HOW(UN)FIT ARE YOU?
Judging your fitness doesn’t have to involve a costly consultation at the local gym. Here are two simple checks that you can do in your own living room - just feet from your favourite armchair - to give you an instant measure.
1. Check Your BMI
Okay, the BMI (Body Mass Index) is something of a contentious issue as it can’t necessarily be reliably applied to everyone. Effectively, you’re cross-referencing your weight against your height, and the resultant ‘score’ suggests whether you’re under- or over-weight. However, an element of commonsense has to be applied because, with muscle weighing more than fat, those who are incredibly muscular (such as body builders or pro rugby players) can be incorrectly categorized as ‘obese’. Of course, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know whether this applies to you, and for Average Joe it’s a reasonable measure of whether you need to bulk-up, or stop eating in bulk.
So grab the bathroom scales, a pen, paper, and probably a calculator. The calculation is your weight (in kilos) divided by your height in metres squared (that’s weight / height x height). Then check your score against this chart:
Under 18.5 You’re a whippet, in fact underweight.
18.5-24.9 Spot on, champ.
25-29.9 Easy on the biscuits, you’re officially overweight.
30-34.9 Call weight watchers, this is class 1 obese.
35-39.9 Call Channel 4, you’re material for prime time shock TV.
2. Simple Strength Tests
Give the missus your stopwatch, she’s going to time you… twice. Firstly, do as many push-ups as you can do in a minute. Then take a rest (as long as you need) before launching into as many sit ups as you can do in a minute.
Check your score against this chart:
Sit ups Push ups Classification
20 10 Not even sportsman, very poor
30 20 Yeah, okay, sportsman then
40 30 Good, solid clubman
50 40 Expert, but you can’t brag
60 50 You’ve just zero’d the tight check!
NB: If it helps to know, the TBM office is certainly lacking in athletes. JB checked himself on these measures to find that yes, he’s overweight and while not exactly dreadful on the strength test he’s a few ‘ups’ short of even making Sportsman. JB’s planning a year of action to try and turn this around (we’ll see how he goes...)
If you only work on one thing this year, make it your core strength - the strength of the muscles in your body’s trunk. You might pump-up your arms or thighs, but it’s core strength that will save you from an awful lot of potential injury. By keeping your trunk strong you’ll be able to maintain the standing ‘attack’ riding position all race long, allowing you to absorb those impacts and shocks as the bike bounces down the trail. With so many of us trapped behind a desk for eight hours a day, then laying across the sofa of an evening, core strength is sadly lacking in the modern western man. Check online, or get a decent book on fitness, to sort out some solid core strength exercises.
You’ve got a group of mates together and you’re ready to do some circuit training. What to do? Here’s roughly what the Boot Camp boys did in 45 minutes:
5 mins: Warm-up - walking, jogging, side skip at intervals in a circuit
5 mins: Flexibility - arm circles, ankle rotations, hip rotations, neck stretching
25 mins: Program of sit-ups, slide sit-ups, dorsals, push-ups, V-sit crunches, squat thrusts, squats and dips, interspersed with short runs and hop-up hop-downs on tractor tyres between each exercise
5 mins: Warm-down jog, walking and skipping in a circuit
5 mins: Stretches, working on neck, shoulders, back, hamstrings, thighs, etc