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The Fitness Zone

Challenges to Test Your Fitness!
May 29, 2015 | by

Unsure if that extra cardio or weights session each week is working? Constantly assessing your fitness and your capabilities in an excellent way to workout. Measuring your fitness means you can understand how well you are travelling towards your fitness goals and whether you need to change your routine, weights or exercises in order to continue reaching your goals. One way that you can assess your fitness is through fitness tests. They needn’t be difficult in order to give you a better idea of how you are going with your workouts.  Australian Institute of Fitness Western Australia Training Team Captain, Tallan Ames, talks all things fitness tests!  

Why test?

Many people don’t test themselves, which is a completely personal choice. Although some people are happy to travel along without testing themselves periodically, doing so can help you immensely. There are many benefits of physical testing and evaluation! They can:

  • Provide baseline measures

  • Enables you to re-test and monitor progress

  • Monitors the adaptation of the program based on results

  • Provides personal motivation

  • Identify your weaknesses and strengths

  • Provides incentives when you reach your goals or can complete certain tasks

What test should I choose?

There are plenty of different ways you can test yourself. With many different tests and types of tests, it’s important to think about what you are trying to test and which test will be the best one to utilise to measure what you need. When considering what test to use for your training goals , here are a few things to take into account:

  • Principle of specificity

  • Energy system utilisation of the sport/activity

  • Specific movement patterns used in the sport/activity

  • Muscle groups involved in the sport/activity

Static tests

These tests involve measuring resting heart rate (RHR) and blood pressure (BP), while also assessing anthropometric data and body composition including skin folds and girth measurements. Anthropometric data collection is the measurement of height, weight and selected body fat deposit sites and limb girths. This is a great way to see results over time and keep track of your progress along the way.

Aerobic capacity tests

Also called aerobic power, this is the maximum rate at which you can produce energy through oxidation of energy resources (carbohydrate, fats and proteins). Tests can include:

  • 1.5km run

  • 9 or 12 minute run test

  • Harvard step test

  • 20m multistage fitness test (Beep Test)

  • A brisk walk of approximately 1.6km  and checking your heart rate after the session

Anaerobic Capacity Tests:

This is the maximal rate of energy production by the combination of phosphate and lactic acid energy systems for short to moderate duration activities. Anaerobic tests can include:

  • Shuttle run variations

  • Line drill variations e.g., Union Jack drill

  • Sprinting short distances

Maximum muscular strength tests

This is the force a muscle can exert in one maximum lift. Due to the high amount of force generally lifted and the advanced technique required, it is possible to increase repetitions and decrease mass lifted to avoid any potential harm to your client. Maximum strength tests usually include strength exercises such as:

  • 1 Repetition Maximum (1RM) bench press

  • 1RM back squat

Agility tests

This is defined as the ability to start, stop and change direction at a high velocity in a controlled manner. Agility tests require a lot of control at high speeds, therefore a flat non-slip surface with appropriate footwear is required to limit potential for injury. Agility tests can include:

  • T-Test (shown below)

  • Illinois agility test

  • 10-second Lateral Hopping Agility Drill



Speed tests

This is defined as the time taken to cover a fixed pre-set distance. Tests usually involve distances not exceeding 150m and generally involve distances set at:

  • 20m

  • 40m

  • 60m

  • 100m

Flexibility tests

These can be defined as the ability of the body’s joints to move through a range of motion. Measurement can involve devices such as a goniometer, which measures joint angle. Because flexibility is joint specific, a range of flexibility tests are required to gain an understanding of total body flexibility.

Upper body strength

You don’t need any equipment for this simple test and simply looks at how many push ups can be achieved. This test is designed to test upper body strengths with a closer look at chest, shoulders and triceps. Recording how many push ups you can achieve over time can help determine if you are getting fitter and stronger.

Core strength test

Another great test to look at the strength of your core is the simple plank. Your core, which is made up of your torso, abdominals, obliques, your glutes and a range of other smaller muscles can be strength tested by performing a plank. The plank also works on the lower back, hips and buttocks. Timing the length of time a plank can be held can determine your core strength. Building on this time will enable you to test if yours is getting stronger each time. A great way to improve your plank time is to focus on lifts such as squats, deadlifts and bent over rows.

Balance testing

As we age, our balance skills can deteriorate which can lead to unnecessary injury. Having a good sense of balance can also improve posture, blood flow and back health. Testing your balance can be as simple as standing on one leg at a time and tracking your time you can stay balanced. Increase this test by standing on your balancing foot on just the ball of your foot. 

About

Tallan is the Training Team Captain at the Australian Institute of Fitness in WA. He has been in the fitness industry for over 11 years, and has had over 200 WAFL games for Swan Districts Football Club, as well as appearances for WA.

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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