Tests vs. Training

A few weeks ago, my friend started talking about this workout called the 12 Days of Fitness. It was like the song "The 12 Days of Christmas" in the sense that it starts with 1 rep of something, then 1 rep of that same something, followed by 2 reps of something else....rinse and repeat, all the way up to 12. It's also okay to do it in descending order instead: 1; 2-1; 3-2-1; etc. Well, today I did it with him, and two other ladies from the gym.

The 12 Days workout was fun, has the potential to be competitive if every participant is physically healthy and skilled enough to do each of the movements prescribed for each "day". But yesterday, out of the four of us who did it, none of us were doing all of the same movements, nor were each of us lifting the same amount of weight. In a sense, the 12 Days turned out to be a great "test" or benchmark workout--something that could feasibly be performed (with no changes to the previous time, for consistency) once every 4-6 weeks to gauge general fitness levels. A faster time of completion would suggest an improvement.

Below I will outline the workout as it was originally written, and the workout as I modified it to be for myself (I am training for a Strong First level 1 kettlebell certification at the moment, and changed the barbell movements to kettlebell). In retrospect, I believe that what I ended up doing was more difficult (not purposefully) than it would have been with a bar, but I have an impinged left shoulder that wouldn't have tolerated pressing a bar at the moment.

ORIGINAL                                                 MODIFIED                                TOTAL VOLUME (reps) 1. Barbell Deadlift (95lb)                       Double KB Clean (40's)                    12 reps

2. Barbell Front Squat (95)                    Double Front Squat (40's)                  22 reps

3. Barbell Push Press (95)                     Double Press (40's)                             30 reps

4. Hang Power Clean (95)                    Double Clean (40's)                            36 reps

5. Pushup (with hand release)               Pushup (with hand release)                 40 reps

6. Mountain Climber                             Mountain Climber                              42 reps

7. KB Swing (50lb)                              Double KB Swing (40's)                    42 reps

8. Sandbell Slam (30lb)                        Sandbell Slam (30lb)                          40 reps

9. x5 Jump Rope                                  x5 Jump Rope                                     180 reps

10. TRX Inverted Row                        TRX Inverted Row                             30 reps

11. 20m Sprints (lengths of turf)          20m Sprints (lengths of turf)                22 reps

12. Pull Ups                                         Pull Ups                                               12 reps

There was a 25:00 goal time attached to the workout. I'm not sure if this was a number my friend came to after doing it a few times, or if this was something from Crossfit HQ or what. But based on the fact I just missed completing it on time with my modified version, I would say that 25:00 is a very reasonable goal to aspire to.


-The 12 Days of Fitness has the potential to be very challenging. It was for me. The kettlebell skills were the toughest part of it, personally, because I never set the bells down between numbers 1 through 4. Overhead pressing in general is a weakness of mine, so getting to number three every round became tougher and tougher as the circuit went on.

-It's scalable. I was able to modify certain movements right before starting, but still kept them within the same movement pattern.

-It is a great test of both physical and mental toughness. Towards the end when your mind and body want to quit, you look at the clock and push onwards.

-It's a TEST, not a PROGRAM