Understanding "Measurable" Workouts

Created by Michael Stanwyck, Modified on Wed, 16 Nov, 2022 at 3:10 PM by Michael Stanwyck

What is a Measurable Workout?

Your Whole Life Challenge begins with the Whole Life Challenge Body, Fitness & Lifestyle Measurements.

This consists of four parts:

  1. Body measurements
  2. A measurable workout
  3. A before photo
  4. The Quality of Life questions

Your final ranking among your teammates will be partially determined by your improvement in your measurements and workout.

What is a "measurable" workout?

For a workout to be measurable, it must be a physical activity that can be scored or timed with a single number, either a TIME or a SCORE. A 5k run is a good example. You start when the gun goes off, give it an all-out effort, and get a time when you cross the finish line. Your time is the measurement.

Fortunately, there are many options for completing a measurable workout other than just running a 5k.  No matter what you choose for your workout, there are three things any measurable workout must contain:

  1. It must be either timed or scored. That means your typical spinning, yoga, aerobics or Zumba class is out. These usually don't contain elements that are measurable. While your fitness class might be timed (60 minutes), there is nothing you can score yourself on for that time. (more on that below).
  2. It must be an "all out effort" so that you know it's representative of your best, and that your improvement is real, not the result of a change in the effort you put in.
  3. It must be something that you can repeat, exactly, so the only change is you. 

What's the difference between a "scored" workout and a "timed" one? 

A scored workout is one for which the time is fixed, and you do as many repetitions of a movement or series of movements as possible.

Examples of scored workouts:

  • the number of sit-ups you can complete in 2 minutes
  • the max distance you can row, walk or run in 5 minutes (max effort)
  • the number of reps of 5 push ups, 10 sit ups and 15 squats you can you can complete in 20 minutes  

A timed workout is one that the distance or number of reps is fixed, and you try to complete it as fast as possible.

For example:

  • a 5k or 5 mile run
  • a walk around your block
  • a 2,000m row
  • 50 squats, 40 sit ups and 30 push ups

If you're participating with a team, we recommend that you do the workout that your Team Captain gives you so that you're eligible for any local prizes that your team may be offering. If your Team Captain doesn't give your team a workout, you're doing the Challenge on your own, or injuries or physical capacity preclude you from doing what your team is doing, you can select any measurable workout you'd like.

More Measurable Workout Ideas

If it can be measured, it can be managed. Once you have a measure of how you perform now, you can make a plan to improve your performance. This is the principle behind selecting a measurable workout to assess your fitness at both the start and the finish of the Whole Life Challenge.

But WHAT workout? And how should you choose?

Here's what we recommend.

1. Choose something you already know how to do. The last thing you want to do at the outset of the Challenge is to try to learn something brand new to test your fitness level with. If you've never run over a mile, don't make your workout a 5k. And if you've never done a clean & jerk, well, you might not even know what I'm talking about...and that's fine - don't try to learn. 

Use the KISS principle. Keep it simple, stupid. Choose movements that your body is capable of doing, and that you already know how to do. If what you do now is walk, then figure out a challenging walk and do it as fast as you can. And if you can do push ups and are excited about increasing them over the course of the Challenge, make them part of your measurable workout.

2. Choose something that excites, motivates and inspires you. If you want to improve the strength of your abs during the Challenge, make your workouts something that tests your abdominal strength - like how long can you hold yourself in a plank position or how many sit-ups can you do in 2 minutes.

Likewise with any other physical capacity. Want to improve your endurance? Choose something that tests it - like how long does it take you to walk around your block (at an "all-out" effort) 5x, 8x or 10x?

3. It doesn't have to be long or super hard to be effective. One simple thing is all you need. Like how many squats can you do in 2 minutes, how long does it take you to do 100 squats, or how many push ups you can do before failure?

4. The Whole Life Challenge Workout Matrix (download as a PDF below)

We've created a guide to give you ideas and to assist you in selecting or creating a workout that is in alignment with your intentions and suits your level and expertise.  

It contains 9 workouts that are organized by endurance, bodyweight, or a combination of the two. Each of these categories has a workout appropriate for a beginner, intermediate and advanced level.

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