Fitness is about the chase. We exercise in the pursuit of a goal. When we reach that goal, we chase another. There are endless ways you can challenge yourself to be the very best.
Every year, we partner with Men’s Fitness and Women’s Fitness to hold the FitBrit challenge: an event to find the fittest men and women in Britain. 2018 is the tenth anniversary, and the time to start training is now.
Getting into shape for this challenge will pit you against your toughest adversary – yourself. Stay committed, push through and achieve something incredible in the ultimate test of speed, strength and stamina.
To take part, you need to perform nine different exercises back-to-back in the fastest time possible. Here are our top tips to make sure you have a fighting chance of being crowned the fittest in the country:
The first exercise in the challenge takes place on a treadmill with a 0% incline.
To improve your technique, we suggest working on 4-6 rounds of 200m sprints with minimal rest between each. The aim is to get the heart, lungs and legs used to working at a faster pace, improving your time in the process.
As you progress, try increasing to 4-6 rounds of 400m sprints and then up to 600m sprints. Gradually conditioning your body to run 800m is key to increasing your speed and stamina.
20 barbell front squats
For this exercise, men carry 30kg and women carry 20kg. The bar sits on your shoulders, and you start from a fully upright position. Squatting down, your glutes must touch bench before returning to a full upright position with your knees locked. Repeat twenty times.
You’ll need good flexibility in your triceps and forearms. This allows you to hold the bar in a rack position (arms folded back at a 45-degree angle parallel to each other, holding the bar on your shoulders).
When you squat, shrug your shoulders forward to give the bar a better place to rest. If you struggle to perform the rack position, place the bar on your shoulders, cross your arms over your chest and hold the bar in place. If you aren’t ready to do that, use the dumbbell to perform a goblet squat (hold the dumbbell close to your chest and squat, keeping everything tucked in). The goblet squat will improve your strength and allow you to build up to the rack position.
Alternative arm medicine ball press ups
For the third exercise, men have to perform 20 and women have to perform 10. Start from a press-up position with one hand on the floor and the other hand on the medicine ball. Perform a full press-up with your shoulders going down to the height of the ball and push back up. Alternate arms for each repetition until you finish your sets.
The secret to success is to keep your core tight. When training, it is better to make this exercise as hard as possible so that it’s much easier when it comes to the official challenge. With that in mind, letting your hips drop makes the push-up much harder.
To make sure you have a strong, tight core, include a dynamic plank into your routine. To perform a dynamic plank, start from a plank position and lift yourself one hand at a time into a push-up before going back down.
Finally, to improve the speed of your push-up, work on power push-ups (releasing your hands from the floor at the top of the push-up). For even more of a challenge, you can add in a clap between each push-up.
20 alternating dumbbell snatches
For these dumbbell snatches, men are required to lift 16kg and women need to lift 10kg. You perform this exercise by pulling the dumbbell up from the floor and punching overhead by extending your arm. Your elbow and knees must be locked out at the top of the repetition before placing the dumbbell down and repeating with the other arm. Repeat 20 times.
The one thing you may struggle with is controlling the weight of the dumbbell above your head. To solve this, try working on a dumbbell swing. Work on 3 sets of ten for each arm until you can perform the snatch. Once you can, perfect your technique and gradually increase the weight used.
When you’re done with the dumbbells, you’ll need to cycle consistently for 1.5km. Your feet must be secure in the pedals, and no free-wheeling is allowed. This one might sound relatively easy, but the bike settings are quite high. Men must cycle at level 14 and women must cycle at level 10.
The best way to train for this exercise is to keep your revolutions per minute (RPM) high. The training technique is very similar to the sprint training for the 800m run. Cycle hard with high RPM for 20-30 seconds before easing off the pace for another 20-30 seconds. Repeat this until you hit 1.5 km. This way you can cycle for 1.5km at speed and have the stamina to maintain it.
30 Kettlebell swings
This exercise requires men to perform 30 kettlebell swings with 24kg and women to do the same with 16kg. The kettlebell swing should be up to shoulder level with straight arms, and the kettlebell must be stood up before moving on.
If you can’t swing for 30 just yet, you need to focus on building up to the target with multiple sets of swings. Once you’ve achieved this, increase your weight and number of reps.
By aiming for above the required, you will make the 30 swings in the challenge much easier for you and your muscles. Try training to 4 sets of 10 swings, then 3 sets of 15 and 2 sets of 20 reps until you can easily achieve a single set of 30.
20 chest to floor burpees with lateral jump over deck
This is the exercise where you’ll either give up and go home or push on to the finish. Thought regular burpees were bad? For these, you have to perform a chest to floor burpee including a hand release from the floor, followed by a lateral jump over the deck with a 2-foot take-off and landing.
Make sure you include plenty of power and explosive exercises to train for this part of the event. Don’t perform a strict push-up when working your chest to the floor with the burpee. Instead, as your hands land and feet jump back, allow your hips to come down to the floor as you lower your chest down.
Reverse the movement and pop up your feet, allowing the upward momentum to take you seamlessly into the lateral jump. Your lateral tuck jumps should be able to clear the deck easily and the best way to train for this is to perform 4 sets of 5 jumps with a few seconds rest in between each set.
30 barbell push press
The end is in sight! Men need to perform these with 25kg and women need to use 15kg. To complete one rep, you have to push the barbell from your shoulders to over your head and back. You can use your legs to push, but you must lock both your arms and legs at the top before you bring the weight back down to your shoulders.
For this one to work, you need to have stable and coordinated movements between your legs and arms. To improve your push press technique, try including wall ball shots into your training.
Wall ball shots involve standing to face the wall, holding a medicine ball under your chin. Perform a full squat and as you return to standing, explosively throw the ball as high up the wall as possible as if you were taking a basketball shot. As the ball comes back, catch it and lower back into the squat position and repeat. Keep repeating until your technique is perfect.
This one is self-explanatory. However, the drag factor on the rowing machine will be set at 130-140 before the challenge, and you must keep your feet strapped in throughout. The timer stops when the 400m has been reached.
To train for this final exercise, we suggest working on generating power with each pull. Perform 10 explosive, strong pulls and 5 recovery, easier pulls. Continue this until you cover the 400m distance. If you want to progress, decrease the number of recovery reps each session until you are covering the distance with explosive, strong pulls.
Length and strength are key to this exercise. The longer and more powerful your pulls, the quicker you will complete the distance.