Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Hoop Help
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

Personal Bests

Q: I am a 19-year-old female soldier in the US Army. Every three months we're required to take a test consisting of sit-ups, push-ups and a 2-mile run. At first, I improved a great deal in these events.

However my progression has reached a standstill. I'm working on these events very hard as well as weightlifting and playing racquetball. Does the body reach a point where it can't improve or am I not pushing myself hard enough?


A: If incessant improvement were possible, you would eventually be able to outrun a speeding bullet, which would be of inestimable value to someone in the army.

World-class athletes may work for years to shave a fraction of a second off a world record. In the process, they walk a fine line between peak fitness and debilitating injury Early in your training, progress will seem dramatic, then slowly taper off until you feel like you aren't getting anywhere.

For example, you may be able to only do four sit-ups when you start your exercise program, but after six months of hard work you may work up to 40 sit-ups in a minute. This is a one thousand percent improvement. However, increasing this to 44 sit-ups a jump of merely 10 percent - may take another six months of extremely hard work.

Other factors may influence your performance during the tests. Diet, dehydration, illness, a candy bar too soon before the workout or just not feeling "up" can result in a sub-par performance. As your conditioning improves, it gets more difficult to set a personal best.

At age 19, you can expect to keep improving your strength and speed for many years. You must be careful not to judge yourself too harshly nor to expect the dramatic improvements you've seen so far.

Racquetball and weightlifting won't help you improve your time in the 2-mile run because they're mainly anaerobic sports, and they may have limited benefit for improving your sit-up and push-up capabilities. If you've been counting on these exercises to help you train for your fitness tests, it's doubtful that you'll improve much, although you will get better at racquetball.

Good Luck!

About the authors: Carol L. Otis, M.D., is Chief Medical Advisor to the Sanex WTA and a UCLA student health physician. Roger Goldingay is a former professional soccer player. They are married and the co-authors of The Athletic Woman's Survival Guide.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

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