It helps to assess your fitness level, so you know your progress is moving in the right direction. You don’t need to go to a fancy lab to get testing done. You can keep track of some basic things to have an objective measurement of your fitness level.
Here’s four easy ways to keep track of yourself.
Use Your Target Heart Rate
Your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is the fastest rate at which your heart will beat in one minute. A simple formula used for years to determine your MHR is 220 minus your age. The rate at which you’re supposed to exercise for benefit and safety is your Target Heart Rate (THR). The THR zone is 50% to 85%. The lower end is for people that don’t exercise much. The higher end is for people that exercise a lot.
Pick a THR level to exercise at. Let’s use 150 beats per minute. What level of exercise do you have to use to reach 150 beats per minute? If you’re on an exercise bike and you hit 150 beats a minute at level 3 then that’s your current fitness level on the bike. If you’re on a treadmill and you hit 150 beats per minute at 3.5 miles per hour, then that’s your current fitness level on the treadmill.
If you test yourself again in a month and you’re hitting 150 beats per minute on the bike at level 4 then you’re getting more fit. If you hit 150 beats per minute on the treadmill at 3.7 miles per hour, then you’re getting more fit.
How long can you hold a plank with good form before your form fails? Planks are a good exercise for determining overall core strength.
First, you must use good technique. Use a modified push-up position with your forearms resting on the floor and your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Your elbows are directly beneath your shoulders. Your weight is supported on your elbows and toes. Your hips are in line with your body. Your rump isn’t higher or lower.
How long can you hold this? Use a watch to time yourself. You’ll probably start shaking somewhere. If your hips rise or sag or you drop to one knee your time is up.
Track how long you can hold a plank with good form. If your time gets longer you’re getting stronger.
How many pushups can you do in a row?
Everyone knows how to do pushups. You may want to use a modified pushup and go on your knees instead of your toes. That’s ok. Whatever works for you.
See how many you can do and set a baseline. If you can do 10 pushups, then that’s your baseline. Test yourself again in a month. If you can do 11 pushups in a row, then you’re progressing.
Take some pictures of yourself. You can be in a swimsuit, shorts or even naked if you prefer. You may be comfortable having someone take pictures of you. You can snap a selfie in the mirror. Whatever makes you comfortable.
Review the pictures. How do you look? Try to be objective.
Take pictures again a few months later and compare with previous pictures. What do you see? If you are getting stronger and healthier, your pictures should show areas of improvement. Are you looking leaner? Is your waist narrower? Are you seeing definition you didn’t see before?
Test Yourself Regularly
Use these simple fitness tests on a regular basis. Try every 3 months and see how your results are. Maybe you want to test yourself every 4 or 6 months. It depends on how much effort you’re putting into your overall health and fitness. If you are working hard to get results you should test yourself more often. If you’re just maintaining, then test yourself every six months.