By Justin Mistry, AWC Personal Trainer
The Fall semester is upon us! That means getting back to a full and structured school schedule. Whether you are new or returning to Centennial College, you will most likely come by the Athletic and Wellness Centre at one point or another. So let’s get back to school and back to basics!
So what are the basics to fitness? The Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP) has outlined 11 components of physical fitness, 5 health-related components, and 6 performance-related components (Table 1). This article will focus on assessing and training the health-related components of physical fitness to help you build on the basics of fitness and health.
For body composition there are many ways to be assessed. The first two that you can measure with a friend are Waist/Hip Circumference and Body Mass Index (BMI). For waist circumference, use a measuring tape to measure the torso circumference around the top of the hip bone (iliac crest) and to assess hip circumference, measure the circumference around the largest part of the buttocks.
To measure BMI simply divide your body mass in kilograms by the square of your height in meters (BMI=kg/m2). BMI is best measured on untrained individuals, or on individuals who are just starting out on a fitness program. The reason for this is that BMI only takes total body mass into account; BMI can become skewed when assessed on an individual with high levels of muscle because muscle is more dense than fat.
The second way to measure is using a Bioelectrical Impedance Analyser (BIA). The way a BIA works is by sending a light electrical current up through one arm/leg to the opposite arm/leg. A BIA can measure body fat percentage, muscle mass percentage, and total body water percentage in under 2 minutes. Be sure to ask a Wellness Coach to help assess your body composition through BIA.
In the Athletic and Wellness Centre (AWC) at Progress Campus there are a variety of ways to train your aerobic fitness but only a couple of ways to assess your aerobic fitness on your own. The 1-mile (1.6km) walk consists of 10.4 laps on the inside lane of the indoor track in the AWC, the goal of this assessment is to walk as fast as you can without stopping, jogging or running. Once you have completed your 10.4 laps, immediately record your post-test heart rate and record your time. Next, take your post-test heart rate and walk time to an online calculator such as ExRx.net to calculate your VO2 Max. VO2 Max is the measurement of maximum oxygen uptake by an individual during intense exercise; it is measured in milliliters of oxygen per minute per kilogram of body weight.
Both muscular strength and endurance exercise can be linked depending on the level of training an individual has gone through. Assessments such as maximum repetitions of push ups and chin ups require both a blend of strength, endurance, and technique. To perform the push up assessment begin with hands underneath the shoulders, and the body in a straight line (also referred to as “high-plank position”). Perform as many unbroken repetitions as possible, bringing your chest as close to the floor as possible. Note both depth of push up, number of repetitions, and any pain you experienced.
For the chin up assessment, grab the designated chin up grips, or, if using a straight bar, grab the bar with a shoulder width grip with your palms facing you. Next, allow your body to hang from the bar with straight arms, and then pull yourself up as high as possible, returning down to a hang with control. Note both range of motion of your chin up, number of repetitions, and any pain.
A third assessment to measure your strength is for grip strength and involves the use of a grip dynamometer. Be sure to ask a Wellness Coach for assistance and instruction of technique to perform this assessment.
To test muscular endurance you can use two assessments, one core assessment and one lower-body assessment. The first assessment you can perform is the plank; hold your body up in a straight line with only your forearms and toes in contact with the floor. Have a partner time and watch you perform the plank, stopping the time if they see your hips rise, drop, or rotate.
The second assessment is a Squat to Chair, performing as many repetitions of body weight squats to a chair in a row as possible. Try to choose a chair or bench that allows you to have a 90° bend at the knees when seated in the bottom of your squat.
There are two flexibility assessments designed by Functional Movement Systems (FMS) that can be used as reliable assessments; the first is the FMS Shoulder Mobility, which requires a tape measure, the second is the FMS Single-Leg Raise, which requires a wooden dowel. For assistance performing these two assessments, please consult an AWC Wellness Coach.
Now that we have discussed self-assessment for five health-related components of fitness, we will discuss ways you can train on your own towards improving both health and performance-related components. To get the best bang for your buck a full-body workout may be the way to go for those new to training in a gym. Full-body workouts will allow you to practice and perfect technique for a variety of foundational movements (Table 2) with frequency while also using the same overall volume per muscle group per week as a body-part split.
|Foundational Movement||Progression #1||Progression #2|
|Squat||Goblet Squat||Barbell Squat|
|Lunge||Split Squat||Reverse Lunge|
|Hip Hinge||Romanian Deadlift||Full Deadlift|
|Push||Inclined Push Up||Push Up|
|Pull||Cable Standing Row||Cable Standing Single-arm|
|Loaded Carry||Farmers Walk||Single-arm Farmers Walk|
When designing your own full-body fitness program always remember that movement mastery is the key to a long and sustainable program. Your workouts do not need to change every week, and you do not need to be in the gym for multiple hours. In order to manage time, we will go through an outline of a workout. First, get yourself warmed up, this can be done through 5-10 minutes of light cardio and stretching. Then, write down 4 of the 7 foundational movements. Next, decide what kind of volume you would like to work on, 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions (hypertrophy) or 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (endurance). Finally, get to work performing all that you have written down, ensuring that you use excellent technique on each exercise.
After you finish your main workout, take 10 minutes to stretch the muscles that you just worked to return or improve the resting length of those muscles. Repeat this workout format up to 4 times per week in combination with 2-3 sessions of dedicated aerobic training for maximum results and ensure you reduce the frequency of training depending on muscle soreness and fatigue. Always remember that fitness is a marathon, not a sprint; take your time to learn before you try to set new personal records.
Thank you for your time, be sure to make the most of your time at Centennial College by dedicating a few hours each week to your health and fitness at the Athletic and Wellness Centre. If you need assistance going through any of the information above, please book a fitness consultation with any one of the wellness coaches in the Athletic and Wellness Centre on Progress Campus.