Many a times, it's not how hard you train but rather hard smart you have been training that makes the key difference. After all, training is just like studying. For all of us who have been through school or at least some years of education, we would have wondered many a times why some of the kids in class who don't seem to be mugging at their textbooks or memorising chunks of information downloaded by the professors actually score better grades than us!

That's because these folks have long mastered the art of studying smart. Ok, slight digression here. Now if we were to use the same analogy when it comes to training, then it should also hold water.

Let's face the hard truth now. As a guy, you either love the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) or you hate it to the core. If you love it, it's because you know you can look forward to the monetary incentive ranging from $100 to $400 that comes with it after you have cleared the stations. If you hate it, it's simply because you know you are going to fail again...with the possibility of Remedial Training (RT) looming alongside it. Whether you are a student waiting to enlist into National Service or a reservist, there's no escaping the IPPT test that comes along with it.

In all honesty, wanting to pass the IPPT is no mean feat in itself, let along ace it. Let's examine why this is so.
 
 
Test Item      Fitness Component(s)
Sit-Up
    Abdominal muscular strength and endurance 
Standing Broad Jump
    Lower limbs extensor muscular power 
Chin-Up
    Upper limbs muscular strength and endurance 
4 X 10m Shuttle Run
    General speed, agility and co-ordination
2.4km Run
    Cardio-respiratory endurance and lower limbs muscular endurance

Comprising five different stations, each of the components has been designed to test the fitness, strength and agility of certain muscle groups. Just think of it as a mini IronMan.

You don't enter an IronMan run without training for it. Likewise, you don't take your IPPT without training for it. Now put that training smart. But then again, there are ways to ace your IPPT, if you know how to train smart.

Last week, one of my clients informed me that he was going to take his yearly IPPT on Monday. From his record on paper, it looked that he would be in for a tough time again. After all, his past records have been  a consistent fail all these years ever since he finished his National Service. It's not surprising as most of us lead a sedentary lifestyle, with our Facebook, Youtube, I-phone and TV being our best companion. But because we had been training him for it, I was quietly confident he would at least get $100.

And just today, one schoolboy in his PE attire at the public gym approached me to ask how he could train a particular body part. I liked what this boy asked me as he's one of those who are learning to train smart. In particular, he asked me how to train his lats.

When I asked him why he's training his lats, or latissimus dorsi, he replied saying that's because he's working on clearing his chin-up station. Indeed, the chin-up station, contrary to popular belief, relies on the strength of your lats and NOT your biceps. I've seen so many people attempt to pull themselves using their biceps until they are almost going to burst and when they are still about to fail, do some frog kicks at the in one last attempt to get one's chin above the bar.

And to let everyone in on a big secret, the fastest and most effective way to train your lats is to do your chin-up. And conversely, to ace your chin-up station, you need to train your lats. Period.

 

Now back to the story of my client. When I met him for training again on Wednesday, he brought me good news! Not only did he pass his IPPT, he scored a silver! This meant he's now $200 richer!

From series of fail to a silver, that's a huge accomplishment. And for the record, he did 9 chin-ups :)

To learn more secrets to ace your IPPT, click here!
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Imagine being asked to speak at a service excellence themed event on a topic that is non-service related. Most people would probably think twice before accepting. But not the organizers and myself. We agreed that it could be done and would be interesting.

Titled “Serving You, Serving Me”, the service excellence themed event at the Ministry of Education (MOE) Headquarters first kicked off with an award presentation ceremony honoring the most service oriented staff in the ministry under the “Serving You” category before proceeding with my portion on health and fitness which was billed under “Serving Me”.

If you think it strange how a health and fitness talk can gel into a service excellence based event, think again. Only when one is fit, hale and hearty can he or she serve others and provide them with good internal or external service. It thus makes perfect sense for all of us to treat our bodies well as that’s the only way we can lead a quality lifestyle.

Today’s health and fitness talk at MOE HQ, held after the tea-break, attracted a big sign-up crowd of close to a 100, or so I was told. Encouraged by the response, I felt really relaxed from the moment I was handed the portable mike. Perhaps it’s because of the good vibes from the audience or the friendly banter I had with some of the participants (including the director) during the tea-break as I arrived early.

If you ask me why I continue to be excited each time I do a talk or workshop, it’s simply because I draw energy from the audience. When they show that they are more than willing to learn and exchange ideas, that’s when the session gets really fun. 

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We all have a responsibility to look after our bodies and not take it for granted. Just like how others such as the media and the people around us attempt to bombard us with their own agenda-driven messages, it is still up to us at the end of the day to decide what is best for ourselves. This is our health we are talking about. This is our fitness we are talking about. So if you know the true extent of your health and fitness levels, it makes the job of living a quality lifestyle a breeze.

Sharing this important notion with the participants, I taught them how to check the state of their health through various indicators. And through this process, there were of course mixed reactions in the crowd as some were pleasantly pleased while others heaved a sigh of relief…only to witness yet some others draw a frown on their faces.

Next up was the repeated emphasis on my part on the importance of meals to one’s diet. Just think about it – you may have had the best workout of the century a couple of minutes ago but if you check yourself in for a buffet meal or fast food joint just to reward yourself for your hard work earlier, you can bid farewell to that workout as it’s completely wasted. Yet diet doesn’t always mean having to deprive ourselves of food as we still need to eat. And eat we must. But eating smaller meals more often, think every three hours, is the way to go! Not only will your metabolism rate and sugar levels be kept constant, you will also feel less lethargic.

Ever heard of the saying "all talk and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? I’m sure you must have! And that’s why I specially added two simple, yet effective bodyweight exercises to bring the talk to a crescendo and for the participants to live with something concrete which they can implement immediately in their lives. Like the parting of the Red Sea, we all witnessed the swift moving of the chairs to the sides as the multi-purpose room was literally transformed into a mini exercise area. The only ingredients missing were volunteers and mass participation!


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After my demonstrations, one gentleman and one lady stepped forward to co-lead the group in the two bodyweight exercises. I love bodyweight exercises as it effectively kills three of the biggest, all-time excuses people have for not exercising. They are 1) no time, 2) no money and 3) no knowledge. With bodyweight exercises, you can do these exercises anytime, anywhere even in the comfort of your office cubicle or at home in front of the TV.

Remember everyone, even if you have never exercised for the last few years, fret not as it is never too late to take action to do something. Do something for yourself in the New Year and watch your health and fitness reach new peaks.
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