The Lab Test

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The Get Speedo Fit challenge has begun (cue klaxon sounding). For six weeks, four regular people will be in the hands of pro Speedo swim coach Dan Bullock, who will be guiding them through the rigours and tests of a top-level swimming fitness and technique plan. To truly understand what benefits these six weeks will bring, we first need to understand exactly where we’re starting. To achieve this, we put our challengers under the microscope. Like determined guinea pigs, Alex, Elle, David and Amy were handed to the experts at the University of Bath’s Human Performance Lab, where they underwent medical-style examinations and the kinds of fitness tests you’d associate with elite-level athletes. Poked and prodded, their performance levels, body compositions and potential for change was revealed. Here, then, is the scientific lowdown on our challengers, from the strength of their lung power to the size of their muscles.


Alex Hemsley

Weight: 91.60kg
Body fat: 14.5%
Waist: 90cm
Upper arm (flexed): 40.5cm
Mid thigh: 60cm
VO2 max: 45.4

Alex’s lung capacity (measured by V02 max) coupled with his ability to perform under exhaustion places him in the above-average bracketing, typical of someone with a sporting background like his. While this is already a solid base, the University of Bath’s experts believe he’ll still develop even greater fitness via increased lung power and muscular endurance, while reducing his body fat. Follow his training plans to do the same.


Amy Hopkinson

Weight: 57.50kg
Body fat: 22.21%
Waist: 72cm
Upper arm (flexed): 29.5cm
Mid thigh: 53.5cm
VO2 max: 50.8

Reasonable scores place Amy in the ‘good’ category for body composition. But her V02 max is far and away above the average you’d expect for someone of her age and physique, most likely due to her penchant for other fitness pursuits. There’s room for improvement, though: Amy’s performance under physical demand, at the point of near total fatigue on a treadmill, was below average, something the examiners believe will improve quickly over the course of this challenge. Stay tuned to see how she develops, and pick up tips for yourself along the way.


Elle Linton

Weight: 65.10kg
Body fat: 25.94%
Waist: 57cm
Upper arm (flexed): 31cm
Mid thigh: 70cm
VO2 max: 41.7

Elle impressed with good upper and lower body strength and healthy body composition scores. Her VO2 max score is promising; though not quite of the level it could be, it’s still good for someone of Elle’s age and size – even a couple of weeks in the pool will boost this. The performance tests revealed room for improvement in terms of efficiency and endurance. So improve she shall. Ensure you do the same by checking in each week.


David Shephard

Weight: 72.9kg
Body fat: 10.86%
Waist: 82cm
Upper arm (flexed): 33.5cm
Mid thigh: 50.5cm
VO2 max: 56.4

It’s plain to see that David has an athletic physique to start with, in terms of composition and functionality. With a body fat score akin to that of elite athletes, and an outstanding VO2 max to boot, his gains will be marginal – but it’s the marginal gains that can take regular runners and athletes up to gold standard. The examiners expect incremental developments in musculature and performance under exertion, but minimal changes in body fat. If you’re looking to take your training to the next level, David’s story is the one to follow.