So currently I test myself every 4 weeks (after a taper week) to see how my fitness is doing. Here are the metrics I use:
3 mile time
plank hold time
One thing I was trying to add is flexibility, but I don’t really know how to test that besides it being anecdotal “Yeah I’m closer to my toes… I think”.
Any input you guys could add would be much appreciated. I guess the question is what makes well rounded fitness?
For flexibility you can always try the good old sit-and-reach.
If you went to public school in the States, you may have done this test back in elementary school (I can hardly remember that far back, but this I recall). It’s part of some federally standardized measurement of kids’ fitness.
Here’s details (but don’t think you need a “sit and reach box;” my school just used a ruler taped to the floor): http://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/sit-and-reach.htm
I agree with Mary about the measuring tape. Its low-tech but works. As for all-around fitness, that is such a broad question because it depends on where you are now and where you want to be in weeks, months, years. For me, I was always partial to weight lifting but Crossfit showed me the importance of functional fitness. Sadly, my local crossfit box is too competitive for my taste and a bit out of the way so I got into crossfit bodyweight and kettlebell exercises. I test myself weekly through a few factors: #of reps, flexibility (TRX and yoga work very well for this), physical and mental feeling before and after the workout, amount of weight I can lift (with my KB) and endurance (could I get through the RX’d workout? did I do it in the time rx’d?)
Hope this helps. It takes a lot of change-up and not just doing the same thing all the time.
A couple quick ways of quantifying (functional) flexibility and strength: Wall squat and overhead squat.
Stand facing a wall about a foot away with knees/feet shoulder width apart and arms out to the sides. See if you can go into full squat. If so try closer and closer until your nose/chest/head or whatever are preventing you from reaching full squat. Measure the distance from your toes to the wall.
Hold a broomstick above your head with arms locked out and do a full squat keeping elbows straight. If your arms pitch forward and you can’t keep the bar above your head, widen the grip. Measure the distance between your hands, shooting to get them just over shoulder width apart.
I’m not sure if this belongs here or somewhere in medical tests. I suffered a lower back injury a few weeks ago doing something cliche like shoveling snow. Recovery was good initially and then I reinjured it. Again recovery was proceeding apace and then I re-injured it yet again (what can I say, I’m young & stupid). This time recovery has been frustratingly slow. Concerned that “recovery” isn’t actually occurring, I started recording some fitness measures. I walked/hobbled a certain distance (the distance from my office to the building where most of my meetings occur). I walked up the steps from my office to ground level. (The elevator doesn’t work anyway.)
I’m pleased with my selection of fitness measures for a couple reasons. Due to an experiment ongoing right now, I have to visit the lab daily (even weekends), turn on a couple things and wait 10 minutes. That’s a perfect time to do my fitness test so it’s convenient and easy to remember.
Second, these two tests feel very reliable. Walking up steps is just about the most difficult feat I can accomplish right now. There’s no faking it, no way to go slower than my maximum, my speed up those stairs is entirely dictated by my back and not my mood. The walk down the street is a little less predictable and I could conceivably walk a bit slower than my maximum but it is honestly hard to imagine. My shuffle is maddeningly slow, so again my mood is probably not going to affect my pace.
Day 1 - 2:00 pm - stairs, 17 sec - walk, 7 1/2 min
Day 2 - 10:30 am - stairs, 18 sec - walk, 8 1/2 min
Day 3 - 11:30 am - stairs, 11 sec - walk (icy), 7 min
Today is Day 3 and it was fantastic to have data that support what I suspected–that I was feeling better. Similarly yesterday I thought I was feeling “about the same or maybe a little worse” than the day before and sure enough, that’s what the data show.
I figure a few days’ worth of data will settle my mind as to whether I’ve done something bad to my back or if it’ll recover.
Assuming I do recover one way or another, of course the next step will be to measure and improve core strength so that this never. ever. ever. ever. happens again! (Raise your hand if you’ve made that oath before.)
Here’s a flexibility test devised by a group of Brazilian doctors, whose results correlate very well withe life expectancy in elderly people. If you’re younger, you can give yourself grades for the fluency of the exercise and possibly speed, by referencing their video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCQ2WA2T2oA
What to do: from a standing position, sit down on a yoga mat without using your hands, knees, or side of legs. Then from a sitting position, stand up again without using your hands, knees or side of legs. The video is excellent.
Dan, this is awesome, thanks a lot! I wonder if some fitness tests could now be automated, with the help of Kinect-like technology. The instructions could be read along with the video on the screen, and the video camera/sensors would capture your movements and provide a feedback, including your flexibility, strength scores, etc.
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If we talk about fitness metrics, there are many options available now a days. But to me physical workout is the best thing you could do to keep your body fit. I perform martial arts like kick boxing and karate, and give a little attention to the food and nutrients i am taking. All this have given me the best results i had ever expected for my body. I got trained from sir John Wilson Delco BJJ who is best at his job and i really got benefited.
Although many PTIs like to use sit and reach as a measure of flexibility, IMO that only looks at one particular muscle set in the body. Range of motion for all joints is the way to go with regard to static stretching.
Things get a lot more complicated when one looks at capacity to handle load and generate tension at the extremes of the range of motion for a joint.
One question I would ask before looking at this stuff, is what utility do you hope to gain from being more flexible? One’s goals should determine what performance indicators to monitor, and what to quantify.