How Fit Are You? Try These Fitness Tests Today…
Years ago, before the evolution of sport science, physical fitness was identified with endurance.
It was widely believed that a person who can complete a distance run at the fastest possible time was more fit than those who finished behind him.
Because endurance became synonymous with fitness, many coaches included the long distance run or “road work” in their athletes’ training regimen.
Four time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali would run 8 kilometers every day while wearing his beloved “Brogans” or weighted military boots when training for a fight.
But if endurance was the hallmark of fitness would it be accurate to say that 2015 New York Marathon winner Stanley Biwott is fitter than “World’s Fastest Man” 100 metre Olympic champion Usain Bolt?
The truth is your level of fitness cannot be determined by endurance alone.
Other factors such as strength, agility, power, flexibility and coordination have to be considered.
A Navy Seal would not outrun Biwott in the marathon but chances are Biwott would not post better numbers in the Navy Seal fitness test.
Fitness tests are not limited to competitive athletes. Every person who is concerned about his health and well-being should subject themselves to fitness tests.
Fitness tests are used to determine the following:
• Current level of health
• Uncover problem areas and physical limitations
• Identify motivations for exercise
• Track training progress
• Find the appropriate training methodologies
Improving your level of fitness will go a long way in improving your overall health and wellness.
If you are fit, your body’s different systems will function more efficiently.
You will move better, breathe easier, function more efficiently and be more resilient to illness and infections.
There are many ways to test your level of fitness.
Here are five (5) of the most popular methods:
1. The Bruce Treadmill Test Protocol
This was a treadmill test designed by Dr. Robert Bruce for patients suspected of having cardiovascular disease.
As a fitness test, this is used to estimate the VO2max capacity of athletes.
VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen an athlete uses up during an intense period of exercise.
The Bruce Protocol measured VO2max by having the athlete undergo different intervals on the treadmill.
The speed and percentage of incline of the treadmill increases every three- minute interval. The objective is for the athlete to hit a level of exhaustion.
2. 12- Minute Run Test
Designed by Dr. Ken Cooper, the 12- Minute Test Run is intended to measure an athlete’s VO2max.
According to Dr. Cooper, there appears to be a correlation between the distance covered by someone who runs or walks and the VO2max capacity.
The test is easy to perform: just run as far as you can for 12 minutes.
For males aged 20- 29, a person who can cover a distance of 2.8 kmis considered in excellent fitness. For females aged 20- 29, the distance covered should be 2.7 km.
3. Core Muscle Strength and Stability Test
We always hear people say core strength is very important.
Personal trainers are constantly urging their trainees to do exercises that strengthen their core.
Athletes are even arguing among themselves that their sport works the core more than others.
But what exactly are the core muscles? These are the underlying muscles of the torso that work to support posture.
More popularly, people refer to them as the abdominal muscles. There are many benefits to having a strong core:
• Generate more power
• Prevent lower back injury
• Better stability
• Better mobility
You can see the value of a strong core in sports that greatly utilize the hips and the lower back such as throws, overhead and lateral movement.
These include MMA, Olympic weight- lifting, baseball, tennis and football.
4. Sit and Reach Flexibility Test
One of the most misunderstood yet most neglected aspects of fitness training is flexibility.
Go to any commercial gym and not many trainers do proper stretching exercises.
The reason is stretching when done properly is not a pleasant experience!
But gaining flexibility through stretching has many benefits:
• Less back pain
• Greater range of motion
• Decreased risk of injury
• Improved circulation
A simple test to do to check on your flexibility is the Sit and Reach test.
It is very easy to do: just sit on the floor, stretch out your legs and move slowly forward until you can touch your toes.
The further you can stretch out past the level of your toes, the better your flexibility.
For men, excellent flexibility is measured at 34 centimetres and for women it is at 37 centimetres.
5. The Shuttle Run
This is an old schoolyard favorite by Physical Education coaches to measure a student’s speed and agility.
Agility is the body’s ability to change direction at any given time with very little effort.
The best athletes are often regarded as those with the highest levels of agility.
In professional football, the running back best personifies agility. They run at full speed, often changing directions to avoid onrushing linebackers.
With The Shuttle Run, an athlete will do an all- out sprint to the first cone measured 25 yards (22 metres) from the second cone.
He then turns around and sprints to the second cone. That is one interval.
Usually, there is a 15- 20 second rest period between intervals to allow the athlete some recovery time.
After all, the Shuttle Run is not an endurance test.
He does this for six (6) intervals totaling 300 yards (274 metres).
In the military, men are declared fit if they can complete the run in 52 seconds and the women in 58 seconds.
Former US President George W. Bush was a fitness fanatic. Reports say he could run a mile (1.6km) in under nine minutes.
There were videos of the 43rd President of the United States bench pressing what looked like prodigious weights at 63 years old.
Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat is an ardent follower of “The Spartacus Workout” a routine that combines calisthenics and weight- training done as complex interval routines. According to Corbat “The Spartacus Workout” helps “torch bodyfat”.
The bottom- line is you don’t have to be a competitive athlete to be concerned about your level of fitness.
Everyone who wants to live a long, healthy and well life should include fitness among his priorities.
And you don’t have to run a marathon to prove it!