LOOKING FIT V ACTUALLY BEING FIT
From Chris Pratt to Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Reynolds to Christian Bale, Kevin Hart to average Joe on whichever underperforming TV weight loss program – we’ve all seen the various transformations from mere mortals to bodybuilder status in a matter of months, biceps and six-packs to envy. News machines are obsessed by such stories, so, seemingly, are the general population. But the question is, how many of these Adonises can run 10km without keeling over, cycle 40km without breaking sweat, or row 2000m in under seven minutes on any given day? Invariably, we tend to judge another man’s fitness on appearance – we’re all guilty of it – but to find out the difference between looking aesthetically fit and actually achieving true fitness, we spoke to Chris Feather, a British ex-rugby league player-turned-fitness-expert at Russell Crowe’s well-respected Sydney gym, 98 Riley Street. Occasional trainer to the likes of Jai Courtney, Feather’s forte is to have a good all round measure of strength, power, muscle endurance, flexibility and endurance, so we figured he’d be able to put us straight. “My philosophy on training for general health and fitness is that you need to be able to move your own engine,” says Feather. “Unless powerlifting is your sport, having a 150kg bench press in the gym is pointless if you can’t walk up the stairs at work without getting out of breath. It’s like having a Ferrari with a one-litre engine. You need to train for actual fitness over appearance. Too many people these days think because someone has a six-pack they’re ‘fit’, but that’s not the case.” General strength, Feather adds, should be measured by percentage of body weight. “For example, I weigh 120kg and can deadlift 250kg. But I train a guy who is 75kg and can lift 210kg. I may have the heaviest deadlift but strength-wise, I’m nowhere near the 75kg guy. And the same applies with cardiovascular fitness. Say you’re 6ft 5 and 120kg, you should be able to row a sub seven-minute 2km – your size lends it to this kind of test. A smaller guy would generally find this test much harder as they are not ‘built’ for it but the opposite can be said for a 100 burpee test, which lends itself to the smaller guy.” As a good gauge of how fit you really are, Feather’s devised a General Physical Preparedness (GPP) test. It lays the groundwork for specific physical preparation (like that fitness event or challenge you’ve signed up for later in the year). Comprising a list of 10 exercises, each is a simple gym-based movement. The measures may not be groundbreaking, but if you can hit all of them at any given time during a session, then congratulations – you have a good state of GPP, and as far as Feather’s concerned, are ‘actually fit’.