New Year’s health and fitness tests and goals

No party last night means I am fresh to test myself and set some health and fitness targets for the coming year.

The 1-2-3-4 assessments

In his book ‘Can you go,’ Dan John provides a simple 1-2-3-4 assessment he uses with all his clients. As I have just finished one fitness challenge, I thought it would be the perfect time to check in with these to see how I am doing and what I need to focus on for health and longevity. The book is excellent, and the kindle version is currently £3.99 so pick up a copy to learn the details for the assessments and what to do with the results. 

Assessment 1: Stand on one foot

A simple test, stand on one foot for up to 30 seconds. Scoring above 30 seconds is the goal, holding for less than 10 seconds is a sign to visit a doctor for a check-up. 

Result: I achieved 30 seconds on both legs without issue.

Assessment 2: Measurements

Next are two simple body measurements, the first is weight, with over 300lbs being a signal to visit the doctor and dentist for a check-up. The second measurement is the ratio between height and waistline with the target being the waistline at least half the size of height, if not, then body composition is the focus until it is.

  • Measurement 1 – weight: 82.5kg (182lb)
  • Measurement 2 – height and waistline: h: 183cm, w: 91 cm

Assessment 3: Questions

Question one is related to mobility, with being able to sleep with one pillow being the target. Question two and three are to help understand the results of the other assessments.

  • Question 1 – How many pillows does it take for you to be comfortable at night?: One 
  • Question 2 – Do I eat colourful vegetables? I eat a lot of vegetables and a wide variety. I also eat a lot of everything else, particularly sugary treats which explains why I am not leaner. 
  • Question 3 – Do you exercise for a least half an hour each day? I exercise for at least 30 minutes almost every day, for the last year I have run 5-6 days per week and then done mobility and strength on top of this. I choose to have a day off each week for recovery.

Assessment 4: Four tests

The final part of the 1-2-3-4 assessment is four tests. The first is a two-minute plank, with anything less signalling a weak core. The second is based on Claudio Gil Araujo’s sitting-rising test where you attempt to go from standing to sitting on the ground to standing again with no assistance from a hand or knee. The last two are the standing long jump, and a farmers walk. The broad jump’s expected standard is to jump as long as you are tall, so 183cm in my case, but then find your sport’s standards as an additional measure. Brian Mac has published some athletics standards on his website that I will use as a guide. Dan john suggests that you should carry half bodyweight in each hand for the farmer’s walk.

  • Test 1 – Plank: 2 minutes (only just)
  • Test 2 – To the floor and back up again: One knee assisted getting back up (9 out of 10)
  • Test 3 – Standing long jump: 175cm (I think I am limited by technique more than power – I will practice and retest)
  • Test 4 – Farmers walk: 160 meters with 2x 24 kg Kettlebells.

The strength tests

Next is a check-in with Dan John’s strength standards from his book Interventions. I will not list the steps or details in this post but look at them on Dan’s Strength Standards…Sleepless in Seattle post, to learn more, purchase the Intervention book currently £4.99 on kindle. The audiobook is £3.99, and as with all his books, Dan reads it himself.

The standards:

  • Squat movement: Level 5
    • Front squat: 82.5kg (01/01/21)
    • Squat: 100kg (01/01/21) 
  • Press movement: Level 4
    • Bench press: 100kg (01/12/20)
    • One arm overhead press: 32kg Kettlebell (25/12/20)
  • Hip hinge movement Level 4
    • Deadlift: 142.5kg (13/12/20)
  • Pull movement: Level 5
    • Pullups: 13 (10/20)

Sport Specific test

I will split my year in half for endurance racing. I will use the first five months to raise my Functional Threshold Power (FTP) as high as possible in Project 4W/kg. I will use remaining seven months to get faster as a runner, with as much volume as possible to prepare for the Tromso Skyrun in early August and then targeting a fast 10k as the next step on my distance runners journey to end the year. These two goals will be the foundation for attempts at a sub 10-hour Ironman in 2022. 


  • Bike – FTP via Ramp test: 242 watts at 82.5kg (28/12/20)
  • Run – Half Marathon: 1:35:09 (20/12/20)
  • Body composition (01/01/21)
    • Weight: 82.5kg (01/01/21)
    • BMI: 24.9
    • Digital scales body fat: 17.9%

What to work on

  1. Eat much less sugar to get down to a bodyweight of 80kg or lower. My height to waist ratio from the measurements section of the 1-2-3-4 assessments is close to the recommended maximum. Making sure that it does not get larger is essential, and reducing my waistline is suggested. I train a reasonable amount, so I know this is all about diet and reducing the sugar I consume. Getting my body fat down to reduce my weight will also help with all my other fitness goals. I was down to 80kgs during my most intense training period this year, so I know it is very achievable. 
  2. Work on a stronger core by completing the Gymfit level one planking series, ten daily ab wheel rollouts, and proper bracing during all lifts. I was not committed to my ab work during my running training this year. Regular ab work is something I need to commit to if I want to be a faster runner. I barely managed to reach two minutes on the plank test I am falling far short of Jon Albon’s five-minute goal from my running this year.
  3. Practice my standing long jump a minimum of once per week until I can achieve a minimum jump of 216cm. I will be doing many power cleans, squats, and deadlifts over the next six months to help with my power on the bike. With an improvement in strength and power, weight loss, and regular practise to improve technique; I will aim to increase my standing long jump to the mark for an average athlete in the Brain Mac tables.
  4. Purchase 2x 40 kg Kettlebells and work up to a 100m farmer walk with both, a one-arm overhead press with one, and ten double-handed swings every minute for ten minutes. I was limited on the farmer’s walk test by my available weight. Two other challenges I want to achieve this year require a 40kg kettlebell and a future challenge will need two, so I will get two now rather than any other alternative for farmer’s walks. Perhaps the money I save on all that sugar will cover it?  
  5. Squat 120kg for a single, 82.5kg of fifteen reps, Front squat 100kg for a single, and complete level two of the Gymfit single leg squat progression. My strategy to achieving a four Watts per Kilogram Functional Threshold Power this year is to get strong, then powerful, then work on holding power for a longer duration. The front squat target is to bring it in line with my bench press, and the Gymfit goal is as much for the mobility progressions and knee and hip health as it is for balancing the strength of each leg.  
  6. Achieve a double bodyweight deadlift. The second half of the year will be focused on running, and so the strength focus will move from squatting to the deadlift. To make this target, I will continue to work up Andy Bolton’s ladder of heavy kettlebell swings and bring my power clean up to 100kg in line with my bench press. I will also use farmer’s walks and upper back work, such as elevated feet ring rows and weighted pullups to support this goal.
  7. Complete a Ramp test with a calculated FTP of 4 watts per kilogram. I detailed this in a recent post.
  8. Complete a 10k race with a target time of sub 40 minutes. This is the next step in my distance running progression.

Some thoughts

Eight fitness goals is a lot, and some of them are challenging but not out of reach. Some targets will support others, such as getting a strong squat and deadlift will form a solid base to be fast on the bike and run. The year is in two halves, each with their own goals. The first six months focused on the squat and bike FTP and the second half focused on a double bodyweight deadlift and a sub 40 minute 10k run. 

Am I too ambitious? If I achieve all eight targets by this time next year, I will know I did not set the bar high enough for myself. At 37, I am currently a fitter, more rounded, and smarter athlete than I have ever been, and I have used 2020 to achieve a level of strength and endurance that I am proud of. 2021 is a chance to build on this fitness and see what I can do.

Ready, set, go.