Are You MH Fit? Take The Test!
DIfferent experts will have different definitions of fitness. That’s because the way you define the word depends on the type of performance you expect. Some athletes need to develop a particular type of fitness over all others – bodybuilders on one extreme, marathoners on another – but most of us are at our best when we achieve a balanced fitness.
|Below average:||You take more than 12 minutes to run 2.4km|
|Average:||10:30 to 12min|
|Above average:||9 to 10:30min|
|MH FIT:||9min or less|
Get into a basic plank position, with your weight distributed across your forearms and toes. Your arms should form right angles at the elbows, and your feet should be placed hip-width apart. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders, and not bent inwards.
|Below average:||You hold a plank for less than 1 minute|
|Above average:||1 to 3min|
|MH FIT:||More than 3min|
There are a whole bunch of exercises that target the core, such as the V-shaped jackknife, leg raise (lying down) and plank leg raise. If these core trainers bore you, try Mok’s personal favourite, the inverted V stability ball push-up.
Adrian Mok, 36, 175cm, 67kg
With a personal best time of 10h 23min for the world- famous Ironman endurance race, Adrian Mok ranks as one of Singapore’s top Ironman triathletes. His longest ever run was a 168km lap around Singapore – that’s four consecutive marathons. “I’m more of a long-distance athlete,” Mok says. “Over short distances, I’m really not that fast.”
Well, he has managed to pull off a 3:09 marathon, and scaled the 73 floors of the 1999 Westin Vertical marathon in 6min 56sec (the world record is 6:45). In our book, that’s pretty fast. Mok attributes his massive cardio capacity to his triathlon-style training plan. He has a tough six days- a-week schedule, which sees him swimming 11/2 hours’ worth of interval laps on Mondays, biking 72km in a little over two hours on Tuesdays, and running 10-minute max-intensity tempos, gruelling circuits and half-marathons throughout the rest of the week. “Biking and swimming helps to build cardiovascular ability without the impact of running,” Mok says. “It’s helped to keep me relatively injury-free through these years.”
A powerful upper body is essential for speed climbing. Power is a measure of how fast you can exert the strength you possess, says Oh Paul Wee, head and senior performance conditioning coach from the Singapore Sports Institute, Singapore Sports Council. However, to increase power, you first need a solid base of strength. And a good test of your base upper-body strength is the pull-up.
Grab a pull-up bar using a shoulder-width, overhand grip. Hang at arm’s length. Pull your chest up to the bar by visualising your shoulder blades coming together and cinching down on a credit card, advises Oh. Pause for 1 second, then slowly lower your body back to the starting position and repeat. A repetition counts only when you start from a dead hang with your arms straight.
|Below average:||You do fewer than 3 pull-ups|
|Average:||3 to 7 pull-ups|
|Above average:||8 to 10 pull-ups|
|MH FIT:||Over 10 pull-ups|
When you’re strong enough to do 15 to 20 pull-ups easily, you can try moving on to executing the movement in an explosive fashion. However, be warned that it exposes you to a higher chance of injury if you’re not ready. Also, explosive movements generate a lot of momentum, so your body will be swinging quite a bit, says Oh. Grab the pull-up bar as you would normally, and contract your arms and back forcefully to bring your chin above the bar as quickly as you can. Now pause, and lower yourself in a controlled fashion. Try to do 5 good repetitions. Once you get used to the movement, try pulling your body up until the bar reaches your nipple level.
Stand with the tips of your toes behind a line on the ground. Your feet should be slightly less than shoulderwidth apart. From this position, swing your arms backwards as you crouch, then thrust your arms forward as you jump as far as you can. Land on both feet; otherwise the jump doesn’t count. Practise a few times to warm up, and then give it your best shot. Mark the spot where your heels land (mark the shorter distance if one foot lands behind the other), and try a few more times. Measure the distance from the starting line to the spot where your heels hit on your best jump.
|Below average:||You jump less than 1.8m|
|Average:||1.8m to 2.1m|
|Above average:||2.1m to 2.4m|
|MH FIT:||More than 2.4m|
Muhammed Hazlee, 25, 1.85m, 67kg
This is vertical sprinting – a controlled explosion to the top. A World Cup speed climbing wall is 15m high and features a route that is graded around 6C – fairly hard for an average climber, even if it’s at a controlled pace. Competing in knockout fashion in pairs, a participant needs to explode up the wall, remember where to place his feet, block out his competitor’s stomping footsteps, and keep on going until he hits the buzzer at the top.
Muhammed Hazlee, project manager of Climb Asia (climb-asia.com) and a 10-year climbing veteran, flits up such a wall in less than eight seconds. “Speed climbing is about explosive power and hand-and-leg coordination,” he says. A speed training session actually mimics competition climbing. As the event tends to finish in a few hours, speed climbers tend to meet tougher competitors the further they advance. “We train at a very high level of intensity, and aim to push that level even higher as the session progresses.
Hazlee credits explosive pull-ups as the most important exercise for speed climbing. After a thorough warm-up, his main set consists of explosive pullups to failure – that’s pulling yourself far up enough until the bar reaches your lower chest. Sets on the campus board (an apparatus with wooden rungs meant to be climbed only with your arms) are also part of his repertoire. The latter is essential to teach you how to rein your body in when it swings out of alignment.
He also does interval sets on a 15m to 20m climbing wall that keeps getting faster. “I’ll set a target to reach the top in, say, 10 seconds, and keep aiming to go faster all the time,” he says. It’s not all about muscling your way up, though, as this constant movement is also a mental conditioning exercise.
Lie on your back on an exercise mat, with your knees bent, and feet flat on the floor close to your buttocks, or raised up on a bench. Clasp your hands behind your neck to support the weight of the head, without pulling on your neck. Slowly curl up with your shoulders, then your upper back, to no more than 30 degrees, while feeling the tension in your abs. Hold your position momentarily, then lower the torso. Repeat the movement without resting, and avoid jerking when performing each crunch.
|Below average:||You're unable to complete 3 sets of 20 crunches without muscle failure.|
|Average:||You complete 3 sets of 20 crunches without muscle failure.|
|Above average:||You complete 3 sets of 30 crunches without muscle failure.|
|MH FIT:||Complete 3 sets of 50 crunches without muscle failure|
To improve your crunches, do crunch drills, says Lee. Break your drills up into 1 minute, 30 second and 15 second intervals. First, do as many crunches as you can in a minute. Then, rest for 3 minutes, and do as many as you can in 30 seconds. After that, rest for another 3 minutes, and go all out again for 15 seconds. This is 1 set. Do at least 3 sets at a go, with 2 days’ rest between each workout. Gradually, as your core strengthens, do your crunches with weight plates or dumbbells.
Test 6: The Bench Press
In bodybuilding, although the extent to which you train every single muscle in your body counts, it’s your upper-body muscles that can score you the most points in a competition. Says Lee: “Judges expect you to show off your upper-body muscles– especially your chest and arms – and they look at criteria such as muscle development, maturity, density, symmetry and proportion.” And to be able to sculpt an impressive upper body, you need to develop power in those muscles, so that you’ll be able to lift massive loads to put on the bulk.
To determine your bench press max, you’ll need a spotter. An average person should be able to bench press at least 50 per cent of his body weight. If you’re able to bench 3 sets of 15 to 30 reps, at 20 to 40 per cent of your body weight, you’re above average. And, if completing 3 sets of 15 to 30 reps, at 50 per cent of your body weight, is chicken feet for you, you’re MH Fit! Then, you may want to have a go at Lee’s standard: Bench 1.5 times your body weight with 3 sets of 15 to 30 reps – but be careful not to overstretch yourself.
|Below average:||You bench less than 50 per cent of your body weight (1-rep max)|
|Average:||You bench 50 per cent of your body weight (1-rep max)|
|Above average:||You bench 3 sets of 15 to 30 reps, at 20 to 40 per cent of your body weight.|
|MH FIT:||You bench 3 sets of 15 to 30 reps, at 50 per cent of your body weight.|
If you’re stuck bench-pressing the same weight, you’ve probably worked your pectoralis major so much that your small, stabilising muscles – your rotator cuffs and the muscles around your neck and shoulder blades – aren’t working well enough, says Micheal A. Clark, US-based fitness trainer. To get out of the rut, after your bench press routine, do 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps of the Swissball incline push-up (with hands on the ball and feet on the floor), and another routine of Swissball decline push-ups (with feet raised on the ball and hands on the floor), resting 60 seconds between sets. While doing the push-ups, keep your quads and glutes tight, and pull your navel towards your spine. You should see up to a 15 per cent gain in chest strength in 4 weeks. If you’re new to weight lifting, do only the first exercise after you bench press; and do both if you have some experience.
Augustine Lee, 57, 1.80m, 103kg
Bodybuilding may be a narcissistic sport, but it isn’t all about vanity, says Augustine Lee, a well-known competitive bodybuilder and director of Fitness Factory. “Like any other sport, it’s also a test of one’s determination, discipline and drive,” he opines. After spending nearly 30 years in the sport and having won numerous accolades, Lee knows nearly everything there is about bodybuilding.
Many people think the sport is about developing only certain parts of the body to look good, but that’s a misconception, according to Lee. “To become a world-class bodybuilder and win international awards, you’d need to build full-body strength and power, work on your cardiovascular endurance (to be able to perform more reps), and pay attention to your diet and nutrition,” he says.
His daily routine consists of 3 hours of resistance training on various muscle groups in his body, and a 30-minute run on the treadmill. “Bodybuilding is about total fitness,” he emphasises. “To be a champion, you cannot just focus on one part of your body, or on one aspect of fitness.”
HOW STRONG ARE YOU?
Test 7: The Push-Up
A professional muay thai match is made up of five rounds of three minutes each. And to be able to come out tops after those rounds, a fighter would not only need endurance, but also total-body strength. Former muay thai world champion (who retired undefeated) and Evolve Mixed Martial Arts instructor Yoddecha Sityodtong says: “To defeat your opponent, you’ll need a lot of power in your kicks, punches, knee-butts and elbows. And that requires you to train every muscle in your body.”
Assume a push-up 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 ankles. Lower your body until your chest is around 2cm above the floor, pause for 1 second (this is essential) and then return to the starting position. Complete as many consecutive push-ups as you can while maintaining strict form.
|Below average:||You do fewer than 15 push-ups without resting|
|Above average:||30 to 44 push-ups|
|MH FIT:||45+ push-ups|
Load a barbell and set it on the floor. Stand over the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward. Bend at your hips and knees, grab the bar overhand with your hands just outside your legs, and roll it up to your shins. Push your hips back, flatten your back, and tighten your entire body from feet to hands. Pull the bar straight up until you’re standing upright with the bar against your thighs. Lower it to the floor, keeping it as close to your body as possible. Start with a light weight to warm up, and then add weight for each subsequent lift until you reach your maximum.
|Below average:||You lift less than your body weight|
|Average:||You lift 1 to 1 1/4 times your body weight|
|Above average:||You lift 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 times your body weight|
|MH FIT:||You lift more than 1 1/2 times your body weight|
Yoddecha Sityodtong, 32, 1.80m, 82kg
Former muay thai world champion Yoddecha Sitydotong – who retired undefeated – has built a reputation in professional fighting circles for spending the first round “feeling” his opponent, and the second pummeling the contender into submission. “Every fighter has weaknesses,” he says. “When I get into a ring, before my opponent can figure out what my weaknesses are, I hope to have landed one of my trademark high roundhouse kicks!”
Yoddecha credits his fighting prowess to training. “There is a saying where I come from: Train hard, fight easy,” he says. “I train very hard because it gives me confidence, which is important once you’re in the ring. It comes from knowing that you did your homework. If you did not do your homework properly, then you will succumb at critical moments in a fight.”
Yoddecha trained six hours a day, six days a week in the period leading up to a fight. “It took me about two months to get into championship-fighting shape,” he says. The fitness level, fighting skills and techniques that he builds up during training is not just to last a fight, but also to defeat his opponent.
“A typical training session for me included fighting for about 30 rounds at 5 minutes a round, with a minute’s rest between rounds. On top of that, I also ran 20km to 30km every day. As a cool down, I will do 200 push-kicks, 300 situps (with someone punching me in the stomach), 200 pull-ups and 200 pushups,” he says.
When Yoddecha competes, he wants to overwhelm his opponent. After fighting professionally for over 20 years, he has stockpiled an arsenal of devastating moves. “The most dangerous weapon in muay thai is the elbow. I have knocked out opponents using spinning, flying and jumping elbows, as well as just regular elbows,” he says.
Latest Fitness Stories
These ladder drills are for those who are serious about becoming fitter and burning more fat.
This guy in his 30's refused to settle for a dad-bod: here are his results.
How many push-ups can the Sunwolves Rugby player do in a minute?
Here's how to make yourself committed to your workout regime by setting goals, engaging trainers, or getting buddies.
It doesn't get more garang, or inspirational than this.
- 1 of 267