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The Art of Movement Edition 55: Easy Testing Part 2 - How Fit Are You Really?

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Edition 55 - Easy Testing Part 2: How Fit Are You Really?

Okay, so let’s recap. Last week we talked about the importance of simplifying your process in the gym, having a clear understanding about your training objectives, and ensuring that the exercises you perform in the gym are relevant to your goal and actually create the physical adaptations you are seeking. The confusion many people have is that they might achieve lean muscle by training aerobic endurance, get stronger by training hypertrophy or get bigger muscles by training muscular endurance. It is crucial to get it right by carrying out the correct activities in the correct way, otherwise we may be wasting our time in the gym in terms of reaching a training goal (but I would caveat that with - all exercise is great, so even if you’re getting it wrong in terms of specificity, well done for even exercising in the first place!).

Here’s a reminder of the ‘buckets’ that need filling (the ones in bold were covered in last week’s edition). I will summarise what each of them is, and provide you with a simple test (or more) to help you establish where you currently stand in each component of physical fitness. You can then decide for yourself whether you are as proficient in a given area as you would like to be, or whether you need to redirect your training efforts to emphasise a certain aspect more:

The Buckets That Need Filling 1. Skill 2. Speed 3. Power 4. Strength 5. Hypertrophy 6. Muscular Endurance 7. Anaerobic Capacity 8. Vo2 max/Aerobic Capacity 9. Steady state

5. Hypertrophy - Muscle size/mass. Not to be confused with muscle strength! Think of hypertrophy as a strictly material quality, it is just how much muscle there is (although increasing hypertrophy might allow us to access gains in strength. What does filling this bucket look like? Lifting moderately difficult weights (around 50-70% of 1 rep-max) for roughly 3-5 sets of 8-15 repetitions. How to measure where you’re at: FFMI is your Fat Free Mass Index, which you can calculate here - - before measuring, you will need to know your exact height, exact weight, and body fat percentage. Many gyms now have Dexa scanners or Tanita scales you can use to get a fairly accurate estimation of your body fat % and get a result for your FFMI calculation. Your ideal FFMI score should be:

Male: FFMI Body fat Description 17-18 10-18% Skinny 18-20 20-27% Average 19-21 25-40% Excess Body Fat 20-21 10-18% Athlete / Intermediate gym user 22-23 6-12% Advanced gym user 24-25 8-20% Bodybuilder / Powerlifter / Weightlifter Female: FFMI Body fat Description 14-15 20-25% Skinny 14-17 22-35% Average 15-18 30-45% Excess Body Fat 16-17 18-25% Athlete / Intermediate gym user 18-20 15-22% Advanced gym user 19-21 15-30% Bodybuilder / Powerlifter / Weightlifter 6. Muscular Endurance - The ability of your muscles to continue firing repeatedly at the required work rate for extended volumes of work. Remember, nothing to do with how strong you are, or how big or visible the muscles are.

What does filling this bucket look like? As many reps as possible in an exercise up to about 75% 1RM.

How to measure where you’re at: Plank - Front plank: 60 sec minimum Side plank 45 sec minimum Push up - Male: 25+ reps ideal (minimum 10) female x 15 reps ideal (minimum 5) NO PAUSES ALLOWED Alternatively, if you cannot do a press up - this indicates from the offset you have a strength deficiency, so you cannot use it to test endurance. Instead, pick the same exercise you might use for a strength test (eg. deadlift, bench press, squat), but only load to 70% of your 1RM, and complete as many reps as possible - minimum of 8 reps. 7. Anaerobic Capacity - Your maximum output for very short, intense bouts of work where our energy is not derived from oxygen. It is all about our uptake and re-uptake of ATP - our main store of energy at a cellular level.

What does filling this bucket look like? Sprinting as hard as possible (running, bike, rower) for 5-30 secs for a varying number of intervals (usually anything between 1-10) until near exhaustion. How to measure where you’re at: - Wingate test - Test recovery abilities:

Target: HR drops half a beat every second: eg. Every 30 secs drops 15 beats, every 60 secs drops 30 beats. Any worse than that = suboptimal

Rower - 100m sprint intervals with 60 sec rest between sprints, going as hard as possible. Measure your sprint time and observe your rate of drop off. Stop when your sprints have dropped off by about 20% (eg. Fastest 20 sec sprint has turned into 25 secs after 7 sprints). 8. Vo2 max/Aerobic Capacity - This is the one most people will think of as 'cardiovascular' fitness. It is essentially how far we can go with our lungs, to the fullest extreme. You might be able to run a long way (like a marathon), but that doesn't tell us how 'fit' you are, because you are pacing yourself through that marathon and purposefully running at a speed that doesn't push you beyond your lactate threshold (which would draw you to fatigue and make you stop early). What does filling this bucket look like? Roughly 20 minute bouts of exercise (running, rowing, cycling etc.) which begin gently, but gradually push you closer and closer to a dark place, where you are struggling to keep up with speed.

How to measure where you’re at: VO2 Max test: Coopers run: 12 minutes - maximum distance covered. Run as far as you possibly can in those 12 minutes. Nothing more. You can find a rating for your distance below:

9. Steady state - This is simply your ability to work continuously for an extended period of time without stopping. You aren’t getting stronger, building your muscles up, improving your fitness capacity or explosiveness, you are just training your body’s capacity to do something for a long period of time. This is why when you go and watch a marathon, you will see runners of all shapes and sizes and body types, because there is no real physical prerequisite to completing an endurance event (with no specific time goal) other than to just be able to keep going without your body completely breaking. What does filling this bucket look like? A slow steady jog/run.

How to measure where you’re at: Can you consistently maintain work without stopping for 20 mins, no intervals or downtime? Additional challenge - Can you do it nasal breathing only? SO. How full are your buckets? Get in touch with your results, thoughts, questions, and let me know how you got on!

“If you never test yourself, how will you ever know what you're capable of?” -

Movement of the Week:


That’s all for this week! Check out my Patreon channel for video episodes, on-demand workouts, training programmes, training guidance/advice and more! Thank you, Gabriel

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