Are you ready to start a training program? Measure your level of physical fitness with a few simple tests. Then use the results to set fitness goals and track your progress.
You probably have an idea of your physical condition. But knowing the details can help you set realistic fitness goals, monitor your progress, and stay motivated. Once you know your starting point, you can plan where you want to go. Start with the simple assessment that follows.
Gather the necessary items
In general, physical fitness is assessed in four key areas: aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition. For your evaluation, you will need the following:
- A stopwatch or watch that can measure seconds
- A cloth tape measure
- A measuring stick
- High resistance adhesive tape
- A scale
- Someone to help you record your scores and count replays
You will also need a pencil or pen and paper to record your scores as you complete each part of the assessment. You can record your scores in a notebook or journal, or save them in a spreadsheet or other electronic format.
Aerobic physical activity: resting heart rate
Pulse control over the carotid artery
Resting heart rate is a measure of the health and fitness of the heart. For most adults, a healthy heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute.
To check your pulse over the carotid artery, place your index and middle fingers on your neck next to the windpipe.
To do this on the wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over the radial artery, located at the back of the wrist, below the base of the thumb.
When you feel the pulse, look at the clock and count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by 4 to get the heart rate per minute. Suppose you count 20 beats in 15 seconds. Multiply 20 by 4, giving a total of 80 beats per minute.
Aerobic condition: target heart rate range
The target heart rate range is an increase in heart rate, between 50% and 85% of the target heart rate range for your age, significant enough to give your heart and lungs a good workout. Aim for 50% to 70% when doing moderately intense activity and 70% to 85% when doing vigorous activity.
You can use the target heart rate range as a guide to make sure your exercise is intense enough. If you don’t reach your target range, you may have to increase the intensity. If you reach a target range at the lower end of the target range area, you can set targets to progressively increase your target.
If you are already active regularly, you can stop occasionally to check your heart rate during an aerobic workout. If you’re already active regularly, you can do a simple test by checking your heart rate after a quick 10-minute walk.
Aerobic condition: running or jogging test
Another way to assess your aerobic status is to time yourself for a 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) run or jog. The following times are generally considered indicators of good physical condition depending on age and sex. A lower time generally indicates better aerobic condition and a higher time suggests the need for improvement.
Muscle strength and endurance: flexion test
Push-ups can help you measure muscle strength and endurance. If you are starting a fitness program, do modified push-ups on your knees. If you’re fit and can do them, do classic push-ups. Follow these steps for both types:
- Lie on your stomach on the floor with your elbows bent and your palms close to your shoulders.
- Keeping your back straight, push with your arms until your arms are extended.
- Lower your body until your chin hits the ground.
- Do as many push-ups as you can until you need to stop to rest.
The following counts are generally considered indicators of good physical condition based on age and sex. If your pushup count is below the target number, the target can serve as a goal to work on. Counts above the targets indicate better physical condition.
Muscle strength and endurance: abdominal test
The abdominal test measures the strength and endurance of the abdominal muscles. This is how the test is done:
- Lie on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor. A partner holds your feet firmly to the ground. Another option is to place your feet on the wall so that your knees and hips bend at a 90-degree angle. Cross your arms over your chest. This is the down position.
- To move into a standing position, raise your head and shoulders off the ground. Don’t lift your buttocks off the ground.
- Return to the down position.
- Every time you move to the top position it counts as an abdominal.
- Do as many sit-ups as you can in one minute.
In general, the following counts can be considered markers of good physical condition based on age and sex. If the abdominal count is below the target number, the target can serve as a general goal to work on. Counting above targets can generally mean better physical fitness. However, the pushup count may be a more accurate indicator of your fitness.