Tag Archives: fitness measurements

My Fitness Experiment #3: Results


After finishing six weeks ofChris Highcock’s Hillfit earlier this year, I designed another fitness program using dumbbells and high intensity interval running on a treadmill.

I’ve preached about the benefits of baseline and periodic fitness measurements.  Here are mine, before and after roughly six weeks of my fitness experiment #3:

  • weight: no change (170 lb or 77.3 kg)
  • maximum consecutive push-ups: 34 before, 32 after
  • maximum consecutive pull-ups: no change (8)
  • maximum consecutive sit-ups: 37 before, 35 after
  • time for one-mile walk/run: 8 minutes and 35 seconds before, up to 8 minutes and 54 seconds after (*)
  • vertical jump (highest point above ground I can jump and touch): 279.5 cm before, to 276 cm after
  • toe touch (wearing shoes, stand and lock knees, bend over at waist to touch toes: no change (22 cm)

I worked out twice weekly for a total of 70 minutes.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening exercise at least twice a week; or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity plus muscle-strengthening activity at least twice a week.

Bottom Line

I was a bit fitter after completing Hillfit a couple months ago.

Or I just had a bad day when I tested this time.  Nevertheless, I prefer my current program to Hillfit.  (Click for report on my six-week Hillfit experience.)

What Next?

For strength and endurance gains, perhaps I should incorporate some Hillfit features into my current plan.

I don’t feel like I’m getting much out of Romanian deadlifts.  Drop ’em?  Do they add anything to squats?  Try Hillfit-style wall squats while hold dumbbells?

How does my fitness compare to other 57-year-old men?  I’m not sure.  One of these days I’ll see how I stack up against U.S. Army fitness standards, which involve a timed two-mile run.

Is my current level of fitness good enough?  Again, not sure.

My highest dumbbell weights are 40 lb (18 kg).  I’m already using those for squats, deadlifts, and one-arm rows.  For future strength gains, I’d have to do those exercise for longer, or more days per week, or buy some 50-lb weights.  A pair of 50-lb dumbbells will cost $50 (used) or $100 (new).

I’ll put together yet another fitness program within the next few months.

I don’t like to exercise, but I want the health benefits.  My general goal is to maximize health benefits while minimizing exercise time.

Steve Parker, M.D.


Next time I do the mile run on the treadmill, start at 7.5 mph and increase to 8 mph as much as tolerated.

(*) About 10 days after this I ran a mile in 8 minutes and 30 seconds on a high school track.

My Fitness

A maximal exercise treadmill stress test is the standard way researchers measure fitness

This is boring.  You should quit reading now.

A few days ago I suggested some baseline measurements to help you keep track of your fitness level, especially if you’re starting or altering an exercise routine. 

I’m starting a new program soon.  Here are my numbers:

  • Weight: 168 lb (76.2 kg)
  • Height: 5 feet, 11.5 inches (181 cm)
  • Body mass index: 23.3
  • Resting heart rate: pending
  • Blood pressure: pending
  • Maximum consecutive push-ups: 30
  • Maximum consecutive pull-ups: 7
  • Maximum consecutive sit-ups (knees bent, forearms folded over chest): 30
  • 1-mile walk/run: 8 minutes, 45 seconds (jogging anywhere from 6 to 8 mph, average about 6.5 mph)
  • Vertical jump (highest point above ground I can jump to touch): 108 and 3/4 inches (276 cm)
  • Waist circumference: 92 cm (standing) or 87 cm (supine)  [big difference, huh?]
  • Biceps circumference: 33 cm (left) and 33.5 (right)
  • Calf circumference: 39.5 cm (left) and 39 cm (right)
  • Toe touch (stand and lock knees, bend over at waist to touch toes): 7.5 inches (19 cm) above ground

    Me around 2007-2008

I was in much better shape a year ago after I finished 15 weeks of Verstegen’s Core Performance.  The most surprising thing about that plan was that I recovered the ability to bend over and touch my toes; I hadn’t done that since my twenties.  I’m 57 now.  Clearly, I’ve regressed since slacking off from Verstegen’s program. 

I was in much worse shape two years ago, thanks to laziness and the resultant sedentary lifestyle. 

Just before the Verstegen program, I’d also developed some bothersome aching in my left shoulder, probably supraspinatous tendinitis.  I cured that with a couple months of rotator cuff strengthening exercises.

So at this point I’m at an average or moderate level of fitness for me.  If my numbers above seem wimpy, remember that I’m 57-years-old.  Hard to be sure, but I’m fairly confident I’m above the 50th percentile for my age group.

I’ll tell you about my new physical activity plan soon.

Steve Parker, M.D. 

Update April 4, 2012:  I added sit-ups today after finding out that the U.S. Army tests soldiers for sit-ups (among other things) twice yearly.