Not feeling on top of those fitness goals you had back in January? 12WBT’s Fitness Lead Tim Pittorino shows you how to get back on track.
Believe it or not, New Year is not a good time for resolutions. January and February are typically busy; kids are well and truly back at school and it is easy to fall into a routine where you feel you have no time, no energy and the idea of taking steps to improve your health sounds exhausting.
We don’t achieve the health goals we set ourselves because we don’t put in place a practical plan to achieve them.
Yes, we’re already two-thirds through 2017 – but why not make this your time to get serious about achieving those health goals?
First, set some S.M.A.R.T goals
At 12WBT we always talk about the important of having goals that are S.M.A.R.T:
Not fluffy! Be crystal clear about what you want to achieve, i.e. “I want to be able to run 5km without stopping.”
Get all the cold hard numbers so you can monitor progress. Get on the scales, take measurements, check in with your doctor for blood pressure and cholesterol.
Achievable: Your goal needs to be one that you are capable of achieving given your job and family commitments. If you say “I’m going to lose 8 kilos in the next 12 weeks” that is achievable. If you say “I’m going to lose 15 kilos in three weeks”, that’s not achievable in a safe way.
Realistic: Having a realistic goal is different to having an achievable goal. Realistic goals are sustainable. You might set yourself the achievable goal of losing 8 kilos in 12 weeks, but your methods for reaching that goal might be unrealistic. For example, if your goal was to lose 8 kilos in 12 weeks by just doing yoga twice a week, that’s probably an unrealistic goal.
Be honest with yourself and determine how likely you are to be able to sustain your approach to your goal for your time period. There are 24 hours in a day, so it’s easy to achieve two hours of training in a day if you did nothing else, but is two hours of training a day realistic for you with everything else you have to do?
Time-Based: Once you’ve set your goal need to draw up a day-by-day, week-by-week plan to make it happen.
Now, measure your current fitness levels
If your goal for 2017 was something along the lines of “In a year’s time I want to be fitter and healthier than I am now” (a common ambition!) then first you need to consider what that means. You need to begin by measuring what state your health and fitness is now.
1. The strength test
To assess strength, do a push-up test: see how many push-ups on your knees you can do in 1 minute. This exercise tracks your upper-body strength and must be executed with perfect technique. You need to make sure your abs are pulled in, that you elongate your neck by tucking in your chin, and also that you are looking at the ground as your chest lowers to 10cm off the ground.
Your test results will improve with regular training:
- Beginner: 20 push-ups or less
- Intermediate: 21-30 push-ups
- Advanced: 31+ push-ups
If you can do 31 or more push-ups on your knees, you should be doing push-ups (and planks) on your toes!
2. The cardio test
For assessing your cardiovascular fitness, I recommend doing a 1km running trial. You can either do two and a half laps of your typical 400m oval or you can mark our 1km with your car and retrace the route.
Here are some benchmarks for you:
- Beginner: 1km in over 8 minutes
- Intermediate: 1km in 5.5 to 8 minute
- Advanced: 1km in under 5.5 minutes
3. The flexibility test
For flexibility, the universal test is the sit and reach. Sit with your legs extended and see how far you can reach towards your toes or if you can go past them. This exercise accurately assesses lower back and hamstring flexibility. If you rate well on this scale, then chances are you won’t have lower back problems.
12WBT categorises the sit and reach like this:
- Beginner: -5cm or lower
- Intermediate: -4cm to +5cm
- Advanced: +6cm or higher
Once you have your benchmarks and have them written down in a place you can easily refer to them (not a scrap of waste paper!) you need to decide what you want to achieve.
Even the smallest improvement on your strength, flexibility and cardio from this time last year and you’ll already be on your way!