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Fit 4 Life | Training to become Tuff Enuff Part II: Training programme

Published:Wednesday | June 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMMarvin Gordon
Overall conditioning will improve performance, especially in a non-linear event such as the Tuff Enuff Challenge.


Goal: Build strength.  

Recommended Tests: Upper body strength test (bench press)

Lower body strength test (leg press)

Training: The strength component of the training is designed around a push-pull split. The push workouts focus on the chest, shoulder, tricep, and quadriceps muscles, while the pull workouts focus the back, hamstring and bicep muscles.

Compound movements, especially the Big Three (squat, deadlift, bench press), take centre stage when strength is the goal. Each workout has at its base a compound movement for each of the major targeted muscles. Smaller moves are added to the mix where necessary.

Rep range: six to 12

Period: Weeks one to six – Though the strength training is recommended to be the focus of weeks one to six, resistance training should continue throughout the programme to maintain conditioning. Put simply: use it or lose it. 

Do three sets of each 6-12 reps of the foundation movements. Add up to four sets of optional movements.

Push workout A

  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Dumbbell shoulder press
  • Dumbbell squat
  • Dumbbell tricep extension

(optional movements)

Push workout B

  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Bench press
  • Dumbell split squat
  • Tricep kickbacks
  • Dumbbell split squat

(optional movements)

Pull workout A

  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Pull-up
  • Dumbbell curl

(optional movements)

Pull workout B

  • Single-leg deadlift
  • One arm row
  • Hammer curl
  • Optional exercises

(optional movements)


Goal: Use training to build strength endurance.  

Recommended Tests: Upper body strength endurance test (push-up)

Overall strength endurance test (sit up)

Test norms:

Push-up – men age 20-29 up to 37; men age 30-39 up to 30; women age 20-29 up to 30; women age 30-39 up to 24

Sit-up – men age 20-29, up to 42; men age 30-39, up to 39; women age 20-29, up to 38; women age 30-39, up to 29

Training: Overall conditioning will improve performance, especially in a non-linear event such as the Fit 4 Life's Tuff Enuff Challenge. At least one overall conditioning workout should be done every week. More intense training such as barbell/dumbbell complexes should be limited to once a week.

Rep range: 13 to 16 for anaerobic capacity and 20 to 40 for aerobic training

Period: Weeks one to 10

Basic endurance builder 

Perform each exercise back-to-back then rest for two to three minutes.

  • Pull-up - 3-6
  • Push-up - 14-24
  • Sit-up - 12-18

Advanced endurance builder

Perform each exercise back-to-back then rest for two to three minutes.

  • Plank with arm raise – 10 to 20
  • Walkout to push-up – 1 to 3
  • Push-up – 12 to 20
  • Plank knee to twist – 4 to 6

Barbell/Dumbbell complex

Complexes require you to complete five to six exercises without putting down the weights. This form of training should only be performed once a week and should only be done by persons with a high fitness level.

Grab a pair of dumbbells, perform five to eight reps of each exercise. Rest. Repeat. Start with one complex and, as your conditioning improves, work your way up to four complexes with two minutes rest in-between. 

Recommended complex:

  • Bent over row
  • Deadlift
  • Shoulder press
  • Reverse lunge
  • Squat


Goal: Use aerobic training to improve cardiovascular health and performance.  

Recommended test: 12-minute run/walk

Test norms: men and women under age 30, 1.25-1.74 miles; men and women age 30-39, 1.15 -1.64 miles 

Training: Consistency is key when cardiovascular improvement is the goal. Cardiovascular training should raise the heart-rate to between 55 and 85 per cent of heart-rate max to be effective. The duration and intensity will vary based on the type of training but aerobic conditioning requires training at least three times a week. A mix of steady-state and high-intensity interval training is recommended.

Rep range: At least 20 minutes three times a week. May require more as your fitness improves.

Period: weeks one to 12

Jump rope 

Six sets of jump rope three times a week. The aim is to get to six sets of three minutes with 30 seconds of rest after each set. For safety, start with six sets of 30 seconds with at least one minute of rest between each set. 


A 20-minute run/walk three times a week. Running is great for aerobic conditioning but can be a very high impact exercise. Don't try to go too hard too fast. 

HIIT training

Hit training should be limited to two times a week and should not follow heavy training days. (Follow The Gleaner’s HIIT training guides.)

Machine training

Cardio machines such as the stationary bike and stair climber are also effective. Pay attention to intensity (55-85 per cent of heart-rate max), duration (at least 20 minutes) and frequency (at least three times per week, for aerobic conditioning).

NOTE: Complete at least one pull and one push workout each week. Optional moves include direct core and abs training, muscle isolation and small muscle group training (for examples, calves).

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email:;