Monday, 27 July 2015

Fitness Tests 101: Hang Tough!

Lets start with some simple fitness tests. One of the most simple of all is the (straight arm) hang test for grip strength. For most this is the limiting factor in their pull ups ie its hard just to hang on for more than a minute! 

The straight-arm hang test measures grip strength and endurance vs your own body weight. Sounds simple? It is but it is suprisingly difficult to hang for long. Grip strength is a very innate ability and most of us don't train it, so be prepared for a terrible initial score! Its a variant of dead-hang used in gymnastics.

Instructions. Grasp an overhead (pull-up) bar (if you dont have one you can use the top of a door but there is a tendancy to cheat in a door hang) at shoulder width. Start the stopwatch or better get someone to time you => lift your feet and time until you drop. Warning: its painful on the hands! 

Tips: try tight fitting gloves; try counting out aloud; try another 10sec at the point when you want to drop! Try holding the bar in different positions—chin up style (palms facing you), pull up style (palms facing away from you), neutral (palms facing each other), mixed (one palm in, one out).

Score:        Males       Females
Untrained: <30 secs     <10secs
Beginner: 30-60 secs    10-30secs
Good:      60-100 secs    30-60secs
Elite:        2mins or more   1min or more

My score: I managed just over 30 seconds first time, then 45, 50, 60 and 67s at weight of 76kg. Shocked how difficult this is!

Comment. Hanging trains muscles of hand and forearm, typically the most untrained of areas! For experts you can progress to one hand, or specific fingers (climbers exercise). Also try weighted handing (weight between feet. Try different bar diameters (eg using a towel, or tape or by cutting two short lengths of PVC pipe)

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