Fitness Testing Methods
Fitness testing is an important element of fitness and exercise promotion. Without testing at various stages in a fitness program, the subject will not know what their starting level of fitness was, and will not know how effective their exercise programs have been.
The following fitness testing methods and techniques can be used to establish a subjects fitness levels at the start of an exercise program, and to monitor progress and effectiveness of a variety of exercises and training tasks.
The VO2 maximum is the amount of oxygen that the body can utilise within a given amount of time. There are 2 main types of tests, the 12 minute cooper test and the progressively more difficult shuttle run test known as the bleep test.
The 12 minute Cooper test is an “all-out” maximal test usually taking place on a running track or around a pre-determined distance such as a rugby or football pitch. It is an easy test to carry out where the subject runs as far as they can inside a period of 12 minutes. Anything around 3000 metres is considered very good for amateur athletes. The benefits of this test is that many can participate at once and it is relatively cheap to perform as a timer is all that is needed. The draw backs of the test is that it will only provide an estimate of the VO2 maximum. For this to be measured accurately it must be measured using a face mask or in a chamber where oxygen intake and expired air can be monitored.
The bleep test is effectively a shuttle run over a measured distance (generally between 10-20m depending on the level of the participants). It is a progressive test which gets progressively harder by reducing the amount of time between bleeps as the levels increase. Subjects that fail to make a shuttle run in the allocated amount of time are usually given one warning and a chance to recover, after this they will be disqualified from the test and it will be over. This is a relatively cheap test to carry out as a recording of the bleeps and a measured distance is all that is required.
Illinois Agility test.
The Illinois agility test measures a subjects ability to turn at speed. It is a good indicator of a subjects aptitude towards sports that require a fast ability to turn such as squash, tennis, football, hockey or rugby. The subjects must get around a predetermined course with at least 90˚ corners and 5-10 turns depending on the requirements in relation to the sport.
1 Repetition Maximum
This test is commonly used in sports that require large amounts of power such as American football and rugby. It is the maximum amount of weight that can be lifted in one repetition whilst maintaining good form. The test used common exercises in the gym, usually ones that work larger muscle groups such as the bench press, squat or deadlift.
Hand Grip Strength
Hand grip strength is perhaps the best indicator of overall strength as hand grip strength is used in practically every type of strength in one way or another. It is measured using a hand grip Dynamometer normally in Kilograms. The subject, with their hands by their side, squeeze as hard as they can on the dynamometer. It is usually measured in a best out of 3.
Vertical Jump Test
The vertical jump test is an excellent indicator of leg power. It is measured by the subjects placing a belt around their waist with string attached to a mat on the floor which the subject will stand on. The subjects then attempts to jump upwards as high as they can. This measurement (cm) will give an indication as to the explosive power of the legs.
Standing Jump Test
Again, like the vertical jump test, the standing jump is a measurement of explosive power. The subject will jump forward as far as they can, from a standing position with their feet side by side. This will then be measured in centimetres.
Sit and reach Test
The sit and reach test can be used as a determinant of flexibility. The test measurements the flexibility of the gluteals and hamstrings. The subject sits on the floor with a measuring device at their feet. They are then asked to stretch as far as they can with the area around the toes counting at zero and any distance reached after that a positive score and if the subjects isn’t able to reach their feet a negative score (cm).