Do A Physical Fitness Assessment To Keep Track Of Your Fitness Progress
Doing a physical fitness assessment is essential for making real progress with your fitness. Without it, you're running blind. You can't know for sure whether your training is helping or not.
Sure, in the beginning you might strengthen and tone by doing a few exercises here and there. But once you get past the "honeymoon stage" your body won't respond as well to your training.
Do you remember from the principles of fitness training that everyone's body is different? What works for your best friend won't necessarily work well for you. This is where a physical fitness assessment can help. It tells you if your training is working for you specifically.
On this page you'll find all the information you need to do a full physical fitness assessment in your own home. The physical fitness assessment is made up of several tests which measure different components of your fitness.
Once you've completed a test, write down your result and the date. Keep these with your fitness training plans. Then when it comes time for re-testing you'll easily be able to look back and see your progress.
The Physical Fitness Assessment
1. Strength Assessment
You measure strength by using what's called a 1-repetition-maximum or 1RM. This basically means the heaviest weight you can complete 1 repetition of.
- Choose the exercise you want to test.
- Get a spotter...even better, get 2 spotters.- Important!
- Lift the heaviest weight you think you can manage. Do as many reps of it as you can while still keeping good form.
- If you can manage 3 before failure, that weight is known as your 3RM.
- Wait for 3 minutes and try again with a heavier weight. This time you might only be able to manage 1. This is your 1RM. (Keep repeating step 5 until you reach this weight). Try to lift your maximum on the first go or else you'll get tired and not have a true reading of your maximum strength.
This test can be extremely dangerous. Testing your maximum strength puts you at risk of muscle tears or even being crushed by a barbell. If you are going to do this test, make sure:
- You do it with spotters
- You stop once you lose your form
- You consider using the alternative method described below.
An alternative to the 1RM is to just do your 3RM or 5RM. From this result you can figure out relatively accurately your 1RM. Say for example that your 3RM was 190lb (86kg). From the table below you can see that 190lb is 93% of your 1RM. So you multiply 190 by (100/93) to get 204lbs (92kg). That is your 1RM.
|Max Reps (RM)||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||12||15|
This method has the advantage of being slightly less dangerous than the 1RM. But you still need to be careful.
2. Muscular Endurance Assessment
The general method for endurance tests is to pick an exercise and see how long you can keep doing it - with good form.
For example, a popular test for your upper body is the pressup test.
- Setup a metronome with a beep every 3 seconds.
- Do pressups in time with the metronome. Up and down in 3 seconds.
- Count the number of pressups you can do with good form.
This test is exactly the same for chinups, situps, squats, crunches etc. As long as you use a metronome you'll have consistent tests each time you do them.
3. Aerobic Fitness Tests
The aerobic fitness tests below are the best for a home physical fitness assessment. They're easy to complete and give easy-to-measure results.
In the following tests, you need to measure your heart rate. You can do this by feeling your pulse for 15 seconds and multiplying by 4. You'll know that you've made progress if your heart rate is lower the next time you test.
- Find a step somewhere at your house, it should be about 40cm high.
- Using a metronome, step up and down at a rate of 30bpm.
- Keep going for 5 minutes and measure your heart rate at the end.
Do you have an exercise bike or treadmill at home? These are perfect for measuring your aerobic fitness. You can use them at a set difficulty to keep your tests consistent.
- Either use a built in program or a set difficulty level. Tom uses the "Fitness test" setting on his stationary exercise bike. He cycles at a set speed of 80rpm. You can use whatever settings you want, just make sure they are the same each time you do the test.
- Run or cycle for a period of 15 mins.
- Measure your heart rate at the end.
4. Flexibility Tests
Flexibility tests are measurements of how far you can stretch.
The most common ones we've seen are the sit and reach test and the arm raise test. These ones are popular because they're very easy to measure. Measuring the flexibility of other body parts isn't as simple. Although with a bit of imagination, a ruler and consistent testing procedure there's no reason why you can't do it.
Sit and reach:
- Sit on your bottom and reach for your toes.
- Measure how far your fingers go past your toes. Or in the case of tight hamstrings, measure how far away your fingers are from your toes.
- Hold a stick in your hands with a 10cm gap between them.
- Lie face down on the ground in the superman position.
- Raise your arms as high as you can without lifting your head & shoulders.
- Get someone else to measure how high you raise it.
5. Body Composition Testing
There are three relatively easy methods of measuring your body composition at home.
1. Body fat calipers
Body fat calipers are cheap and have good enough accuracy for measuring your progress. Fat calipers are used to measure skin fold measurements. The thicker the fold the greater the fat content. Fat calipers normally come with instructions telling you how to use them properly.
2. Body fat scales
Body fat scales are a little more expensive but a lot easier to use. All you need to do is hop on and it will tell you your body fat %age.
3. Take a photo
This is our favorite method. You actually get to see with your own eyes the progress you've made, side by side. It's probably the most motivating test you can do.
- Stand in front of a bare wall
- Wear something small so you can see a lot of your body... or go starkers!
- Don't try to suck in or push out your tummy.
- Stand up tall
Do this physical fitness assessment when you start your training plan. It's easy to do at home and will reveal some incredibly valuable information. Repeat the physical fitness assessment every month. This keeps you on the right track and shows you how much you've improved.
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