How to Track Your Fitness
One of the best things about getting fit is not always losing weight. The thing that my clients are the most proud of is how they move. It is really a wonder to take new actions and discover all of your movements are easier, they have more flow; where you once struggled, you now move with a bit of grace. This is the feeling that really keeps you coming back to the gym - the feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of winning. This is why keeping track of you fitness is a best way to see your progress.
If your goals are to look good naked or not jiggle, you might be working (and miserably working) for a long time with little success. Why? Because those goals have no measurability. You cannot really know when you have achieved anything. Beauty or “The Perfect Weight” is elusive and hard to define as race and morals. There is no defined line.
In addition to being elusive, just "losing weight" is sometimes harmful to your health after the age of 30 or 35. By getting slimmer and not fitter, you are losing muscle as well. This type of pure weight loss leads to osteoporosis - you know, that disease the kills old people when they break a bone.
Fitness on the other hand is easy to measure and track. It is easy to improve and you can incorporate it into every activity you do. Getting skinny doesn’t help you enjoy traveling more because you can walk for hours on end, ski more slopes or carry more gifts from airport to airport. Nor does getting skinny help you move your couch when vacuuming, walk up and down a ladder safely or survive a fall. I rather be fit than skinny.
My point? Toss the scale and track your fitness. The only numbers you need to know are quickest times, number of repetitions and how fast your heart rate recovers after maximal physical activity. Finding these numbers is much more fun than looking over you belly at your toes.
Here are some of my favourite fitness tests for all kinds of fitness goals. Perform these these tests either every month (that is very often) or at the beginning of each season. It is the most fun when you choose a few of these tests; 3-5 different kinds of test will give you a good idea of your overall fitness. Remember to perform the same tests to see improvement. If you are looking to compete or know you ultimate fitness capacity, such as VO2 Max tests, I recommend you see a sports doctor.
Cardiovascular fitness: The 2 km run test; how fast can you run 2 km? This test is good to gauge your cardiac output - but run as fast as possible. Use this run as a benchmark. if possible, take your pulse before, after and 2 minutes after the run. Your ability to quickly return to normal heart function is also a good indicator or your cardiac health. To find out how your fitness ranks with medical professionals, I highly recommend measuring how far you walk or run in 12 minutes. That information, along with your age can be used to determine your cardiovascular health. Look up “12 min Walk/Run Test” to see your score.
Power: Preform a 1 rep max of bench press, squat and deadlift, also known as the powerlifting total. This is a great test for weight lifters, as it test you max load capacity. These three moves involve all of the major muscle groups in the body. Other good lifts to test your power are cleans, snatches and presses.
Strength, sometimes Muscular Endurance: Testing scores are numbers of repetitions or max weight used at prescribed number. Weight and speed is a great combination to test strength - your ability for high volume lifting. My favourite test is max rep of kettlebell snatches or swings in 5 minutes. Other great tests for this category are max push up test, max pull up test, max sit up test, 20 RM (rep max: score for weight) back squat, 5 RM bench press.
Endurance: 30 min cycle test (for distance), 500 m swim, 2000m row. Basically how fast you can preform work for an extended distance or period of time. Endurance tests usually last anywhere from 6 to 45 minutes. You testing can depend on you interest in sports activities. If you are an average fitness buff, 500m swims and mid distance runs work well - activities that takes 5 to 15 minutes. For the endurance athlete, you may want to go on a 5km or 10km run and see how well you pace each kilometre ran.
Competition: There is nothing like knowing how well you perform under pressure. You ultimately test your fitness by preparing it first. Sign up for a triathlon, distance run or local crossfit throw down. Many times you can reach score that just aren’t possible under quite normal testing conditions. Sometimes the pressure, noise and energy from people cheering you on is enough to squeeze that bit of Superman out of you and top all of what you thought possible from your body