How Fit Are You REALLY?
Best Tests to Measure Fitness (Surprising Science)
Fitness testing is a key part of the strength and conditioning process and not only can the results be used to direct future programming but also highlight if your training interventions have been effective. It will allow you to goal set more effectively, reflect on your practice and highlight progression or regression. In this article, we will about the best fitness testing methods.
THE VIDEO: How Fit Are You REALLY? Best Tests To Measure Fitness (Surprising Science)
3 Golden rules of fitness testing
When fitness testing, it is important that you follow these 3 golden rules to make your results as representative of individual physical capacity as possible.
You need to make sure your test selection is valid or, in other words, are you testing what you want to test. For example, if you are testing acceleration and you select a 40m sprint test, the chances are you are looking at more top end speed rather than the ability to increase your velocity at a fast rate. You may find improvements or even reductions in performance as a result of your training programme. But if your test is measuring a different physical parameter, how would you know if your athlete’s acceleration has improved? A more valid test would be a 10m sprint test where, the rate of increase in velocity will be the factor responsible for the most variation in results. You need to ask yourself the question, will your test correctly identify changes in a specific physical parameter.
You need to make sure your tests are reliable and repeatable. Imagine you are on the scales which, you know to be a valid measure of testing body mass, but you use them on different surfaces. If you are on a soft surface, the result will be different than you then immediately retest on a hard surface. This difference gives different results depending on the environment. A reliable test will be performed on the same surface, in the same conditions on each occasion.
You want to make sure you are standardising your tests. This increases the reliability and validity of your testing but also reduces between test variation in results due to the testing protocol. Some examples including landing in the same fashion on your jump tests or starting with the same foot forward and distance behind or on the start line for a sprint test. If you are squat testing, you need to standardise the depth of squat, footwear and surface you are squatting on. If you are doing a sprint test with a tail wind, you will run faster than if you are running into a headwind. All these variables can make significant differences in your result but not necessarily due to your training programme. We standardise tests to reduce the occurrence of false positives where, a test wrongly indicates that a change has been made and false negatives where, a no change is detected but there may be improvements or regressions of testing scores.
Order of testing
This is an important factor of any physical testing battery. If you do heavy compound lifts at the start of your testing battery, you will burn out the central nervous system and negatively impact any following power assessments. An ideal assessment structure will work up the force velocity curve, from fast and low load movements to slow and high load movements.
Before a warm up, you can test anthropometrics, height and weight, and flexibility scores before progressing into explosive movements, broad jumps, vertical jumps and sprints. After this, you can perform high load compound exercises, including 1RM, 3RM, 5RM tests depending on the athlete’s training age. After a rest, muscular endurance tests can be performed such as max pull ups and press ups. Once recovered, you can work on the aerobic fitness measures. Examples include the bleep test, yo-yo intermittent recovery test or a max aerobic speed test.
Fitness testing is about following a strict method and removing as many biases as possible producing objective results. Ensure you are using these 3 principles to get the most representative results from your testing battery. Select the right test, standardise your procedures and keep your tests in the same order.