We all want to know how we actually measure up, and that my dear friends is a good thing. Exercises do a lot better when they are test and retesting theirselves. Being a personal trainer, I have learned feedback motivate people when it is positive, and helps to redirect their efforts when it is not. It is not just about winning your age group in the local fun race either, having an honest benchmark of your own fitness level gives you a concrete number to beat. It is essential for specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound goals. (S.M.A.R.T.)
That is why it is a very good idea to regularly assess your cardio, strength, power, balance and flexibility: the four pillars of physical fitness. Go ahead and put yourself to the test come-on, then use the strategies that I have laid out for you to improve your score on any or all front, (you can do this).
ARE YOU AEROBICALLY FIT
How will you find out, walk a mile.
Not everyone is a runner and you don’t have to be in order to be fit, but if you can walk a mile you can estimate your VO2 max, this is the measure of how efficiently your body uses oxygen. This is important because studies have suggested that, whatever your weight, higher levels aerobic fitness may be protective against health conditions like diabetes and yes, even early death from all causes.
>Lets try it, head to the track or use your car’s odometer to measure out a one-mile course. Walk the distance as fast as possible, timing yourself with a stopwatch. As soon as you are finish, check your pulse. If you have a heart-rate-monitor watch, you are set. If you do not, DIY by feeling for it on your wrist. Count the beats for 10 seconds and then multiply by six to get your beats per minute.
>Score it, search on the internet for the Rockport Walking Test calculator and plug in your gender, weight, and age, time for the mile walk and your heart rate at the end. Or you can calculate it yourself with this formula: 132.853-(0.0769 × your weight in pounds) – (0.3877 × your age) + (6.315 × 1 if you’re Male or 0 if you’re female) – (3.2649 × time in minutes) – (0.1565 × your heart rate).
A score of around 40 is good for men that are in their 30s and 40s. And if you’re 48 or higher, my God you’re a stud. For women that are in their 30s, 37 or above is very good. Female and over 40? Aim for 33 or higher. A number of 40 or above is exceptional.
>Get faster, To improve your score, add intervals short bursts of higher- intensity effort to your cardio. Workouts. Since they push your lungs and heart to work harder than they’re used to doing, they deliver faster results than if you were to continue at your regular pace. We used to believe that intervals were only for the super fit, because they’re very difficult, however, they can benefit everyone.
You can reap the benefits of intervals with the cardio of your choice, biking, running, and etc. After warming up at a conversation pace, pick it up to a new level, where it is hard to get a full sentence out for a few minutes. Slow down to recover for three or four minutes and then repeat, now aim for 20 to 30 minutes total. As you become fitter, incorporate intervals in a variety of speeds and duration to challenge all of your muscle fibers. What that means is, short and fast effects of just 20 to 30 seconds all-out as well as longer intervals of 8 to 10 minutes at a pace that you can just maintain for that amount of time, followed by a period of recovery.
OKAY TELL ME ARE YOU STRONG?
> Want to find out: See how many push-ups and squats you can do
While the truest measure of strength is the greatest amount of weight that you can lift with any given muscle group, those tests can be grueling and a little risky. Instead, try testing your muscles endurance on two key exercises, push-ups and squats
- The push up test, get into a plank position with your elbows bent and your hands planted below your shoulders. You men should extend your legs, supporting yourself on your hands and toes, your body in a straight line from head to the heels. Women should do a modified push up on hands and knees. Always keeping your abs tight, straighten your elbows to press-up. Repeat and count how many that you can do until you can’t go any longer.
- Squat test: Stand with your feet hips width apart, your toes pointing forward. Always keeping the weight on your heels, bend your knees and sit back. Aim to lower until your thighs are parallel with the ground, keeping knees behind your toes. Push into heels to stand. Count how many reps you can do until you need to rest.
Score it. For the push-ups, 13 to 19 is a solid count for women that are in their 30s. For men that are in the 30s, 17 to 21 is a good score. For our squat test, about 30 is a good number for women, between 36 and 45, for men that are 36 to 45, aim for a count in the upper 30s. If you’re up to a decade older than that, subtract five from your goal number, if you’re younger, add five.
>GET STRONGER: The recipe for getting stronger is to create what we call an overload. By regularly challenging your muscles to do a little more than they’re used to. You can do this by using weights, resistance bands or body weight exercises, like squats and push-ups, two to three times a week. If you do it only once a week, you just may find that you feel sore after every session. Shoot for 8 to 12 reps, for each exercise.
While practicing push-ups and squats, to make sure you hit all your major muscle groups, you should include moves that will involve pushing, pulling, squatting and twisting. Also, exercises that use just one leg or arm at a time tend to be very effective.
TELL ME, TELL ME, ARE YOU FLEXIBLE?
>How to find out: Since your hips and hamstrings link your upper and lower body, they are a good gauge of general flexibility. The tests here are preferable to the classic sit-and-reach, which can sometimes aggravate back pain.
>Try it. Lie face up on a bench or an exercise table with your legs hanging off the end. Bend your right leg and pull your knee toward your chest. Next, lie fully on the table or bench both of your legs extended; lift your right leg toward the ceiling without bending your knee. Do both tests on each side.
>Get more flexible. Lie face up in a doorway, left your knee bent and your right hip near the right side of the door frame. Extend your right leg to the ceiling, back of your leg against the edge of the door frame. Flex foot, pressing your heel toward the ceiling. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat this on your left leg. Do this three to four times a day.
HOW IS THAT BALANCE OF YOURS?
>How to find out: Lets us do the Romberg test. Balance may be the easiest component of fitness to ignore while we are young. It’s the unsung hero that keeps you from totally wiping out when you step on a patch of ice and will help you stay upright on a moving train. A will-tuned connection between your body’s sense of space and your muscles firing is essential to every move that you make, from standing on your tiptoes to reach the top shelf, and from walking to running.
If you have a sedentary job or life, you may not even realize that you have a balance issue until it’s too late or a fall happens. And it is not just about preventing falling. The research shows that not only is poor balance, a risk factor for musculoskeletal injuries like ankle sprains, but also, training your balance could actually make some positive changes in your brain to improve memory and spatial reasoning.
>Try it. Stand near a wall with your feet together, your arches touching, and cross your arms in front of your chest. Set a timer and close your eyes. The goal is: stand this way without you wavering or falling for one minute. If you can do this, you have a good baseline for balance. (Overachiever?) Try the sharpened Romberg test: stand with your feet in line heel to toe, with eyes closed.
>Score it. If you can do the sharpened Romberg test for 60 seconds, it’s a very good sign.
>Get better balance. Practice the Romberg test. Go to the level that feels safe for you, even if that’s sitting on the edge of your chair with your feet together; aim for four 30- seconds holds. Progress to standing with a narrow stance. If you ace this test, incorporate balance into your strength training with one-legged exercises like lunges or by turning two-legged exercises (like a bridge) into one legged ones (extend one leg).
Well alrighty my friends, there you have it, don’t just put this article away and forget about all you have learned. You know exactly what I mean, we are all guilty of it one time or another. While it is fresh on your mind, take action people, just kidding, hahaha however, don’t forget about this, make the time and take the action that is needed.
May good health and prosperity be always with you.
Humbly yours Paul Earl