How Fit Are You

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  • 7/31/2019 How Fit Are You


    How Fit Are You? 3 Simple Tests to Find Out

    Ask 10 experts for their definition of fitness, and youll hear 10 different answers. Thats because

    how you define the word depends on the type of performance you expect. Some athletes need to

    develop a particular type of fitness over all otherspowerlifters at one extreme, marathoners atanotherbut most of us are at our best when we achieve balanced fitness. In other words, were

    good at everything a healthy, active man needs to be able to do.

    On these points the experts agree: You need core stability. You need lower-body strength and

    power to run, jump, and lift heavy objects off the ground. You need torso strength to lift your own

    body weight in repeated challenges. And you need enough endurance to run a mile without stopping

    for defibrillation.

    Thats why we asked our experts to create seven fitness tests that will help you assess the shapeyoure in. Start with the three challenges below, which measure core and upper-body strength

    areas guys generally care about most. (You can see all 7 fitness tests inAre You MH Fit?) But don't

    just do these exercises once; make them part of your regular workout and you'll quickly broaden

    your shoulders, build your biceps, and chisel your torso. And become as fit as you've ever been.

    Try the fitness challenge to find out how strong you are.

    And dont aim for average. Keep working at these exercises until you're not just fit, but Mens Health

    Fit. Let the games begin.

    Fitness Test #1: Core Stability

    Fitness begins in the middle of your body. Thats also where it ends, if your core isnt strong and

    stable. Not only do the muscles in your torso defend your spine against unwanted movementsthe

    twists and jolts that produce injuriesbut they also enable the movements you do want. Theyre the

    linchpins that allow coordinated actions of your upper- and lower-body muscles.

    So well start with the plank, a fundamental test of core stability and endurance. The average guy

    should be able to hold a basic plank for 60 seconds, says strength coach Nick Tumminello. If you

    aspire to be Men's Health Fit, you should be able to do a more challenging version for the same

    amount of time.
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    Youll need something long, solid, light, and straight, like a broom

    handle or dowel. Assume a basic plank position, with your weight resting on your forearms and toes.

    Your body should form a straight line from neck to ankles. You want your feet hip-width apart and

    your elbows directly below your shoulders.

    Have a friend set the dowel along your back. It should make contact at three points: the back of your

    head, between your shoulder blades, and your tailbone. Hold that position. Stop if your body loses

    contact with the dowel at one of these three points.

    If you can hold your position for 60 seconds, stop and rest for two minutes. Then do the plank with

    your feet on a bench. (You wont be able to use the dowel, because it will slide off.)

    Nailed it? Rest two minutes and try this version: With your feet back on the floor, move your arms

    forward so your elbows are beneath your eyes instead of your shoulders. If you can hold this one for

    60 seconds, congratulations: Youre Men's Health Fit.

    Planks are a big part of the2012 Spartacus Workout, which readers are calling their favorite workout

    ever. The best part is its simplicityall you need are dumbbells, a stopwatch, and some serious grit.

    Are you tough enough to try it?


    Below average: You cant hold a basic plank 60 seconds

    Average: You go 60 seconds

    Above average: You can hold a plank 60 seconds with your feet elevated on a bench

    Men's Health Fit: You can hold a plank with your arms extended for 60 seconds

    How to push past a fitness plateau.

    Fitness Test #2: Pushups

    The bench press is the best size- and strength-building exercise for your chest. And yet the lowly

    ground-based pushup actually works more muscles, even if it doesnt allow you to hit certain ones

    with maximum intensity.
  • 7/31/2019 How Fit Are You


    Like the bench press, the pushup works your chest, shoulders, and

    triceps to exhaustion. Its also a core exercise, forcing muscles in your abdomen, hips, and lower

    back to work hard to keep your spine in a safe position. But the biggest benefit of the pushup may be

    the way it forces the web of muscles surrounding your shoulder blades to man up and support your

    shoulder joints, which can become dysfunctional on a steady diet of bench presses.

    This test, courtesy of Martin Rooney, one of the world's top strength and conditioning coaches, may

    be humbling for you, particularly if youre at your best with your back on a bench and a barbell inyour hands. Assume a pushup position with your hands directly below your shoulders, your feet hip-

    width apart, your weight resting on your hands and toes, and your body in a straight line from neck to


    Lower your body until your chest is about an inch above the floor, pause for 1 second (this is

    essential), and then return to the starting position. Complete as many consecutive pushups as you

    can while maintaining strict form.


    Below average: Fewer than 15 pushups

    Average: 16 to 29 pushups

    Above average: 30 to 44 pushups

    Men's Health Fit: 45+ pushups

    Fitness Test #3: Chinups

    Just as the bench press has replaced the pushup in many exercise programs, so has the lat

    pulldown replaced the chinup. And thats a shame. Both exercises hit the featured muscles in the

    upper and middle backthe lats, lower trapezius, and rear deltoidsbut the chinup goes lower and

    deeper. Because youre hanging from a bar rather than sitting on a padded seat, you force muscles

    in your middle back to work with the muscles in your hips and lower back to keep your spine in a

    safe position.

  • 7/31/2019 How Fit Are You


    Chinups are a great test of upper-body strength and endurance,

    core stability, and spinal stabilization, says Mens Health advisor Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S.,

    coauthor ofThe New Rules of Lifting for Abs. Pulldowns are certainly easier, but as with so many

    things in life, limited effort produces limited rewards.

    Grab a chinup bar using a shoulder-width, underhand grip. Hang at arms length. Pull your chest up

    to the bar, pause for 1 second, and then slowly lower your body back to the starting position and

    repeat. A repetition counts only if you start from a dead hang with your arms straight.


    Below average: Fewer than 3 chinups

    Average: 3 to 7 chinups

    Above average: 8 to 10 chinups

    Men's Health Fit: More than 10 chinups

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