Physical Fitness Exercises
By Robert Reames, CSCS, *D, RTS1, CPT
The following exercises are a great way to get moving as a family. The Penningtons and the Halls, the two families competing in the Family Weight Loss Challenge, performed these activities in their first physical fitness competition. They require only a few pieces of equipment for you to get started. Complete each exercise and then try the exercises again in a week. See if you can do them faster and better as the weeks progress.
These are initial fitness tests that assess baseline fitness levels for endurance, speed, strength, flexibility and balance. This is valuable information to have at the onset of your fitness program. You can use these tests to continually evaluate your progression in these areas. It's fun and rewarding to see your improvements as you continue to raise the bar and constantly increase your fitness level. As your fitness level increases the pounds just keep coming off, bringing you closer and closer to your realistic goals!
These fitness tests/assessments are designed so that you can create and perform these tests virtually anywhere, including your own backyard, at anytime with minimal equipment necessary. The only equipment that you need is a stopwatch, (a watch with a second hand will do,) a standard chair, a solid wall and a yardstick. You'll need a tape measure and or your car odometer as well, to measure off the walking and speed tests if you are not at a pre-measured track or field. For the medley relay and obstacle course, you will need a football, a basketball and a jump rope. Remember to time each activity so you can compare your times when you repeat the events at a future date.
**Remember, these are assessments of your current fitness level. Use good sense and be mindful not to exceed your limitations on any given day or time. If you feel pain at any point during the testing/assessment, discontinue activity immediately. Pain is your body's method of communication. Safety is always your number one concern in any fitness activity.
Listed below are the testing events, the components of fitness that each test evaluates and brief instructions on test administration.These are fun, creative ways to challenge yourself physically, get the whole family involved and create yet another benchmark from which to improve upon. These events require both physical effort and some simple sport skills.
The Family Medley Relay consists of four legs. The first thing you want to do is measure off some distance to create a "track." The size of your track will depend on how much space you have available. There is no set distance. However, the key is to be able to recreate this track again when it comes time to re-test, so you'll want to get an accurate measurement. The tests with the two families was conducted on a basketball court inside a gym. One suggestion is going to a school or park that has a playground with a basketball hoop.
The goal in this relay is to finish all four legs of the relay as quickly as possible. Record the time it takes to finish the relay. If you have more than four members in the family competition, then get creative and think of some fun and challenging legs to add to this relay.
- Leg One: Power Walk
Walk as fast as you can over the distance of the track you have created.
- Leg Two: Tight Rope
The challenger has to complete the distance around the track while walking on the line as if it were a tight rope. Each step must touch the line. If the challenger falls off the line they must get right back on where they fell off. Cover the distance as quickly as possible.
- Leg Three: Basketball Dribble
The challenger must cover the entire distance around the track while dribbling a basketball with one hand and holding a baton in the other. If the challenger loses the ball, they must retrieve it and proceed where they left off.
- Leg Four: Full Power Sprint
Run as fast as you can around the distance of the track you have created.
This course also consists of four stations. These stations require some specific skill along with aspects of physical fitness. The idea is to finish the course as a team as quickly as possible. Each team member will line up underneath and behind the basketball backboard facing toward the court. After each challenger finishes their task then they must come back to the line and tag the next challenger. Record the time it takes to finish the relay.
Again, if you have more than four members in the family competition, then get creative and think of some fun and challenging legs to add to this relay.
- Station One: Jump Rope
The challenger will jump rope 25 times. This is a basic jump rope using two feet.
- Station Two: Basketball Shot
The challenger must throw a basketball into a hoop from four feet away.
- Station Three: Football Throw
Use tape to create a square on a wall or fence. From a distance of eight yards away, the challenger must throw the football and hit inside the square.
- Station Four: Cone Run
Set up six cones (you can use any object to mark set points) in a zigzag four yards apart in opposite directions. The challenger must run through the course and touch all six cones and return back to the finish line, touching all the cones again.
One Minute Push-up Test
This exercise tests your upper body strength/muscle endurance. You'll need a solid wall and a watch for this testing event. Begin by standing up straight facing the wall and placing your palms on the wall with arms fully extended. From this position move your feet back 12 inches. Your heels will be slightly off of the ground at this point. Draw your navel in towards your spine to keep your torso stable. (Do not let your midsection waver around.)
Begin with your arms straight and bend your elbows to 90 degrees on the push-up and return to the straight arm position. Do not lock the elbows. You should already be warmed up from the previous two events, but still do a couple of practice push-ups then begin the test. The objective is to do as many push-ups as possible during the one-minute period. Be sure to get your entire body involved in the push-up and not just the upper body. Record the total number completed in one-minute.
One Minute Squat Test
This exercise tests your lower body strength/muscle endurance. You'll need a standard chair and your watch for this test. Begin by standing directly in front of the chair, as if you were going to sit down, with your feet firmly planted slightly further than shoulder width apart. Stand nice and tall with your arms folded in front of your chest. Simply squat down to where your glutes (bottom) barely touch the chair and return to the starting position. Make sure that your toes are pointed forward and that your knees track directly over your second toe. You will be warmed up from the previous tests, but still do a couple of practice squats and then begin the test. Repeat as many times as possible in one minute. Record the number of squats.
*Do not bend your knees beyond 90 degrees. Also, do not exceed a range of motion that is painful for you.
One Mile Walk Test
This exercise tests endurance/stamina. This test can be done at a pre-measured track like you would find at a school, health club or YMCA. You may also use any open space like a large parking lot, a park, a city block, a building or a tennis court (23 times around equals one mile.) If you use a space that is not pre-measured, you need to measure the distance using a tape measure or a car/bike odometer. You'll need a stopwatch or a watch with a second hand to record how long it took you.
The objective of the test is to walk the distance as quickly as possible, walking only. If you need to stop along the way to rest or if you need to stop all together, that's OK. If you cannot make the entire mile, then record how far you walked and how long it took you.
Your warm up for this test should include stretches for the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and chest area. Take a few minutes to do some exaggerated, large walking steps and some high knee lifts.
Again, these test/assessments can be done periodically to track improvements in your fitness level. As your fitness level increases, new possibilities for new and different fitness activities become open to you. The sky is the limit. You may find yourself doing things that you haven't had the ability or stamina to do in 20 years! Who says that adults should not participate in physical fitness? Stay active! The quality of life that you will experience will astound you. Find your activity — find your game. Enjoy and have fun!!