Aptly named, Superfit is a community of like-minded people who want to Live Better through sport and exercise. At the same time, they strongly believe in the wellness of the mind, body and spirit.
So as a result, they put together a variety of fitness programmes that include the Spartan Race boot camp and the Men’s Health Urbanathlon training sessions, as well as running training by Suunto and yoga sessions by the activewear brand, Lululemon athletica.
Attended a Superfit Spartan training
I had recently attended one of the group’s Superfit Spartan sessions. These are held several times a week – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at various locations. On other days, other types of sessions are held by Superfit.
The session that I took part in had been an outdoor one at the Kallang Practice Track and it was definitely an intense one that had left me gasping for breath at the end.
The session begins
We had started the session with running three rounds of the 400m track. The first round was easy running to get the heart pumping, and in the second round we had to do exercises such as sideways running, whilst the third round was all-out running till we were panting.
But the worst though, was still yet to come.
We were then split into groups of about four to five people each. Every group had been assigned to one of the three stations, with each station consisting of three exercises that had focused on a certain part of the body – the arms, the core or the legs.
Some of the exercises that we did, had included mountain climbers, alternating lunges, sandbag squats and push ups with a weighted ball.
These three parts of the body were chosen – according to Chong Kai Sheng, 23, a trainer with Superfit and a Bachelor of Science (Business Administration) student at SIM University – is essentially because training all three areas, is considered equivalent to a full body workout.
He said, “For most endurance obstacle races such as Spartan Race, it is important to ensure that all of the muscle groups are ready. Most obstacle races have obstacles such as rope climb and bucket carry; it is much more than simply doing running as training as you will need the upper body strength as well.”
As many rounds as possible within nine minutes
At each of the three stations, we were tasked with as many rounds of ten reps, for each the three exercises that we could muster within the prescribed nine minute time frame.
Said Kai Sheng, “These are isometric exercises, otherwise known as static exercises. One of the purpose is to build relevant muscle groups for Spartan Race and other obstacle races; the main focus is the arms, core and legs and the quads.”
He added “The benefit of such exercise is that you do not need a lot of space to do it; today we had a rather confined space yet we were able to achieve a lot of things. This is good for working professionals and students who want to exercise but can’t find the time for a jog.”
Out of the three stations, they were all quite difficult, as I don’t do this type of training on a regular basis. The easiest station though, was probably the legs one; I think that this is because I incorporate exercises like squats and lunges into my running training with Coached on a regular basis. But still though, doing squats with a 15kg sandbag is a completely different matter, compared to reps of basic squats, which I usually do.
But as for the arms and the core stations, I am not really used to these types of exercises; that is why I probably found them to be harder, and midway through the nine minutes, I had to stop to catch my breath and at the same time, to give my body a reprieve from the agony. But I suppose that I had managed to get through the exercises as best as I could.
Teamwork required in the second segment
The second part of the session had then required teamwork. In our groups, we had to then take turns to carry a 21kg load – consisting of a 15kg sandbag together with a 6kg medicine ball – for about 15 to 20 metres. I admit that I struggled a bit from the weight, but in the end managed to carry the load.
After that every group had to go down to the 400m track and complete one whole loop of the track, with the sandbag. We were allowed to take turns to carry the sandbag, and not surprisingly, the two strongest guys in our group had offered to carry the sandbag for most of the way.
Explained Kai Sheng on this part of the training, “This is a team endurance activity that inculcates teamwork and coming together to accomplish a task that may seem daunting for an individual.”
We ended the session with a couple of burpees each; originally Kai Sheng, our instructor, had mentioned 30 burpees for the losing team, but to emphasise the value of teamwork, we split the burpees evenly amongst the 15 of us present.
One to three months to train for an obstacle race
On average, Kai Sheng recommends one to three months for the average Singaporean, to train from zero to being able to complete an obstacle race safely.
He added, “If you are going to the race with a team of people who would be helping each other to cross the obstacles, then one month should be enough.”
Continued Kai Sheng, “But if you plan to challenge the entire race on your own, then it is recommended to train three months beforehand. You should also have a wholesome training programme that includes running to cope with the long distances, as well as calisthenics and push ups, pull ups, core exercises and squats to train up the different muscle groups.”
Do burpees if you are strapped for time
And what about the average office executive who wants a healthy body but may not have the time to attend training so frequently? Then that is where simple home-based exercises come in. Said Kai Sheng, “This is what I recommend to most students. It is hard for most people to do 5 sets of 15 minutes of hard exercise daily, so I tell them to do burpees. It is one of the best exercises out there that targets the whole body.”
For the burpees, Kai Sheng recommends three sets of one-minute burpees, going out as hard as possible each time, and taking one minute of rest in between every set. But for those who are really time-strapped, then the burpees can be split up, for example, by doing one minute in the morning before bathing, one minute at lunch time and the final one minute before heading to bed.
Average Singaporean can also benefit from these workouts
But doing regular burpees and attending the Spartan training sessions though, according to Kai Sheng, does not purely apply to those who wish to train for obstacle races though. In fact the average Singaporean can benefit from such workouts as well.
Said Kai Sheng, “The benefits will be more obvious in obstacle races; for example if a person who has not worked out at all, goes for our training regularly and then does Spartan Race, they will begin to see the benefits.”
He added “But then again the idea of doing any type of sport – not just functional training but also badminton, soccer, swimming or even running, is not simply to train for an event but rather, to integrate it into our daily lives to make us more functional as individuals. For example training arms and legs can help home makers when they carry their kids or their groceries. Also for those who do manual labour, then incorporating in strength training will help them in their lives and jobs as well.”
Good rest and nutrition is also vital
Kai Sheng also pointed out though, that working out is not the only way to get fit. He said, “Apart from working out, you also need good nutrition and rest. Exercise breaks down the muscles and to build them back and reap the benefits from the session, you must have plenty of rest and nutrition. It is important to not skip meals; you have to have a good balance of proteins, carbs, dietary fibre and vegetables.”
Here is a recap of the exercises that we did during the session.
He also mentioned that getting six to seven hours of rest is also vital. Said Kai Sheng “Sleep is really important for the body to recover. If you are sore after doing a high intensity workout, it is no harm taking a day of rest and continue the next day. If you keep on going without a break, your body will burn out.”
Head on to http://superfit.com.sg for more about Superfit.