Challenge #1: Turkish Get Ups with 1/2 Bodyweight x 5 reps
The ultimate full body exercise for stabilisation and mobility. If you want to bomb proof your body against injury then this is the exercise to master.
Rumour has it that ancient greeks were not taught to strength train with any extra load until they could get off the ground with that same weight held over head.
By completing this test the young Greeks were able to demonstrate their ability to dynamically stabilise the weight before moving onto more prime mover based exercises. This is a lesson that is so often ignored as newcomers get injured diving into the weight stack without ensuring their body has adequate stability before they start.
Challenge #2:Â Push Ups x 100 reps
The Push Up is so much more that just a horizontal pressing movement, it’s a huge core stabilisation exercise too. It’s always interesting to see big bench pressers perform a push up, the core is always quick to collapse and sag. I like to think of the Push Up as a moving plank from the hands.
Ensure that you utilise as much muscle as you can by corkscrewing the arms inwards and pulling yourself down with your lats. The lowering part of the movement (eccentric) should be slow and controlled and the pushing up (concentric) phase should be fast and explosive. You can also add a Push Up plus to the top of the movement to work on the scapular.
Challenge #3:Â Pistols Squats x 10
You can’t find a better single leg exercise for working on pure single leg strength, mobility and stability. The Pistol or One Legged Squat requires good balance, excellent mobility at the hips and ankle, and brute strength in the glute, quad and hamstring.
Research shows that the Glute Medius, a very important hip stabilisation muscle, is more active in the Pistol than any other exercise, beating the clam and others hands down. For those who struggle with balance a counter balance weight can be held in front or a TRX can be used for support.
Challenge #4:Â Chin Ups x 20
This powerful exercise is where many people struggle, there is huge core integration along with scapular stability and brute pulling power. Common problems seen are a craning of the neck, over active traps that create a hunching of the shoulders, and using momentum by kipping.
To perfect good Chin Ups you can regress the movement by using bands attached to the bar and under one foot. Keep the movement strict, use the lats to pull you up by thinking about protecting your armpits, go all the way down to the bottom but don’t let your shoulder blades drop by keeping everything packed and keep the chest high at the top. Don’t crane your neck to get over the bar.
Challenge #5:Â Deadlift at twice bodyweight x 1 rep
The real big boy of strength training. Uses practically every muscle in the body and strengthens the posterior chain that is so good for posture as well as performance.
I managed to achieve my Deadlift record by sticking to the classic 5 x 5 once and occasionally twice per week. So that’s 5 reps and 5 sets. I increased the weight by 2.5 – 5kg each week.
Remember that the Deadlift is called a Deadlift because it is pulled from the ground from a dead position. So in theory you should be performing 5 x 1 reps. I always deadlift in barefeet and drive heavily through the heels.
I never use straps, if my grip strength is not ready then the rest of me is not ready either, we all work together.
Challenge #6:Â 2000M Row in Under 7 mins
I’m very particular when it comes to cardiovascular training, not because I don’t like it but more because I don’t like to waste time. This indoor rower workout is excellent for improving your cardiovascular strength and anaerobic threshold.
Rowing is an often neglected exercise and very powerful to counteract all the slouching and anterior based workouts that are so common.
A good rowing technique heavy works the quads, glutes, core and back. I like the scapular retraction benefits of the movement. Give this challenge a go, the last time I completed it my legs were like jelly and I staggered around the gym grabbing hold of things to stop my falling over!
Challenge #7: OneÂ Mile Run (under 4 minutes)
I know what you are thinking, that’s a ridiculous challenge. But it’s interesting to note that when Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile back in 1954, he not only broke a record but a psychological barrier. Many thought it was not possible but following Rogers achievement many people followed in quick succession.
This challenge like all the others ARE possible, you just need to be committed and have a progressive plan. Start with a 6 or 7 minute mile, then set yourself progressive targets and see how close you can get. I’m not saying you will make 4 minutes but use it as a target.
You will be amazed at how quickly your time improves if you run consistently. Ensure you rest well and warm up well prior to each attempt. Wear a heart rate monitor and monitor your progress as your anaerobic threshold improves.
These fitness challenges were chosen because they utilise exercises that I believe improve your general health and fitness. They can all be achieved with dedication and a progressive goal setting plan. Now select one and get started.
Have you tried any of these exercises? Love to know how you got on below…