If, like many people around the world, you intend to kick start your year with a new fitness regime, it may be useful to find out exactly where you are starting in terms of your current levels of strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness. This provides you with an idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can design a tailor-made program based on your physiological needs and also gives you some useful measures that you can monitor over the coming year to assess the success of your training program.
We have selected a group of tests to assess your all-round fitness so it’s important you do them all. However, if you have a particular interest in one area, for example cardiovascular fitness, feel free to focus on that particular test. General exercises should be looking to perform equally well in all the tests.
Because fitness tests are challenging, it is essential you warm up properly. Perform a few minutes of cardio followed by some dynamic stretches then practice the techniques of each test at a low level of intensity. Only attempt the test once you are ready. Also, if you want to score as well as possible, perform different tests on different days and make sure you are as well rested as possible. It is not a good idea to attempt a maximal speed 1.5 mile run the day after a hard leg workout!
Strength, commonly expressed as your one repetition maximum or 1RM for short, is all about exerting maximal effort and lifting the heaviest weight you can safely manage. You can measure the strength of just about any muscle or muscle group but in terms of function, your ability to pick heavy objects off the floor and lift them overhead are key tasks excellent measures of strength. For this reason, your strength tests are the deadlift and barbell overhead press.
For the purposes of these tests, a beginner has been training specifically for strength for six to nine months, an intermediate for more than eighteen months and advanced for twenty four months or more. All weights have been adjusted to the nearest 2.5kg as this is commonly the lowest increment available.
If you don’t fancy trying an all out 1RM test, you can predict your 1RM using this simple calculation:
Weight lifted x maximum repetitions performed x 0.0333 + weight lifted = estimated 1RM
For accuracy, try to max out using 10 reps or less.
For example; 45kgs x 7 repetitions = 315 x 0.0333 = 10.49 + 45 = 55.48kgs (round up or down to nearest 2.5/5kg to find your estimated 1RM)
Rest a barbell on the floor and attach the correct amount of weight to each end. Approach the bar keeping your feet shoulder width apart and pointed forward. From a squatting motion, carefully grasp the bar. Lower the hips so that the thighs are level to the floor. Keeping eyes forward, carefully straighten your back. Stand up, raise your hips and shoulders, and carefully lift the bar off the ground. Keeping eyes forward, carefully straighten your back. For complete instructions and video on how to do the deadlift click here.
Barbell Overhead Press
Place a barbell at mid-chest height in a squat rack. Grasp the bar with an overhand, slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. With your elbows below your hands and your wrists straight, unrack the bar and take a small step backwards. The bar should be resting across the fronts of your shoulders. Inhale and, with your legs completely straight, push the bar up and overhead to arms’ length. The rep only counts if you lock the bar out and hold it steady for a second or so. Lower the bar back down and re-rack it. Do not lean back when performing this movement as this places an inordinate amount of stress on your lower back. Any backward lean should be only enough to allow the bar to pass in front of your head without hitting you in the nose or chin.
|1RM Deadlift – Men|
|1RM Deadlift – Women|
|1RM Barbell Overhead Press – Men|
|1RM Barbell Overhead Press – Women|