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Kirbyson tries training camp fitness tests

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In preparation for the 1962-63 hockey season, George "Punch" Imlach, esteemed coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, sent a letter to each of his players outlining what was expected of them once they arrived at training camp.

They were instructed to bring their golf clubs and report to camp no more than seven pounds above their playing weight. They would be subjected to fitness tests and would be required to do a MINIMUM of 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups and 30 knee bends.

Holy cats, what a difference a half-century makes.

In this week’s Jetcetera report, Geoff Kirbyson is put through the modern day equivalent. It’s a pretty complicated procedure but let’s just say there are no "knee bends."

Part 1: The V02 Max Test: This is essentially a stress test on a cycle ergometer, or a fancy stationary bike. Kirbyson was hooked up to a turbine ventilometer to measure his peak oxygen uptake while a heart-rate monitor calculated his pulse. Every couple of minutes, the resistance on the bike was increased. The test is over when you can’t keep up the necessary RPMs.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your cardiac defibrillators!

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Part 2: Strength and Endurance: This kind of testing could be done in any gym around town. It involves doing squats with three-quarters of your body weight on your back, full sit-ups (no crunches!), a bench press (which he didn’t do due to a wrist injury) and jumping left and right as many times as you can in 30 seconds.

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Part 3: The Wingate Test: When you hear professional athletes complain about training camp, this is why.

This test is designed to measure all-out peak anaerobic power and anaerobic capacity. In sports that require quick sprints, such as hockey, the higher the score, the better.

The athlete is required to pedal 140 to 150 rpms and then hit a button which drops nearly 10 per cent of their body weight of resistance on the bike. Then you have to pedal as hard as you can for 30 seconds. It seems easy but while you’re doing it, you feel the stopwatch has been replaced by a sun dial.

It’s sort of like cycling down a steep hill and then hitting a giant stretch of quick sand.

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