It can be really hard to know where to begin, hey!? We get asked a lot by people getting started about whether they need to do some fitness tests when they start out on their fitness journey.
To a large extent, it depends on what you’re looking to achieve through exercise but in most cases, it’s not a bad idea. In saying that, we don’t ever want the results of any fitness test being something you stress over. It really is solely about finding out exactly what you’re able to do when you first get the ball rolling – it should never be used to compare yourself to anyone else or even yourself ten years ago.
Happiness in the present is only shattered by comparison with the past. – Douglas Horton
What’s the point? The point mainly is as a way of showing progress along the way. Sometimes you just want to be able to see that all your hard work is paying off. Sometimes it’s actually just kind of cool to be able to see how much more you can get done in the same timeframe.
We certainly always make a point of doing basic fitness tests for our clients in their one on one training sessions. We love to be able to show them down the track just how much they have achieved. It can be difficult when we’re always stepping things up – it never FEELS easier but significant progress is being made. It’s very easy to forget if you don’t have any measure to go by.
So what kind of fitness tests should you do?
Again, it depends a bit on your goals. If, right now, you are going to focus on getting better with your walking so you can jog in a 5km fun run – perhaps something like measuring how far you can comfortably walk in 10 minutes or how long it takes you to walk a kilometre might be a good starting point. Keep a note of it somewhere and every few weeks, see how much you’ve improved. As you get fitter, you’ll be able to walk faster and fit more into your 10 minutes or get the kilometre done faster.
If you’re out to take a total body, strength and cardio approach to your fitness you might like to do something similar to what we do at my Heidelberg-based personal training studio. We usually will include 5 minutes on the treadmill, 5 minutes on the rower and 5 minutes on the bike for the cardio component. If you’re at home, you probably don’t have all those pieces of equipment so a great alternative that Slim Force’s mobile trainers use with their at-home clients is to set up two cones and record how many times you can walk (or jog) between them in a certain time frame (maybe 2-3 minutes as a starting point).
For the strength component we will typically do exercises such as push ups, step ups, crunches and dips (how many in 30, 45 or 60 seconds) as well as a wall sit and a plank (timed for as long as you can hold them). Not every client does every exercise but they are typically the ones on the fitness assessment sheet. Depending on the client’s goals, we may add some goal specific tests in too.
It’s up to you how much data you’d like to record about where you are starting from but a good starting point is to focus on performing some type of test that relates directly to your main fitness goal (such as the 1km time if you’re wanting to improve your walking and jogging). Recording just one thing is completely fine if it’s something relevant to the type of exercise you’re intending to do.
Remember, when it comes to fitness testing, it’s ALL about you and what YOU can do. Don’t compare what you can do to what anyone else can do. Everyone is different and has a completely unique set of circumstances. Aim to improve on what you can do over a period of time.
If you’re not sure what type of fitness test might be right for you, give us a yell over on our Facebook page and we’ll do our very best to help you find something for you to pop down as your starting baseline.