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A For Time Workout To Assess Your Fitness At The Gym

Press-up
(Image credit: Getty Images / Thomas Barwick)

It’s all well and good going to the gym and following a routine, but how well is that approach working for you? Are you actually benefiting from it?

Ashton Turner, personal trainer and director at London’s evolve353 (opens in new tab), has devised a “for time” workout for gym-goers to assess your level of fitness. These sessions are a popular CrossFit workout format and ask you to complete a number of rounds of a circuit as quickly as possible. That makes them well suited to being repeated after a period to see if you are able to improve on your time. 

“I love this workout because we rarely test and retest ourselves,” says Turner. “This is a simple but effective way to set yourself a baseline, then see if your training programme is working by retesting four to six weeks later.”

Ashton reiterates that it’s important to always maintain good form with each exercise. “Just racing through it with poor form doesn’t mean you are fitter!” And you don’t just have to try and beat your time either. “If you are able to increase weights and keep the completion time the same, this is still an improvement.”

“A good starting weight will be eight to 12kg for women and 16 to 20kg for men, but scale as needed,” says Turner. “This is about setting a benchmark for your fitness level and aiming to improve on your score – not someone else’s.”

Once you’ve got everything you can out of this session, try these AMRAP workouts, gym challenges or fitness tests.  

For Time Workout

Try four rounds for time of the below exercises. Stick with the same dumbbell weight throughout.

1 1,000m row 

Rowing

(Image credit: Getty Images / Thomas Barwick)

Row for 1km on a rowing machine.

2  Dumbbell front squat

Reps 10

Stand tall resting a dumbbell on each shoulder, feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing out slightly. Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground, keeping your back flat and gazing forwards as you do so. Push through your heels to rise. 

3 Hand-release press-up 

Reps 10

Start in a high plank position with your wrists directly underneath your shoulders, arms extended, and body in a straight line. Bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor, lift your hands off the floor briefly, then place them back on the floor and push yourself back up. You can perform the press-ups on your knees if you prefer. 

4 Dumbbell bent-over row

Reps 10

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells in front of your body. Push your hips back until your torso is almost parallel to the floor and let your arms hang down. Keep your back flat and core engaged as you bend your elbows and lift the dumbbells, keeping your arms close to your body. Pause when the dumbbells reach your rib cage, then lower.

5 Dumbbell lunge

Dumbbell lunge

(Image credit: Getty Images / Thomas Barwick)

Reps 10 each side

Stand tall, resting dumbbells on your shoulders. Keeping your core engaged and back flat, take a large step forwards with your left leg and lower until your back knee is just above the ground. Ensure your front knee remains directly above your ankle. Then push up through the front heel to rise and return to standing. Alternative sides with each rep.

6 Chest-to-floor burpees 

Reps 10

From standing, squat down, place your hands on the floor in front of you and jump your feet back to land in a high plank position. Bend your elbows and complete a press-up, making sure your chest touches the floor. Then jump your feet forwards again, and jump up, reaching your arms overhead.

Lucy is a freelance journalist, and former health and fitness editor across various UK women’s magazines. She is also a level 3 personal trainer and is trained in pre- and post-natal fitness.