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story.lead_photo.caption Mavis Pryor does the Stretch Band Running Man exercise in Little Rock Racquet Club's indoor tennis center fitness room. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

Those who work in corporate America have likely heard the term "job creep." This is the natural tendency of employers to expect higher work production relative to the normal requirements of a given job. In other words, employers want more output without necessarily dedicating more resources to the effort.

Job creep can overwhelm employees as expectations start to exceed their capabilities. There's a similar phenomenon in fitness.

Someone new to exercise experiences immediate improvement over the first six months. Their body changes, they feel better mentally, and they feel a sense of accomplishment with each workout completed.

As months turn into years, the incremental improvements slow down. The amount of effort required to create a measurable change increases, so there's a natural "fitness creep," whereby one must put forth greater effort to receive the same percentage of improvement relative to their fitness.

Fitness creep often sneaks up on people over time. Their expectations for improvement increase, but their effort stays the same, and results slow down. It's a trap that can be broken, but it requires strong self-awareness and an intentional effort to benchmark certain aspects of fitness from time to time.

Some choose to benchmark with resting measures (i.e., body composition, weight), but active measurement (i.e., muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance) is a better way to monitor one's relative performance improvement over time. Whether that's done through a V02 max test, pushup test or some other standard form of performance measurement is an individual choice that should match one's goal structure.

This week's exercise provides a cool way to benchmark muscular/cardiovascular endurance for those looking to minimize fitness creep. The Stretch Band Running Man is an exercise that will challenge people of all fitness levels, as the intensity can be easily adjusted without changing the resistance.

1. Select a large stretch band and wrap it around your waist and then to a low anchor point. Position yourself standing away from the anchor point.

2. Begin running in place by lifting both knees up to waist level.

3. Slowly move outward from the anchor point until the stretch band becomes taut around your waist.

4. When this happens, speed up your running to a sprint pace, running in place with the resistance of the band holding you back.

5. Continue as long as you can maintain the sprint pace. Keep track of the time to record your benchmark. If you want to use the exercise as part of a workout (as opposed to a benchmark), perform for 25 seconds, rest, then repeat for three sets.

The Stretch Band Running Man can be used for benchmarking performance or as part of a normal workout. It is a great tool for either, but those concerned with fitness creep can implement this right away. It's a challenging exercise that will really give you a sense of your overall fitness, and it's fun to try to improve your performance over time. Enjoy!

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

[email protected]

Style on 02/10/2020

Print Headline: Benchmark exercise helps keep tabs on progress

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