Fitness Test 2 – Movin’ on Up

Step right up, everyone, and see the stepping-on-boxes craze that’s sweeping the nation. This guy is doing it, and so are all of these people. Even the author of our training bible, Scott Johnston, chimed in on the Reddit thread to chirp us and tell us to train harder because at age 61 and with fake knees he’s able to crush us into the ground like the weak little grasshoppers we are.

Back in February we posted the results of our initial baseline test in the alpine combine. Read the post for details on the exact exercises. Last night (around 10 weeks after the first test) we repeated the combine with our friends at the beautiful Crossfit Ironstone in Halifax to see if the previous few months of training was worthwhile.

We saw improvements almost 100% across the board. We were happiest with our improvements on the box step test. Last time I quit after 60 minutes having completed only 80% of the volume for a extrapolated finish time of between 75 and 80 minutes. This time I completed the whole test in 46 minutes, shaving almost half an hour off of my time. I also bumped my pull-ups in a minute from 3 to 9. James continues to impress and is up to just about one rep per 1.5 seconds for most of the exercises.

fit test update

We’re still not sure how this will impact our ability to climb in the mountains, since we don’t have mountains here, but it can’t hurt. We’ll likely repeat the test in another two months to measure our progress before leaving to go climb Mt. Katahdin at the end of June.

If anyone else wants to repeat the test and post your results/improvements in the comments for comparison we’d love to see it.


3 thoughts on “Fitness Test 2 – Movin’ on Up

  1. Great work, guys! And a special shout-out to Matt – going from a non-finish to 46 minutes is fantastic! You guys are going to crush on Mount Katahdin.

    Couple of questions for you alpine animals: What do you think made the biggest difference on the box step – cardio work or strength work? And did you happen to track your heart rate while you were stepping?

    1. Hey, thanks! I think there were a couple of difference makers for me. When we did the test the first time I was trying to cut weight and was eating very few carbs (~40g/day) and this time I was all aboard the sugar train so I think that had a positive impact. The strength work really helped. No individual step ever felt ‘hard’ like it may have the first time. The only cardio I did up until now was hiking and biking in zone 1 (per the book), I think I may have gone on one actual run the whole time, so I don’t know how to judge the impact of that ‘cardio’ on the test.

      And yeah, I had my HR monitor on the whole time. I tried to keep my HR under 175 for most of the first 3/4 of the test so I wouldn’t burn out too soon, then at the end it seemed to hang out around 185. At one point I saw 193. My theoretical max is 189 so I don’t know if it’s measurement error or if I just have a higher capacity. I’ll check to see if I can make my HR workout profiles public and post them up.

      Are you planning on repeating your test, Lee?

      1. Definitely – I did the first Alpine Combine on March 20, so I’ll do the next one around May 20. The last test kicked my ass so hard that I was sick for two weeks (that’s what I get for blowing myself up and then going straight off to pick up my son from day care, where I shook the germ-infested hands of his child-comrades).

        I’m glad to hear that your second test also functioned as a maximum heart rate test of sorts. I also topped out at my theoretical max HR towards the end of the test, and I was definitely in Zone 3/4/5 the whole time (my average for 48 minutes was 169 bpm; I use Strava to manage my running data, and you can check out my profile at I’m really happy with the free version.) So when Scott Johnston writes in your Reddit thread about people who can’t seem to get their heart rate up during the box step test, I have absolutely no idea what he is talking about. This is why I’ve been putting a lot of time into endurance running: I suspect my aerobic base is very weak. I think I’ve got the strength to pull off some serious long-term effort, but my cardiovascular system is lagging behind. This has always been my personal bugaboo – I’m fast and strong, but I have trouble sustaining high-power, long-term effort. There’s no such thing as a free lunch…

        I’m going to start easing back into strength training in the coming weeks, so by May 20 I hope to deliver some earth-shattering stats. I’m really inspired by the progress that you guys have made in the last two months, and I’m hoping to report a similar leap in performance!

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