16 Week Fitness Challenge

Being active, fit, and strong are things I really enjoy. Most of my life I have played one or more sports at any time and since leaving high school I have spent time trying to build some strength and muscle mass. For the last two and a half years though I’ve had a different focus and other commitments, but now I have a need to be fit and strong again and I have 16 weeks to do it. I’m going to record my approach and my progress here, on my blog, as I go, and then follow up after the 16 weeks with some analysis of what worked and what didn’t.


Over the last two and a half years I tried to eat as healthily as possible (where ‘possible’ sometimes meant ‘convenient’), fit in strength training gym sessions when I could, and I’ve cycled to & from work semi-regularly – but on the whole the past 2 years have been difficult health wise. In numbers I’ve lost about 3kg in body weight, mostly, I think, through muscle atrophy, and my 5km run time has increased from ~20min to ~24min. I’m also carrying a couple of injuries, including lateral epicondylitis (commonly known as tennis elbow) in my left arm that I’ve picked up recently, and an as-yet undiagnosed injury in my neck that’s been with me for the last 10 years.

My current stats are:

Height 185cm
Weight 75.0kg
Body Fat 9%*
Chest 95.8cm
Left Upper Arm 32.3cm
Right Upper Arm 32.8cm
Left Upper Leg 44.3cm
Right Upper Leg 44.5cm
Left Calf 36.2cm
Right Calf 36.5cm
5km Run 24:30
* as measured by a Fitbit Aria scale, I’m only interested in changes +/- and not the actual number


Over the next 16 weeks I intend to

  • gain 6kg of muscle
  • maintain my existing body fat level
  • improve my 5km run by 4min
  • improve my general flexibility


I’ll state up front that I like a flexible plan. Life is often not predictable, things get in the way of training sessions and food intake, despite my best efforts I get sick & injured, and sometimes I just can’t get on the equipment I need at the gym. So I’m planning around the following guidelines:

  • keep individual workouts to 30min
  • separate strength training by muscle groups so workouts can be run on consecutive days, (i.e. where I don’t get time for a rest day in between)
  • Have some backup workouts and exercises to work around equipment shortage or injury
  • Vary workouts between low and high intensity

I’m grouping the 16 weeks into 4 groups of 4 weeks and I’ve put together a food & training plan for the first 4 weeks. I’ll reassess these before starting the next 4 weeks.

My food plan is

I’m not going to plan this out in detail but I’ve worked out some rough kj targets depending on how much exercise I’m doing. Then I’ll target a high % of protein in each meal, try to limit sugars, ‘bad fats’ & salt, and eat the freshest & healthiest foods I can find at the time.

Full Training No Cycle No Training
BMR 11297 11297 11297
Cycle Commute 2259 0 0
Workout 837 837 0
Bluking Excess 1255 1255 1255
Total 15648 13389 12552

My training plan is

Cycle to & from work once per week

  • Each direction is 7km and the route is almost interval like with some sharpish hills and flats in between – there is around 80m of elevation gain each way. My HR averages between 130bpm to 150bpm with peaks from 150bpm to 180bpm, depending how hard I ride.
  • Stretch for 5min after each ride

5km run once per week

  • I’ll adjust this run depending how I feel each week, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, and sometimes as interval training & hill sprints
  • Stretch for 5min after each run

Leg strength routine once per week

  • Barbell Squat
  • Leg Press & Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise (superset)
  • Dumbbell Clean & Jerk & Dumbbell lunge (superset)
  • Stretch for 5min after workout

Chest, shoulders & triceps strength routine once per week

  • Push up & Dip (superset)
  • Dumbbell Fly & Kettlebell Front Raise (superset)
  • Shoulder Press & Dumbbell Bent-Over Reverse Fly (superset)
  • Stretch for 5min after workout

Back & biceps strength routine once per week

  • Pull Up & Kettlebell Woodchop (superset)
  • Barbell Bent-Over Row & Dumbbell Hammer Curl (superset)
  • Dumbbell Zottman Curl
  • Stretch for 5min after workout

Core strength routine twice per week

  • Crunch
  • Leg Lift with Hip Raise
  • Oblique Crunch
  • Stretch for 10min, full body, as part of workout

That’s it. I’ll report back after each 4 week group.

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