Spring is finally here, which means all of you students out there have finals coming up. For most of your classmates, that means lounging around for as long as possible before a series of grueling all-nighters fueled by caffeinated drinks and thoroughly processed salty snacks. Don’t let yourself go down that road—use your time wisely (at least go about it better than your roommates do). And, of course, don’t let exercise fall by the wayside through all those sedentary hours of reading and writing. Take a study break to take our "fitness final exam," assembled with the help and recommendations of trainer Dan Trink of Trink Fitness.
* For all you older, on the road to be established, corporate America working guys, summer-body time is just around the corner and these tests still apply to you.
Forget about all the excess movement and back straining that comes with crunches. The plank pose is the real basic building block for all ab exercises. Just put your elbows on the floor and hold the rest of your body straight, not letting your back or legs sag toward the floor (you can also keep your arms outstretched, but most find that a bit easier). If you can’t make it to two minutes, scope out some other exercises to build up your abdominal strength and you should get there soon. If you can knock out two minutes easily, simply see how long you can go or add some modifications. Do a regular plank for the first minute, lift your left leg for the second minute, and lift up your right leg for the third. Or, balance your forearms on a foam roller or find some other tough variation.
Squats are another time-tested fitness staple not unlike the gen-ed course you’re taking this semester. Trink says this one has great carry-over potential for any sports and activities you partake in, so pay attention to it. Being able to do one rep of your body weight should be attainable for any guy who puts the work in, and, of course, it’s possible to move forward past that goal. “Go for 1 1/2 times your body weight and you’re likely to be one of the most impressive guys in the rec center,” Trink says. “Two times your body weight and you’re pretty much a beast.”
3. Finish 500 Meters of Rowing in 90 Seconds or Less
Chances are, you probably weren’t on one of those prestigious college rowing teams this year, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid that often-neglected, old-fashioned, but seriously underrated piece of equipment in the back of the gym. The rower gives you a full-body workout and is another thing you should educate yourself on before you graduate. “Getting in a 500 in 90 seconds requires all-out effort and good rowing technique,” Trink says, stressing that you should really add this into your regimen.
The next step is to knock out 15 straight pull-ups, another classic exercise you’ve been doing since the presidential fitness tests in grade school. Trink says the goal here varies based on your weight: 15 is good for a guy from 170 to 190 pounds or so, but he says to shoot for 20 if you’re 160 pounds or less and go for 12 if you’re 200 pounds or more. If these seem unattainable, just keep at it and ramp up your upper body and core work.
Considering there are people out there who can run a mile in under four minutes, finishing one in under nine minutes shouldn’t seem too tough,” Trink says. “However, if you’ve spent more time with dumbbell curls than you have on the track, it might be tougher than you think.” Cardio is important! And school is all about making you a well-informed, well-balanced individual. Take that basic idea to the gym with you, too.
This one adds an explosive element to your fitness final exam. If you generally do basic strength training, this might be another one to include in your regular schedule to keep you well-rounded. Technique is important when box jumping, as always, but it’s not too technical an exercise and, thus, completely accessible. According to Trink, “Two-thirds of your height is a pretty lofty goal to shoot for but so was dating three girls from the same sorority.” Whoa, unless you’re some sort of god, let’s hope it’s not that tough. Best of luck on all your exams, including this one. You’ll need it.