Use this quick, simple fitness test to find out if you are fit as a fiddle… need a little more sweat time… or if a strong healthy body is only a few steps away!
Melanie Douglass, R.D., NASM, Studio 5 Health & Fitness Contributor
Why take a fitness test?
One word: motivation. Additionally, it’s really hard to know if you need improvement if you don’t know where you stand right now. For those of you saying: “yeah, I already know I need improvement”, this little adventure will help you discover your areas of strength and weakness so you can pinpoint fitness programs to help you in the areas you need improvement. You may be able to say: “I need to work on my flexibility, I’m going to stretch 10 minutes everyday” or “I need to improve my upper body strength, I’m going to buy a strength-training DVD workout”, and so forth. Your results will be unique to you and you can decide how to act on them.
How do you know if you “need” a fitness test?
Whether fit, unfit or anywhere in between, a fitness test will help you stay on track. But if you aren’t really sure, here are a couple of signs that may indicate it’s time to think about your fitness level:
– You’re huffing and puffing up one flight of stairs
– You can’t do a single push up
– You don’t workout in public because you don’t want everyone to see how “unfit” you are (or think you are)
– Activities of daily living make you tired: carrying groceries, vacuuming, cleaning, carrying children
How often should you take a fitness test?
A good timeline is every 60 – 90 days. Take the test, set some goals, do the workouts, and – this is the fun part – retake the test in a month or two. Then enjoy the triumphant feeling of improvement and/or success.
*Note: these tests are approximations to be used as fitness markers and motivational tools. Please consult with your doctor before starting this or any exercise program.
There are 4 parts to this Fitness Test:
1. Resting Heart Rate
· It’s best to take your resting heart rate in the morning (or after 5 minutes of calm, deep breathing), before physical activity and before consuming any stimulants like caffeine.
· Take your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 (or you can count out a whole minute)
· Compare your resting heart rate to the following table:
2. Push-up Test
· This is a test for upper body muscular strength and endurance. Push-ups require strength and endurance mainly from the chest, shoulders, triceps and core, but also require total body stabilization throughout the entire movement. So love ’em or hate ’em… they are good for you!
· To do the test, get in push up position (toes for the guys; knees for the ladies!) and place your hands shoulder width apart. Keep a straight line from the knees (or toes) to the shoulders and lower down until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle and push back up. That’s one rep. Now simply see how many you can do… with good form. The second you have to take a rest or lose your form, you’re done. It’s fine to go slow and controlled, just don’t stop your cadence.
3. Sit-up Test
· To do the test, get down on the floor and tuck your feet under a couch or sit-up bar. Place your hands at the base of your head and keep your elbows out wide to the side with your chin lifted. Press your belly button in toward your spine and lift all the way up until your chest is perpendicular to the floor (full sit up). Do as many reps as you can without losing your form. The second your elbows pull in, your chin tucks to your chest, or you simply can’t lift up any more – or if you stop to rest – you are done.
4. The Squat Test
· This test shows if you have any major muscular imbalances and if you have basic strength and flexibility in your arms, core and legs.
· To do the test, stand facing a full-length mirror with feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed straight ahead; raise your arms straight overhead. Squat down until your knees bend to 90 degrees. Do this three times and hold the pose at the lowest point in your third squat. Look closely at your body alignment:
Tally up your score!
6 – 8 points: Share your passion!
· You are rocking it, so keep up the good work and invite your friends and family to get fit with you.
2 – 6 points: Keep working out!
· Focus on the area that was weak, by doing that activity for at least 5 minutes every day (sit ups, push ups, stretching or cardio for a fast heart rate).
0 – 2 points: Make a positive change today!
· Start with 10 minutes of something: stretching, cardio or weights… or all of it. Start small and work up to 30 minutes, most days of the week.
Have fun and email me anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org