Do you know your fitness level?
If you’re getting started with a new fitness plan, or want to improve your fitness level, you need to have a way that you can monitor your progress. As Samantha Clayton, director of Worldwide Fitness Education at Herbalife explains.
How will you know if you’ve improved without knowing where you started?
You can monitor changes in body composition in many ways. You can successfully keep track of your weight loss and body fat percentage using a scale and take various circumference measurements around your body using a tape measure, but in order to evaluate your fitness level you have to get physical and perform a workout.
“A fitness test does not have to be complicated, you can do one that is specific to your personal hobby such as a running test, or for general fitness you can measure several components of fitness such as flexibility, strength and cardiovascular fitness. There are several standard fitness tests that you can try but I recommend that you design one that’s personal to you because, unless you are an athlete or planning to join the armed forces, you don’t need to compare your results to any of the standard testing charts. This means you can have fun designing your own fitness test,” Samantha adds.
The sole purpose of performing a fitness test is for self- evaluation and to monitor your progress.
Here are some simple fitness tests you can try as stand-alone tests or in combination to make your own unique formula:
Push-up fitness test
This is a great test because you’re testing your total body strength. Aim to use the standard “military style” push up position with only your hands and the toes touching the floor in the starting position. If needed you can modify and use the “bent knee” push up position.
To do this, kneel on the floor, hands on either side of your chest and keep your back straight. Lower your chest down towards the floor. Always go down to the same level each time; either until your elbows are at right angles or your chest touches the ground.
Do as many push-ups as you can, push yourself until you can’t do any more. If you need more of a challenge, test yourself with more advanced diamond push-ups or do them on a stability ball. For more inspiration and to check that your form is correct watch my YouTube video: How to do a Perfect Push Up.
Fitness Test: Count the total number of push-ups performed, as you get stronger and better with your technique you should see the number rise.
Sit-up fitness test
This sit-up challenge is great for evaluating your core stability. A standard sit-up test measures the strength and endurance of your abdominal and hip-flexor muscles. For this fitness test, see how many sit-ups you can do in 60 seconds.
Lie on a carpeted or cushioned floor with your knees bent at approximately right angles, with your feet flat on the ground. Your hands should be resting on your thighs. Contract your core muscles, push your back flat and raise high enough for your hands to slide along your thighs to touch the tops of your knees. Don’t pull up with you neck or head and keep your lower back on the floor. Then gently return to lying on the floor. Each time you return to the floor count is a count of one sit-up / crunch.
Fitness Test: Note how many sit-ups you completed with good form. As your core gets stronger, you should see a rise in the number of crunches you can perform.
Step-up fitness test
The step-up test is a standard exercise test designed to measure your cardiovascular endurance by monitoring your heart rate before and after the exercise.
When possible use a 30cm high bench (or a similar sized stair or sturdy box).
Step on and off the box for three minutes. Step up with one foot and then the other. Step down with one foot followed by the other foot. Try to maintain a steady and consistent pace.
Fitness Test: Before starting the test count your pulse for 60 seconds, then start stepping. After stepping for three minutes take your pulse again for 60 seconds. Make a note of resting heart rate before the test and your post-exercise heart rate after stepping. Over time as your fitness level improves, your resting heart rate may lower and your post exercise heart rate numbers may also decrease.
Pull-up fitness test
The pull-up test/chin-up test is great for measuring upper body muscular strength and endurance.
You need to use a horizontal overhead bar, at a height so that you can hang with your arms fully extended and your feet don’t touch the floor. You can hold the bar using either an overhand grip (palms facing away from body) or underhand grip (palms facing toward body), with your arms fully extended.
For the pull-up test, you need to do is raise your body until your chin clears the top of the bar, then gently lower again to the starting position with your arms fully extended. The pull-ups should be done in a smooth motion. Jerky movements, swinging the body, and kicking or bending your legs shouldn’t be counted.
Fitness Test: Try to do as many full pull-ups as you can with good form. This test is good for helping you to improve technique and body control as well as improving your strength. Pull-ups are an old classic. If you can’t manage to do full pull-ups, consider using a low bar and doing a modified version.
How to create your own unique fitness test
You can do a fitness test using any exercise that you want, the main thing you need to do is decide if you are going to work to a time or until you can’t continue completing the exercise with good form then simply record your results. Your ultimate aim is to monitor your success and improvement so be sure to make accurate notes and re-test yourself every few weeks to spot any improvement.
“My personal fitness test is what I call my ‘pick six’. I perform as many of the following exercises as I can do in 60 seconds. I have six exercises that I do without rest, which is why I call it my personal pick six fitness test. I do my fitness test the same order each time I test myself to ensure I record accurate results. I often use my fitness test as a workout by repeating it four times through with a three minutes rest between each set. It’s tough and a great physical challenge,” she advises.
Samantha’s six fitness test picks:
– Jumping split squat
– Bicycle abs
– Mountain climbers
– Push- ups
– Box jumps