Last July 13-14, 2019, Under Armour held its Philippine leg of the Test of Will Challenge 2019 at the Music Hall of SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. Almost 500 athletes showed up ready to test their physical and mental limits. The competition includes 4 exercises done for 1 minute each with only 20 seconds of rest in between. There are two categories: Open and Elite Category. For the Open Category, exercises include double rope slams, double rope Russian twists, reverse lunges and rope pulls while for the Elite Category, participants will be performing the same set of exercises but at a more complex level (e.g. rope slams had higher targets and reverse lunges are performed with medicine ball).
What did I get myself into?, I say to myself as I wait in line for registration. Looking around I see CrossFit event and Obstacle Course Race finisher shirts being donned by the athletes. Some, you don’t even need finisher shirts for you to see how ripped and conditioned they are. Don’t get me wrong, I have good cardio endurance as I’m competing in a multi-sport event a few weeks from now but, if we’re talking about strength that’s associated with lifting; my fitness level would be at level 2 out of 5.
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With no training going into the competition, my only goal was to not stop during the 1 minute of work. First up was the double rope slams. The rope was not that heavy but what made it difficult was how when you lift the rope up, it should hit the elastic band in front of you (roughly 3 meters away from where you’re standing and about mid-thigh high off the ground) and when you slam it down, it should hit the number on the ground (roughly 0.5 meters away from where you’re standing). The movement requires full motion for you to hit both markers. I tried doing small but fast movements but I wasn’t hitting the number on the ground, which resulted to those reps not being counted. I then used my legs to give me momentum to lift and slam the rope and hit both markers, at this point, I was already using my whole body to do each rep.
Buzzer goes off to signal the 20 second rest… my heart was already pounding. Trying to catch my breath and slow down my heart rate, I sit down on the floor to prepare for the double rope russian twists. The second exercise requires you to sit on the floor with knees bent, foot on the ground, and move the rope to the other side of your body. In order for the rep to count, at least one rope much touch the other pole in front of you. This provided a breather from the cardio like impact of the rope slams. During the competition, I remember one representative from Fitness First giving tips to the participants on the Russian twist. He reminded us to breathe while performing the exercise in order to recover. Good thing I was listening, or I might’ve passed out.
Going into the third workout, I could feel my legs, core and arms start to ache and build lactic acid. One might think that 1 minute is short but once those aches kick in, one minute feels too long and the rests seem like 5 seconds long. The third workout is reverse lunges where for each rep to count, your knee must touch the ground and you must stand straight after each rep. Reverse lunges require your glutes, hamstring, and core to work–all these were already trembling from the double rope slams. I try to go as fast as I can while maintaining proper form. It was in the third exercise I realized why it was called Test of Will. Looking to my right, my heat-mates were all guys with one competing in the Elite Category. These tall and brawny men were just as sweaty and panting as I was. With our face crunched, we pushed against the aches and pains…just one more rep…and another…and another….
Okay, 3 minutes and 3 exercises down, one more to go. Before I lined up, I watched a few athletes do the whole cycle to get a clue on how I can do it faster or easier. As I watched them, I kept wondering why is the rope pulls included? Isn’t that easy? Boy was I wrong. The last exercise requires you to squat down and lean a little forward to gain momentum as that rope didn’t always budge. Holding the low squat position was painful in the bum, hamstring, and lower back. After pulling, you would be sprinting forward to get the rope once it goes past the elastic band and you do it all over again.
Done and dusted. Panting hard and sweat dripping down my face, I was happy as I felt not only did my body get stronger but also my mind. The Under Armour Test of Will makes you feel all the burn and challenges you to push through it. This was one for the books and I’ll definitely do it again next year.