I'm taking part in the Get Driver Fit challenge here in Abu Dhabi. It's a fitness challenge designed to get people of varying fitness levels back into shape.
Isn't hacking cheating
I don't mean hacking as far as hacking into their computer system and changing my results. You've probably already guessed that I mean the other definition, but just in case you're not familiar, let's head over to the always useful Urban Dictionary.
According to the Urban Dictionary:
A clever solution to a tricky problem
I got the idea for this by reading about how athletes train to perform better at the NFL (American Football) combine. Here's an article on Yahoo Sports talking about how they improve results in as little as 6-8 weeks.
A lot of the hacks come down to improved technique. It could be something as simple as which foot you have forward at the beginning of an exercise, or which exercises you focus on during the preparation phase of your training.
Like I've said in my previous article, I'm not planning on winning the competition, but I always like to have fun with whatever I do. Learning better technique is definitely fun for me.
The Fitness Test
During the first week of testing, all contestants were put through five different tests. I've listed them in the chart down below.
Here's the breakdown:
- Lay downs:___/10
- Shuttle runs:___10
- Sit and Reach Flexibility:___/10
Now that I know what they'll be measuring, I'll use that knowledge to perform better and look for ways to improve my results on those specific tests.
The one thing I can focus on with desire is the fitness portion of the Get Driver Fit test. As of the time of writing, I have a little more than two weeks left in this seven week contest.
The Five Tests:
I'm not worried about doing squats. That's the one exercise I feel like I don't need to worry about. I'll just pick a few days to practice doing as many as possible in a minute to get an idea for timing and pacing.
Push ups are one of the exercises where a lot of people “Cheat” by not going down far enough. The official instruction for this exercise were to touch your chest to the floor. Most people never go down that low because push ups are significantly harder when you go past a 90 degree bend in your elbows.
I had been doing push ups leading up to the first test, so I had moderate expectations of what I could do. The extra few inches of travel from having parallel upper arms to touching my chest to the floor proved to be my downfall. I also gassed myself by starting too early during the drill.
Kevin's results: 30 in 1 minute.
I'll do one minute intervals of push ups to train. That's the big thing. I'll also focus on how wide I place my hands. Wider hand placement means less distance to travel, but too wide will put way more stress on my shoulders. I'll try both distances from the video below and see which one feels better to me.
Tip: I heard a good tip from YouTuber Simon Lendore. He said hit the start button on your timer, and then give yourself 5 seconds before you start actually doing pushups. That way you're not rushing to get to the first rep. I like it.
There are a lot of videos on YouTube of people doing push ups for a minute. Here's a video where Tony Horton from P90X fame was challenged by US Senior Airman Ryan Torralba. Wow! They're both incredible.
I also just saw a video where a guy did 27 push ups while doing a hand stand. Lol. At least I beat him.
I had never tried this particular drill before.
You start from a standing position. Then roll back onto the floor, touching your head and one hand to the floor. Your legs must straighten out completely. Then you get up off your back and return to a standing position.
When I was doing my testing, I learned quickly that I could roll into a ball and then swing my legs back down to create momentum to bring me back to standing. Unfortunately, that was cheating. My legs were supposed to be straight out in from of me.
Kevin's results: I think I did 23 in one minute but I was unknowingly cheating. We'll need to put an asterisk beside that number.
This one was hard to find on YouTube. Luckily I found the perfect video. The one I've attached shows a guy doing lay down's with the exact technique I'll try to emulate. He's not reaching over his head as he lays down (to touch the back of his hand to the floor), but otherwise it's the same movement.
This guy isn't using his hands at all to push up from the ground. That would be awesome if I could do that. I'm just not sure if I can get flexible enough and fine tune my balance in time to make this work.
Here's the video:
There are three cones placed 10m, 20m, and 30m from the start line. You have one minute to go as far as possible. You first run to the 10m cone. Then back to the start line. Then it's off to the 20m cone and back to the start line. Finally you run all the way to the 30m cone and back. When you've competed one set, you repeat the same sequence as many times as possible.
Kevin's results: Two full sets plus once more to the 10m cone and back. My total distance was 260m.
There are four things I'm going to focus on for this test.
- One is overall cardio and good form when running. Seven weeks is plenty of time to build my cardio base. I've done an OK job, but now I'm down to two weeks before the final evaluation.
- Muscular endurance. I could feel my legs burning as they were flooded with lactic acid. I'll be incorporating one minute intervals into both my cycling and running training to get back in the habit of dealing with this.
- Perform shuttle runs. The best way to get good at something is to do it. This test need a lot more space than the others, and the distances should be measured fairly carefully. I haven't done any shuttle runs since that first test (five weeks ago), so it's something I need to look into.
- I found a great video on how to train for the NFL combine shuttle run. It's similar to what I'll be doing, but the NFL test is designed to be a quicker, more explosive test. I'm going to incorporate this into my training and see if it'll help me out as I accelerate out of each change in direction.
Here's the video. It's about 9 minutes, but it's really informative.
“The faster and more efficient the arms are, the faster and more efficient the legs will be.”
NFL Combine Trainer: Pete Bommarito
Sit and reach flexibility
60% of my room to improve.
You sit down with your legs out in front of your and try to touch your toes. If you can reach your toes exactly (like I did), you get a zero. If you can go further, they'll measure how far past your toes you reach in centimeters. If can can't quite reach your toes, they'll record how far away you get and will write it down as a negative number on your sheet.
Kevin's results: I got to my toes exactly, so I recorded a zero.
The obvious hack for this test is to stretch my hamstrings and calves thoroughly over the next few weeks and improve my overall flexibility. An addition way to improve my distance will be sit down and stretch a minute or two before I do the test to reduce tightness from the walk or jog to the station.
I found a video on how to improve hamstring flexibility. It mostly recommends doing a modified downward facing dog stretch from yoga. I'll give this a try and report back.
The final test was burpees. They were omitted from the initial testing, but I have no idea whether I might need to perform them in the end or not, so I'll try to do a few one minute intervals of them in preparation.
Kevin's Results: During the third week of training, I performed 20 burpees in a minute, which is decent.
The second half of the physical component included weighing myself and taking reading on height, waist, and hip measurements.
According to the following chart, my body is a disaster. Lol.
Here's how that breaks down:
- BMI: ___/20
- Waist to hip ratio:___/20
- Waist to height___/4
I scored 19 points out of a possible 50. There's not much I can focus on to improve these results beyond doing the right things like exercising regularly and being selective about what I eat.
The one line I heard (I don't remember where) is to not tell yourself you can't eat something. Instead you say, “I can eat anything I want, but I choose not to eat that.” That simple change is huge. It takes something from forbidden fruit status to just another think I could choose to eat.
My weight was 101.4 KG (223.5 lbs) on the first day of the competition. I haven't weighed myself since that first night, and won't until the last day. I feel awesome that I'm focusing on doing the right things consistently and not stressing out about small fluctuations in weight.
I am where I am right now and nothing will change that. All I can do is move forward.
Two weeks to go!
I have two weeks to go before the final test. I'm excited to see where I end up.
It's too bad that I waited so long to do this post. Otherwise we could have seen how much of a change in the results I could have had using my hacks for a month an a half.
Oh well. I'll push myself and we'll see where I end up.
Feel free to leave me some encouragement below if you're reading this post.