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Nike app benchmark test a valuable addition to workouts

By Christie Melhorn, October 11 2016 —

At any stage of the journey towards healthy living, it’s easy to be consumed by the desire for instant results. For many of us, being bombarded with #fitspo selfies of ripped people in minimal spandex can stir an obsession with achieving a taut and toned body. While the pursuit of self-improvement can lead to huge positive changes, a fixation on progress can sometimes distract from the present. That’s why this week, I shelved my cardio addiction to take a crack at the “Bodyweight Only Benchmark Workout” on the Nike Training + App for iPhone and Android.

There are an array of fitness tests to examine endurance, muscle strength and other athletic skills. In Practical Fitness Testing: An Analysis in Exercise and Sport, Marc Colson and David Archer explain that fitness testing is beneficial because it can indicate muscle imbalances, instill motivation, establish goals and monitor progress. As busy students with unpredictable schedules, tracking progress through regular fitness tests may not be our top priority. However, trying one out can offer insight about your body composition and areas that could be improved on.

I chose the “Bodyweight Only Benchmark” as my fitness test on the Nike Training + App because of its free features and convenience. Even better, the “Bodyweight Only Benchmark” does not require any equipment, meaning it can be performed anytime, anywhere.

After downloading the app, you have to enter some basic information about your height, weight, current activity levels and goals to access the workouts. Doing so allows the app to recommend routines catered to your fitness needs and interests.

Once your profile is complete, you can scope out routines under the heading “workouts” in the “workout” tab — the redundancy at least makes finding this section straightforward. This page directs you to an archive of workouts emphasizing strength training, endurance or mobility.

At a first glance, I didn’t take the workout that seriously. But upon closer inspection, I realized this workout was going to have me wishing for a half-hearted cardio session. Four sets of push-ups, burpees and squat jumps without any breaks was going to toast me. Even though each successive set requires you to do five less reps than the previous, I anticipated the first two rounds cooking my arms into noodles — which is exactly the purpose. You are not expected to perfectly perform the workout. You should be gassed.

I braced myself as I clicked “download,” which allowed me to view the follow-along video for the routine. When you hit “start,” the video expands across your screen and an automated female voice debriefs you on the purpose of the workout. Each exercise is demonstrated by an athlete showing the correct form and pace to strive for. The number of reps to hit are shown at the bottom of the screen. Upon completion, you click a check mark and are taken to the next exercise.

The first two sets were not as gruelling as I expected. Tumbling into the workout head first gave me a nice rush of adrenaline and endorphins — a pleasant combo after a long day of sitting around.

But later, I struggled to maintain an efficient pace. As I slowed down, I found the endless loops of squatting and jumping athletes on my screen distracting and stressful. I took it personally when I couldn’t keep up with them.

To my ironic dismay, traces of ‘80s workout videos were not completely void from the “Bodyweight Only Benchmark.”. The same placid female voice from the intro consistently reminds you what step to perform, how many reps, how fast to go and that “you’ve got this.” A bitter relationship developed between that excessively-scripted voice and the faster I could pop a burpee.

When all you want is to let your quaking arms melt to the floor, a vapid “do your best” or “come on!” is hilariously annoying. However, if pestering auditory effects like that don’t bother you, the workout would be a more enjoyable experience.

Regardless of my pet-peeves, the workout gave me a satisfying singe in my muscles, especially throughout my arms and back. At the same time, the minimal breaks and challenging moves gave it the same function as a high intensity interval training session. While assessing strength and encouraging self-reflection, the “Bodyweight Only Benchmark” promotes muscle growth. That’s a solid win-win for your mind-body connection.

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