Evaluate Your Fitness

Evaluate Your Fitness

Debbie Hickey Special For eFitness

Assessing your current level of fitness, including body composition, will help you set goals and keep you inspired. Tracking your body measurements can be a very effective assessment tool for monitoring your weight loss progress and updating your fitness programme. eFitness offers an online measurement log to help members track their progress and stay motivated.

The more assessments you complete, the better you will be able to see your health and fitness improvements. After all, Progress = Motivation = Results!

Record the details of your initial evaluation so you can repeat each assessment under the same conditions, i.e., day of the week, time of day and clothing you wore. Keep in mind there are no failures here - every step forward is a step in the right direction.

Weight: Weigh in no more than once a week or every six weeks if you are not actively following a weight loss plan. When weighing yourself, be sure to be accurate. Make sure that you use the same scale each time and that it’s calibrated properly. The best time to weigh yourself is in the morning after you have used the bathroom. Weigh yourself without any clothing, or with the same clothing each time.

Body Composition: Body composition refers to the percentage of your body that is lean and that which is fat. Whatever is not fat is considered lean (muscle, organs, bones, etc). Your body composition breaks down to a ratio of fat to muscle and is read as a percentage of fat. Less than 32% is considered healthy for women; less than 25% for men. When your body fat rises above these percentages, you put yourself at risk of disease. The desired body fat range for fit women is 21–24%; for men 14–17%. Those who are more athletic can have lower percentages of fat and still be healthy.

Body composition can be calculated with a skinfold calliper by a certified personal trainer (your doctor will also be able to do this). There are also specialised scales that can measure body composition.

Resting heart rate: Resting heart rate is the number of times per minute your heart beats when your body is at rest. Normal resting heart rates can range from 50–100 beats per minute (bpm). The average resting heart rate for adults is 72 bpm. People who are aerobically fit have lower resting heart rates. While we aren't limited to the number of heartbeats we can use in a lifetime, exercise helps your heart work more efficiently to supply the body with oxygen and nutrients.

To determine your true baseline resting heart rate, it's best to record this number before getting out of bed in the morning. Ideally you should take your pulse for a full minute on three different mornings and average them to determine your resting heart rate.

Blood pressure should be taken by a qualified professional. One of the many benefits of a regular exercise programme is a healthy blood pressure reading. Individuals on medication have been shown to reduce their dependence on blood pressure lowering medication after incorporating exercise into their daily routine.

Three Minute Step Test: To perform this test, step up and down on a 12-inch step at a rate of 96 steps per minute for three minutes. At the end of the three minutes, sit down and take your recovery heart rate for a full minute. Using music can help you keep pace. Use the same music every six weeks for a more accurate comparison.

An alternate test is the Fitness Walking Test. This involves walking or jogging (depending on your fitness level) for a mile. Perform this test on a smooth and level surface. A local 1/4 mile track or a treadmill would be ideal but if these are not available measure out a mile from your home and perform the test outside.

Don't work to exhaustion and stop at any time if you feel breathless, dizzy or experience any pain. After a few minutes of slow walking to warm up, start walking your mile as quickly as you comfortably can. At the one mile mark, stop and take your pulse for a minute. Record your recovery pulse. If you did not complete a mile, record your heart rate and the distance that you covered. If you are a more advanced exerciser, consider a more vigorous test like a running test.

Recovery heart rate is an indicator of how quickly your heart recovers after exercise. On average, it's acceptable to be at or below 100 beats per minute within the minute of discontinuing activity. The more you exercise the more efficient your heart works and the more quickly it returns to your resting heart rate.

Circumference measurements: Use a tape measure to assess your body circumferences. It’s best if someone takes the measurements for you. The sites below are the areas where you should expect to see the most improvements. Be sure to keep the measuring tape at the same height all the way around the area you are measuring.

Biceps Keep your arm straight and measure the circumference of your arm at the midpoint of your biceps muscle. Chest Measure at the nipple line. Waist Measure at the smallest width of your torso between the navel and the ribs. Hips Measure at the widest width of your hips when standing with your feet together. Thigh Measure at the widest point of your thigh, right under the glutes. Calf Measure at the largest width of your calf. Iliac Measure around your hips at the top of your pelvic bones. Forearm Measure at widest circumference.

One Rep Max Test: One rep max tests are used to determine the maximum upper and lower body resistance which can be lifted, usually using the bench press and squat respectively. This test must be conducted with strict form and slow movement speed and is more appropriate for intermediate or advanced exercisers.

An alternative, especially for beginners, is the 10 rep max test. Most people can lift 75% of their maximum resistance for 10 reps. To perform the 10 rep max test, determine the heaviest weight you can use to perform 10 good reps. To convert it to a one rep max value, divide the weight you used by .75.

Push-up Test: The purpose of the push-up test is to establish a baseline for upper body strength and endurance. Perform this test using either the bent knee push-up or push-up depending on your fitness level. Lower your body keeping the head, back, hips and legs in a straight line until you form a 90 degree angle at the elbows. Do not let your back arch or cave in. That counts as one repetition. Record how many push-ups you can complete to fatigue with good form without stopping. Please do not perform this test if you have shoulder pain or back injuries.

Sit-up Test: The purpose of the curl-up test is to establish a baseline for abdominal strength and endurance. Record how many curls you can complete with good form without stopping. You should raise your trunk no more than 30 degrees from the floor. When your head touches the floor the test is over. Do not perform this test if you have low back pain or injuries.

Sit and Reach Flexibility Test: Perform the following tests and compare your progress over time.

When you lie face down on the floor, place your hands under your shoulders and push up until your arms are fully extended, which of the following most closely describes your position?

a. The hips remain in contact with the floor
b. The hips rise up from the ground two inches
c. The hips rise up from the ground more than two inches

When you sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you, which of the following most closely describes your position as you reach forward toward your feet?

a. The bending takes place from my hips and lower back
b. The bending causes some restriction in my lower back and more of the bending occurs in the middle of my back
c. The bending occurs in the upper area of my back

When you reach your right arm up by your ear and let it bend at the elbow toward your shoulder blades and reach your left arm behind you with your palm up, which of the following describes the position of your hands on your back?

a. The fingers can touch
b. The fingertips are less than two inches apart
c. The fingertips are more than two inches apart

When you lie on the floor on your back and raise your right leg straight up to form an 85% angle at your hip, which of the following describes the position of your left leg?

a. The left leg is in contact with the floor
b. The left leg is not in contact with the floor

The Trouser Test Find the tightest pair of trousers you have, pull them on and take a front, side and rear photo. While you are in your wardrobe, sort your clothes according to the possibly varying sizes. As you begin to lose weight, get rid of the larger sizes that no longer fit by donating them to a charity, homeless shelter or giving them to a friend. You won’t need them anymore! Now choose something from the "smaller size collection" that you would like to wear when you reach your goals. Give it a place of prominence in your closet to motivate you to keep on the path of transformation.

Photos If you choose to perform only one assessment, take photos of yourself. The before pictures may be a humbling experience, but the after pictures will be well worth it. Put on a swim suit and have someone who is supportive take the following pictures. Photo 1. Stand facing the camera with legs a little more than shoulder width apart and arms out to the sides with palms facing forward. Photo 2. Stand with your back to the camera with feet shoulder width and hands out at your side with palms facing forward. Photo 3. Stand with your right side facing the camera with arms down at your sides. Photo 4. Stand with your left side to the camera with your hands behind your head.

These tests are invaluable to you. Be sure to compare yourself only to yourself. Each assessment will reveal positive changes to your body, mind and spirit.

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Thanks to tescodiets.com who have provided this article.


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