- How long does it take to get unfit?
- Could you be fit and fat?
- What is fit?
- Testing VO2 Max
- Cardio respiratory fitness
- Muscular strength
- Muscular endurance
- Body Composition
How long until I Get Fit?
This question is one that most people will ask at one time or another, especially if they are keen to lose weight, tone up, and are working hard to achieve this. We all want to know when we’re going to see results, but unfortunately there is no clean cut figure which we can place on our fitness. We can, however, predict general patterns, though it is important to consider that everyone’s starting level of fitness differs and therefore so will the duration of time it takes to get fit.
Asking how long it will take to "get fit" is a difficult question to answer as it is not quantitative; there is no template to say what is and isn't 'fit'. Results can be seen as little as a few days, but typically it takes a few weeks for your body to adapt to new stimuli, whether that’s diet, training, or both. This is why if you don’t see results in the first week, you shouldn’t feel disheartened.
Typically, the most measurable results follow after a minimum of 6-8 weeks. There is a common saying that it takes 4 weeks for you to see your body changing, 8 weeks for friends and family, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world.
The best way to determine how long it will take you to get fit is by setting fitness goals. You can also undertake fitness testing by doing physical fitness tests like a VO2 max test. There are other ways to test your fitness such as the sit and reach test or Astrand treadmill test.
Testing VO2 Max
Your VO2 max is an indication of how much oxygen your body can uptake during exercise. You can do several gym-based tests to determine your VO2 max. Alternatively, smart watches such as the Garmin Forerunner 235 running watch can calculate your VO2 max based upon your performance whilst wearing the watch. If running is not your thing, the Wattbike also calculates your VO2 max based on your performance during cycling.
Time trial Ideas
Time trial inspired fitness rulers are great for those who lack the technology to test VO2 max, as they are accessible to all. One example could be completing as many reps as possible of an exercise, for example burpees, in 2 minutes, or running a particular distance and measuring the improvement in time. Remember those awful beep tests at school? That’s just another fitness test and let’s face it you probably pushed that bit harder not because your PE teacher was shouting at you, but because there was an opportunity to beat your mates at something.
How long does it take to get unfit?
According to Dr. Edward Coyle, director of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Texas, in highly-trained athletes, VO2 max decreases by 7 percent in the 12 to 21 days after stopping training and another 9 percent during days 21 to 84.
So after just 3 weeks of inactivity, your fitness could decrease by up to 20%.
VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. It is measured in millilitres per kilogramme of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min).
Can you be fit and fat?
Being thin on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean you are fit or healthy on the inside. Whilst getting fit should be about maintaining the ideal weight for your height, it’s possible to have a healthy BMI and be unfit. You have to work at your fitness, it really is a 'use it or lose it' scenario.
“Can you be fit and fat?” was a question posed by Professor Steven Blair of the University of South Carolina. For eight years, Blair and his team studied the health of nearly 20,000 men between the ages of 30 and 83. He put them through complete physical assessments including treadmill tests for cardiovascular fitness and body composition assessments. The results concluded that fitness turned out to be a far more reliable predictor of health and longevity than either weight or BMI.
Unfit men with BMIs of less than 27 had a death rate that was 2.8 times greater than men with BMIs of 30 or higher (considered obese) who were moderately fit.
Blair also published a study on the role that fitness vs. fatness, or higher BMI, plays in women’s long-term health. Among 9,925 women who had been patients at the Cooper Clinic at the Cooper Institute, moderately fit women of all weights averaged a 48 percent lower risk of dying prematurely (from all causes) than unfit women. Highly fit women (those who could walk longest on the treadmill) had the lowest risk of premature death of all, nearly 60 percent lower than thin but unfit women.
What is Fit?
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, physical fitness is defined as "a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity."
There are 5 recognised main components for fitness:
Cardio-respiratory fitness refers to how well our bodies can supply fuel during physical activity via our circulatory and respiratory systems. Any activity which increases your heart rate for an extended duration of time will help to improve your cardio-respiratory fitness. Exercising increases cardio-respiratory endurance in a number of ways: the heart muscle is strengthened so that it is able to pump more blood per heartbeat whilst at the same time additional small arteries are grown within muscle tissue so that blood can be delivered to working muscles more effectively when it’s needed. Cardio-respiratory fitness has been found to help ward off the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, type 2 diabetes and stroke, among other diseases.
The US Department of Health and Human Services defines muscular strength as "the ability of muscle to exert force during an activity."
Generally, muscular strength is measured via comparing a person's ability to lift or push a given weight against the ability of the general population to do the same. If a muscle is worked consistently, it should increase in strength.
Related: How To Get Stronger
Muscular endurance is similar to muscular strength, but requires the ability to repeatedly execute strength. What do we mean by this? Whereas with muscular strength luck or adrenaline may push you through a single lift, here it’s how long you can keep going before your muscle tires.
Muscular strength training induces hypertrophy (muscle building), whereas muscular endurance requires a different energy system, which can last for longer.
Body composition refers to the levels of muscle, bone, water and fat that make up your body. Two individuals who weigh the same could have completely different body compositions, which is why there is so much debate whether BMI is accurate as it only considers weight against height.
People with a high muscle mass will weigh more than those who are the same height with the same waist circumference because muscle weighs more than fat. The most accurate way of measuring body composition is through water submersion, and measuring volume and disposition. This is a long, tedious process and for most of us is inaccessible.
There are some smart scales and body composition monitors available on the general fitness market and whilst the accuracy of scales such as these often comes under scrutiny, it still gives the user a good idea of their body composition.
Flexibility is defined as the range of motion of your joints or the ability of your joints to move freely. It also refers to the mobility of your muscles, which allows for more movement around the joints. Flexibility can be increased by a variety of activities designed to stretch joints, ligaments and tendons such as stretching, foam rolling, and yoga.
There are three types of exercise that are generally utilised to increase flexibility:
- Dynamic stretching: the ability to complete a full range of motion of a particular joint. This type of flexibility is used in standard "warming up" exercises as it helps ready the body for physical activity
- Static-active stretching: holding the body or part of the body in a stretched position and maintaining that position for a period of time. One example of static-active stretching is doing the splits
- Ballistic stretching: only to be used when the body is already warmed up and limber from exercise, it involves stretching in various positions and then bouncing while holding the stretch. Some governing health bodies, including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, believe that ballistic stretching can cause injuries.
A combination of these 5 elements will make a good overall level of fitness, although some may excel at some principles and not others. Fitness is largely subjective and it is important to balance good fitness and health.
To “get fit”, focus on any of the areas above which are weaker for you personally and work to improve them while also setting goals so that you know if you are making progress.
Summer is finally here, which means it’s the perfect time to exercise outdoors! Outdoor workouts are great because you can bathe in the glorious sunshine and reap the extra health benefits of the vitamin D exposure from the rays. Getting active in the sun can be social too; get your friends or family to join you so that you can all get fit together! No more hours spent staring at a blank wall in the gym, it’s time to get out there and learn to enjoy moving again!
This outdoor workout can be done anywhere and doesn’t require any equipment so you can do it whenever the mood strikes. Maybe in your garden, while the kids play, or maybe in the park with your friends. Always remember to warm up properly before a workout and stay hydrated by always having a water bottle with you.
The first round is a small circuit comprising of 5 exercises. Aim to complete each exercise for 60 seconds with no rest. If you are a beginner or you have an underlying injury, take it at your own pace and rest whenever you need. If you want more information on how to do an exercise, click the name of the exercise.
The second round is based on a Tabata style of HIIT training. HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and is a great way to burn fat and get fit. Tabata consists of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest, and you can repeat that as many times as you like with as many different exercises as you like. In this workout, you'll be completing 8 rounds (1 round = 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest) to last 4 minutes with all different exercises. Go straight from one round to the next until you are finished.
Your final round is based more on body-weight strength training. You don't need equipment to have a good workout! Complete 3 sets of 10 reps on each of the following exercises with 30-60 seconds of rest in between each one. This is a full body workout which will target every muscle group. Take the exercises slow and perform each repetition with care, focussing on the muscle under tension.
Well done for completing the Sundried Summer Workout! On completion of this workout, you should really be feeling the effects! If not, you can either work harder or make the exercises tougher! Remember, exercise is supposed to make you feel good about yourself, and you should fuel your body with nutritious food afterwards. If you find a particular workout boring, don't make yourself suffer by doing it! Find something you love, and you will find that staying fit has never been so easy.
When you're trying to lose weight, not seeing results can be very frustrating. These three fitness mistakes are making you gain weight.
1. Using food replacement supplements
We've all been tempted by them at one time in our lives. There are so many on the market, from Slim Fast to Herbalife, it seems like there's a quick fix and we want to take it. However, food replacement supplements are the worst thing you can take in your efforts to lose weight. Not only are they bad for your bank balance, they're bad for your waist line. Food replacement supplements work on the logic that if you are restricting your calories, you will lose weight. While this is completely true, the shakes and bars that you consume on these diets are full of sugar and lack essential nutrients which will leave you feeling tired, moody, and can even give you bad skin.
It is always better to get your calories and nutrients from real food, only taking supplements if you really need to on top of an already balanced diet. By reducing your calories from real food, you can easily lose weight without suffering from mood swings and having to buy expensive supplements.
2. Not tracking your food intake
We can all be guilty of being 'secret eaters'. At the end of each day, if you were to try to remember every single thing you ate that day it would be almost impossible. There will always be one biscuit or cake that slips through the net that you forget about. It's also easy to make excuses for yourself in order to eat more than you realise, such as "I have a cold" or "it was my co-worker's birthday". Your portions may be a lot bigger than you realise unless you weigh your food. By tracking your food as you eat it and weighing your food, you are taking the guess work out of losing weight and you are far more likely to succeed.
Let's take oven chips (french fries) as an example. Next time you put your favourite oven chips onto the tray, weigh them before they go into the oven. Chances are, it'll be two or even three times as much as is recommended. This happens easily and frequently and is definitely a reason you're not losing weight. Weighing your food may seem a bit neurotic and take a lot of effort, but it doesn't take long and will be worth it in the long run. Below is what 200 calories of oven chips looks like on a small plate. It's not much! And these are fairly skinny fries, if you enjoy those big chunky oven chips you'll end up with only around 10 on your plate!
3. Drinking too much alcohol at the weekend
For a lot of people, being healthy ends on Friday. We want to relax after a long week at work and rightly so! We go out for dinner and drinks and forget about all our stresses, but this is when you'll end up undoing all your hard work from the week. Alcoholic drinks are full of sugar and calories and by knocking back a few glasses of wine, pints of beer, and pitchers of cocktails, you will be consuming a lot more calories and sugar than you realise.
You probably wouldn't eat 3 cheeseburgers in one sitting, but you wouldn't think twice about drinking 6 beers on a night out. Try to limit how much you drink on the weekend, and limit dining out and takeaways to just one per weekend. This may seem stingy, but if you are truly committed to losing weight and getting healthier, it's a compromise you'll be willing to make.