There are so many different fitness tests and methods of testing different components of fitness. One of the benefits of fitness testing is they are used to establish the strengths and weaknesses of an individual and see the areas of which need improvement. For beginners and athletes alike they are a great way to see starting points on which to benchmark from that in turn you can monitor progress. The common tests are the components of physical fitness. Flexibility, Muscular strength and endurance, Cardiovascular fitness, Body composition. . A baseline is especially important if you are about to embark on a new training phase and by repeating tests at regular intervals, you can get an idea of the effectiveness of the training programme. There is a wide variety of tests available to individuals but below are the most common.
- Flexibility (Sit and reach test)
- Strength (Grip dynamometer)
- Muscular Endurance (one-minute press up/sit up)
- Aerobic Endurance (two minute Step test)
- Speed (Sprint test)
- Body composition (skinfold calipers)
Flexibility Sit & Reach Test
“The sit and reach test is a common measure of flexibility, and specifically measures the flexibility of the lower back and hamstring muscles.” (http://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/sit-and-reach.htm).
When measuring your flexibility by this method you will sit in front of a ledge that is at least higher than your feet and ten place a ruler on top of the ledge on the same place where your toes should be. Then without bending your knees try to reach for your toes as far as you can if you can reach your toes then your result will be negative however if you manage to reach your toes then you have to measure how far past your toes you can reach. Use the ruler to measure how far you actually reach out.
Strength Grip Dynamometer
“The purpose of this test is to measure the maximum isometric strength of the hand and forearm muscles. Handgrip strength is important for any sport in which the hands are used for catching, throwing or lifting.” (http://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/handgrip.htm).
Also generally it is known that when a person has strong hands then this person will be strong overall. This means that this test is used to see general strength of a person. To carry this test out all you have to do is grab the griper like in the picture at a right angle to your body so that your elbow is resting by the side of your side and then you must squeeze the dynamo meter as much as possible using all the strength you have. You must not move during this test and also you should give all your effort. Carry this test out 3 times then add up your answer and divide your total answer by 3 to get a overall average of your strength.
Muscular Endurance One-Minute Press Ups/Sit Ups
“The push-up fitness test (also called the press up test) measures upper body strength and endurance.” (http://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/push-up.htm).
This test is really simple and don’t really need any equipment except a stop watch to count the full minute that you should do this muscular endurance test. Your aim is to do as many press ups as possible in the time given. The position you should be in is the traditional press up position as you can see in the image above. However you can modify these with having your knees on the floor. Also try doing all press ups correctly by keeping a straight body without sticking your bum out and try to go as low as having your chest 3 inches away from the ground.
Aerobic Endurance Two Minute Step Test
“step tests have been developed to measure aerobic fitness using a simple test requiring minimal equipment and space.” (http://topendsports.com/testing/tests/step.htm).
However, even though this test requires minimal equipment you should use a heart rate monitor that you wear during the exercise to get more accurate results. Watch the video below to find out how the 2 minute step test is carried out.
Speed Sprint Test
“The purpose of this test is to determine acceleration, maximum running speed and speed endurance, depending on the distance run.” (http://topendsports.com/testing/tests/sprint.htm).
The test involves running a single maximum sprint over a set distance, with time recorded. After a standardized warm up, the test is conducted over a certain distance, such as 10, 20, 40 and/or 50 meters or yards, depending on the sport and what you are trying to measure. The starting position should be standardized, starting from a stationary position with a foot behind the starting line, with no rocking movements. If you have the equipment (e.g. timing gates), you can measure the time to run each split distances (e.g. 5, 10, 20m) during the same run, and then acceleration and peak velocity can also be determined. It is usual to give the athletes an adequate warm-up and practice first, and some encouragement to continue running hard past the finish line.
Body Composition Skin fold Callipers!
“Taking skin-fold measurements is a common method for determining body fat composition.” (http://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/skinfolds.htm).
You should take the measurements in the correct places. Below is an outline of where you should take the measurements from. This list is not exhaustive of the number sites for taking measurements however are the most common areas. To begin, pinch the fat with your thumb and forefinger and place the calliper then take the reading from the calliper. Do each place 3 times then add your results and divide by 3 to get an average. Do this for every site you used the callipers. Add all your averages up and see what is your fat measurement and compare it to the national averages.
Standard Skinfold Sites
Individually, these tests wouldn’t really say much only give you the measurement what they have been used to gather however, put them all together and you will get a reasonably accurate picture of an individual’s level of fitness. Of course there are all manner of tests available to conduct and you will want to tailor it per individual’s needs. If someone isn’t looking to increase their average sprint time then don’t undertake a sprint test and likewise if you have someone that is looking to increase the cardio endurance then a really useful initial test would be a VO2 max test.
All in all, testing is a great tool and even if our goals are not sports orientated we should all make a conscious effort to know how physically fit we are. You never know, you might even surprise yourself!