Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Testing time

The new year has dawned and if you have set goals and/or challenges most likely at least one is health and fitness related. If your a physical enthusiast already this article will also be of some help. You see when you open a bank account it starts with zero and you put money into it. You can always see a balance and understand how your money is going. The human body is a little bit different. Often we will see if we put on fat mass or muscle mass, it can be quite obvious. But other markers used in health and fitness are a little less easy to see and should to be measured. After all how do you know if you are improving?

There are thousands of tests we could do. To be honest a blood test is a great idea I think. You can get an idea about how things are going. This can be done via doctors, in some countries private companies can provide these kinds of services. But within the realm of health and fitness is exercise, to improve you will most likely be using some form of plan. Whether you're chasing a stronger squat or maybe you want to run a certain distance in a certain time, there will be a test of some kind that can be used to find where you're at. Now it is important that you choose a test that is valid for what you want to test. You wouldn't use a strength based test to test aerobic endurance. Please remember the law of specificity applies and some tests will have a skill component. There are plenty of studies about some tests having a higher skill based component then others e.g vertical leap, higher skilled jumpers can jump higher.

I am going to write about two tests you can use and either you may love or hate. These can be used to give you a baseline of where you are at. The first one is a staple and you probably have done it and hate it. The (cue the evil music) beep test. The beep test or multi stage fitness test is still used by many organisations. The test allows you to test how much oxygen your body can maximally uptake. It uses running a very common form of exercise and it relates heavily to the cardiovascular system, endurance and aerobic capacity. This test is also simple to do and yes you could do other tests some can cost you a great deal of money that will test these variables. The beep test is conducted over 20m(65ft) and you can find a mp3 or a youtube video online. You really just need to find a suitable area to set up some markers of some kind and after a suitable warm up ,start the mp3 and take the test. Be sure to record what number you finish on. You can use the resources posted here to help fill in the gaps. Be aware this is a maximal test and you should be of some reasonable shape with no health problems, particularly cardiovascular problems. For those of you that can't take this test you can do a sub max test such as a Rockport fitness test.

Now for the second test maximal strength, I am throwing one out I love, the one repetition maximum (1rm). This is a max strength test that can be done with many different exercises such as the bench press, squat and dead lift. Generally the 1rm isn't done with isolation exercises such as the bicep curl. It is a hard test and does rely somewhat on how skilled you are at the movement. As with many tests motivation will also be a factor. This test though on paper can seem simple but start and light and work your way up.Yes there is a protocol to follow and it is important to note whilst there is a protocol there is still some debate about how to best find the 1rm. Use this video as it shows the protocol for the Bench press and use the percentage changes and rest times. This protocol can be used for for other exercises. Make sure you have a spotter and if you are new to all of this preferably get some help from someone with experience.Consider using the 5rm or 10rm which means you will use lighter weight and in theory limit the chance of injury. After you have this 1rm you can use a calculator to find out the various percentages. By the way calculators will use different equations, this one gives some different equation answers so you can choose.

Now be warned these are tests and if you are not up to it or max testing is contradicted you can use other tests. Make sure the test is actually testing what you want to test and make sure you can do it safely and it is repeatable to be tested in 6-12 weeks. I would love to hear about what tests you chose and why and what you got on them. Comment below and share.

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