As we reach the halfway point of the Sci-MX challenge, Sport360°’s Dan Owen and Alex Rea look at how they will be measuring success over the course of the two-month transformation.
Dan Owen @MyPropLife
I have a confession to make. I had a pretty inauspicious start with my coach, John Britton.
Picture the scene. John is a physical specimen, a Sci-MX athlete with fantastic credentials in the sport and fitness world, he lifts super heavy, and has the engine to go for days.
I had come off a year out of rugby, with a lot of heavy lifting and almost zero conditioning. Our initial testing day would give us a benchmark to measure against come the end of the challenge, and there was a little trepidation on my part.
We kicked off with some power cleans, looking more at technique rather than number as this was a new movement to me. We then went into some strict shoulder press, and some max box jumps. All good so far. Then we hit the Assault Bike.
What must have only been about 40 seconds of flat out effort later, and I was on my haunches in the
carpark, hoping not to see my breakfast again. It was shortly after this, John had some words of reassurance. “Good news,” he said. “Things can only get better!”
It was a humbling experience but a necessary one. And set up the following eight weeks perfectly.
For me success exists on a number of levels, and they all relate back to playing rugby.
Firstly, conditioning, the ability to work for an extended period of time, has to improve.
This will be measured through the assault bike and rowing machine, using bursts of flat out effort as the benchmark, to replicate the exertions of a game.
Next is power. The ability to apply a force, or move weight, with speed and explosiveness. I have a good base level of strength, but lack speed. We are measuring improvement here with the power cleans, and max box jumps.
The final thing is body composition. I could definitely get leaner during this process, but am not looking to drop weight, as mass is still an important element of my rugby, especially playing prop. This will be measured on look and feel.
Half way through, and thanks to the programme John’s has devised for me, there are noticeable differences already – we’ll wait to the end to see what the full results are.
Alex Rea @AlexReaFitness
How do you measure success on a fitness journey?
There’s the tangible results like numbers on a scale, jeans size or weight you can lift. Running parallel is the notional, a mental element which culminates in a more positive outlook. But to reach specific targets, measurements are required throughout the process to allow for modification.
Ultimately, the point of taking measurements is to create a bedrock of data which you can act on.
And in a physique challenge like this when you’re working with such fine margins, weighing both yourself and your food are two crucial parts of the journey. It’s something my trainer, certified Exercise Physiologist and Sci-MX athlete Aaron Agnew, has continually hammered home. As the Canadian has implored, fat loss begins in the kitchen and weighing your food is paramount because it can reveal so much about your eating habits.
For this challenge, it helps to create an accurate picture of how much I’m eating down to the exact calorie and macro-nutrient but it teaches you about common serving sizes as well. Vitally, it means adjustments can be easily made after tipping the scales. And for that reason, weigh-ins are equally important, think of it as cause and effect.
Aaron has asked that I weigh myself every three days, first-thing in the morning on an empty bladder to ensure consistent, accurate results. The number on the scale brings accountability and shows if things are working. Fortunately, we’re on track. At the midway point, my body-fat percentage is down from 14 per cent to 10 per cent, my visceral fat from four per cent to one per cent while my weight has dropped from 86.7kg to around 84kg.
The numbers don’t lie because the physical changes, particularly in the mid-section, are evident.
But with great reward, comes a great sacrifice and the mental battle for this challenge has been tough.
Operating on little carbs has meant training is hallmarked by lethargy while the 2300 calorie limit means regularly going to bed hungry with disrupted sleep.
The constant feeling of being ‘skinny’ has made me second-guess myself at every turn and these thoughts are exactly why you need someone like Aaron in your corner, to help keep you on the straight and narrow. At the finish line, will be an inward and outward success – my leanest physique ever and the accomplishment of tackling a different way of dieting and training.