As much as I would like to say that I am physically fit, I would be lying to you.
I’ve been using my years as a full-time desk jockey as an excuse for my expanding waistline and have come to the realization that I really need to improve my level of fitness. Not only do I want to be physically fit just for myself, I’ve also got two young sons that I want to be a role model to and that includes proper health and fitness.
Over at Men’s Health they are currently running a challenge that asks: Are you Men’s Health fit?
The MH Challenge includes five fitness tests from the world’s top trainers that are intended to measure your strength, speed, endurance and desire. It is free to sign up and join the community of guys (assuming the ladies would be welcome as well) who are testing themselves. In addition, they are providing a 6-week program of simple workouts, weight-loss advice and daily tips on technique. If fitness is not enough to motivate you, they are also giving away one video iPod every day for 100 days.
There are five fitness tests included as part of the challenge: single-leg squat, 1-mile run, vertical jump, chinup and pushup. Each test is scored between 2 and 8 points with the maximum score being 40 points to be considered MH fit. You get 10 points just for trying and according to the Fitness Calculator, I scored 16 points (using my assumptions as I haven’t performed any of the tests yet) and am considered average.
Here is a little bit of background on each of the tests and what is considered “average”, “fit” and “MH fit”:
The single-leg squat is intended to measure not only your strength but the tremendous amount of core control required to complete the movement. To be considered MH Fit you must be able to do 5 or more reps, 3 reps indicates you are Fit, 1 rep is Average and 0 reps is Out of Shape. Given that I have never attempted this movement, I counted 0 reps for myself.
The mile is a good barometer of your overall fitness and requires power, stamina and determination. The MH Fit man can complete the mile in less than 6 minutes, Fit in less than 7 minutes, Average in less than 8 minutes and anything over 10 minutes is Out of Shape. While I’ve run a mile before, it has been some time and I hate to admit that my time was up in the 10-12 minute range.
The vertical jump demonstrates your power and athletic ability. MH Fit level is above 24 inches, Fit is between 19-24 inches, Average is between 16-18 inches and less than 16 inches is Out of Shape. To be honest, I have no idea what my vertical jump is but considering that I am an overweight man in my 30’s I felt it was safe to assume that I was below 16 inches.
The chinup is a great measure of strength, primarily in the back. To be MH Fit you must crank out 9 or more reps, 8 reps for Fit, 4 reps for Average and 0 reps for Out of Shape. I’ve been guilty of focusing my strength training on the front muscles as I can bench press well over 300 pounds but the last time I tried a chinup I wasn’t able to crank out even one single rep with good form. I’m sure the excess weight around the middle doesn’t help either as that is all dead weight to lift up.
Similar to the bench press, pushups are a very common exercise to measure your level of strength. MH Fit equals 49 or more pushups, Fit equals 35-49 pushups, Average equals 20-34 pushups and anything below 20 pushups is Out of Shape. Given my focus on bench press, I am actually pretty good with the pushups and can crank out more than 50 in one sitting.
I’ve been guilty of having the perception that because I can bench press over 300 pounds that I am considered to be fit. I’ve also been guilty of trying to rationalize that I am just a “bigger” guy but the fact of the matter is that I am out of shape and I need to challenge myself to improve my fitness.
As my 32nd birthday is approaching in less than a month, I figured that now is the time to get serious about improving my fitness and will try to use these five tests as a measurement of my progress. On the agenda is an appointment at the doctor to get an overall assessment of my health and have my cholesterol, blood pressure and blood tested. I’ve had some spotty family history as my maternal grandfather passed away as a result of diabetes and my paternal grandmother has had very high cholesterol for quite some time.
Personally, I’ve always been one to stay away from the doctor and do not like to take any type of medication. But with my family history, I figured it was important to have things checked out and I owe a bit of gratitude to Melanie over at Dietriffic as well as her recent series of posts on diabetes has motivated me:
I encourage all of you to stop by the Men’s Health Challenge and test your own level of fitness in each of their five tests.
If anyone is interested in a fun little challenge, we can have our own little challenge to measure our current level of fitness and monitor our progress over the coming months as I plan to provide regular updates on how I am doing.
Who is interested?