How fit are you, really? Can you hold a plank for more than 20 seconds? What does your squat look like? Whether you're a newbie or a regular gym goer, it's essential to know your fitness level. This will help determine how far you got and what can be improved.
For instance, if you've been working out for a few months, it should be easy to do at least 10 push-ups with perfect form. After a few years of training, pull-ups and chin-ups shouldn’t be an issue.
Fitness isn't about muscle building or weight loss, but about health. Physically fit people get sick less often, have greater energy, and feel more confident. Their immune system is stronger, which helps prevent diseases.
Not sure where all this is going? We’ve got your answers here:
Why Measure Your Fitness Level?
Measuring your fitness level regularly is the best way to track your progress. Let's say you've started to work out to drop a few pounds. Even if your weight stays the same, you'll get stronger and build lean mass. Weight loss isn't an indicator of your fitness level. Or perhaps you're the skinny type. Just because you're slim despite lifting heavy, it doesn't mean you're not making progress.
Nowadays, most gyms feature fancy devices that can assess your muscular strength, endurance, and body composition. However, these services cost quite a lot. Unless you’re an athlete or personal trainer, you really don’t need this stuff. For the start, measure your fitness level at home by doing some exercise tests. When you're done, work on your weak areas.
For example, if you're unable to hold a plank long enough, add more core exercises to your routine. Do Russian twists, hanging leg raises, weighted crunches, reverse crunches, and plank variations.
In case you can't do push-ups, focus on building arm strength. Increase the weights you're using, experiment with bodyweight exercises, and perform compound movements. This will increase your strength, flexibility, aerobic endurance, and stamina. On top of that, you'll get leaner and build muscle.
Let's cut the chase and see the four exercises tests for measuring your fitness level:
Planks strengthen your core and improve posture. To do this exercise, lie facedown with your elbows bent under the shoulders. Keep your legs fully extended and your back straight. Look right in front of you. Squeeze your abs. Place a water bottle lengthwise on your lower back.
Maintain this position for as long as possible. The water bottle should not move or roll around. If it does, you're having bad form. Ideally, you should be able to hold the plank for at least 20 seconds. Beginners should aim for 10 to 20 seconds.
The Overhead Squat
This exercise test helps measure your stability and range of motion. Stand up straight with your legs shoulder-width apart. Slowly bend your knees and bring your hips back while raising your arms up into the air. Maintain a neutral spine and look straight ahead. Keep your abs tight. Your knees should be in line with your toes.
If your torso stays upright and your hips get below the knees, you're in great shape. In case your torso leans forward and your hips go above the knees, your form needs improvement.
The YMCA Step Test
The YMCA Step Test assesses your aerobic endurance. All you need is a 12-inch wooden box or stepper, a metronome (or smartphone app), a timer, and a heart rate monitor.
Set the timer to three minutes and the metronome to 96 beats per minute. Stand in front of the box. Turn on the timer and march up and down on the box to the metronome beat for three minutes.
When you're done, check your heart rate for 15 seconds. If your heart rate is higher than 120 beats per minute, you need to work on your fitness level. A heart rate below 90 BPM indicates a great fitness level.
The Bottoms-Up Push-up
This test will measure your upper body strength. Simple lay face down with your hands placed firmly on the ground under your shoulders. Keep your legs extended, with the toes grounded into the floor. Your body should form a straight line.
Squeeze your core and glutes and lower your body until your chest touches the floor. Keep your elbows close to your body at all times. If you can complete one rep while maintaining a straight line from head to toe, your fitness level is really good. If your hips sag toward the ground, work on improving your form.
Try these exercises and let us know how it goes!
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