Since benchmarking my fitness against the tests in the previous post, I’ve focused on:
- Improving my best-effort one and half mile.
- Press-ups according to the technique in the previous post
- Sit-ups according to the technique in the previous post.
- 500 metre row
How am I tracking progress?
I’m using a simple Google sheet to manually plug in my numbers each time I do exercise. Here’s what it looked like for Week 1:
Improving my best-effort one and half mile
I’m pretty excited about doing this one. I’ve run a lot of miles since May this year but I haven’t really been seeing any improvements in pace. I’m always hovering around the 9min 30sec/mile pace for 3.5 miles. I’m hoping that by using the treadmill to get faster over shorter dosctances such as 1.5 miles, I’ll get baseline quicker.
I bust a gut to hit that 13min mark for the 1.5miles in the benchmark exercise and I’m really hoping to break 12mins in this event before the end of the month. I did that on Week 4 with an 11:50min. That’s a hard run! I want to break 11mins now. And then 10:30mins because 10mins is considered ‘Excellent’ by Men’s Health (see the previous post for the link). I think it’s doable in a month or two!
(A note post-new-lockdown: my gym is now closed in line with the national lockdown. So that puts treadmills out. I ran outside for the first time since starting this experiment, and my pace was significantly faster. Beforehand, I would be doing around 9min 30 secs per mile, and now I’m doing around 8min 30 secs per mile pace. Speedwork on the treadmill really does have an effect. To do this, I recommend cranking the pace up on the treadmill to almost as fast as you can go and try to hold that pace for as long as possible. Try for a minute, then two minutes, then 3 minutes. Try to make your sprint finishes longer and longer. Try to beat your times every session on the treadmill.)
These Royal Marine-style press-ups are hard! Try it, especially if you’ve been doing them with a wide grip all your life like I have. At shoulder-width apart, these feel like my hands are almost touching each other.
In 6 weeks, I’ve gone from 20 to a best-effort maximum of 40 press-ups. The final 10 press-ups of that set were pretty slow going but 40 is 40!
According to the Coach Mag article from the previous post, 50 and above is considered Excellent. My target is to do 60 is one smooth go, and with strict form. I think that’s fully doable in a month or two!
My first benchmarking effort on this was 27 sit-ups in 1 min 10 secs. By the end of Week 6, I got to a best-effort maximum of 45. The execution of these 45 was very similar to the press-ups execution above, with some pretty slow and strained situps towards the end!
From the Mayo Clinic article in the previous two posts, I should score around 37 situps in a minute for my age. My target is now 85 as I’ve seen that’s a benchmark for the Royal Marines, and also because I’ve exceeded the Mayo Clinic’s benchmark. I think 85 should be doable in a couple of months!
This didn’t see as much of an improvement as the other metrics. My initial benchmark in Week 1 was 3 pull-ups and I never got above 4 pull-ups for a maximum effort.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been on the pull-down machine instead, doing 3 x sets of 75kg. My bodyweight is 80kg, so I need to be able to pull down 80kgs to be able to pull myself up better. Or I need to shed a few kgs! Probably a combination of both.
My target is 12 proper pull-ups. I think that should be doable in about 3 months, once lockdown ends and I can get back into the gym.
I started with a 1:01min best effort plank in my initial benchmark and I got to 1:30min pretty quickly by the end of Week 1. More than 2 mins is Excellent according to Coach Mag so I stopped there and focused on the other metrics above.
This was hard. My initial benchmark was 02:08mins. (I don’t seem to have updated my tracking spreadsheet beyond Week 1 – oops. But by the end of Week 1, I got to 01:57mins, which is just squeezing into the Average bucket according to Coach Mag. (I will get back on this once gyms open up again)
I’ll report back with an update in a few weeks.