4 Simple Fitness Tests You Can Do at Home

You can check your fitness level at home with these simple tests

Fitness tests are a great way to check your fitness level at the beginning of a new workout routine. They can help you track your progress and find where changes to your workout routine should be made to continue advancing.

You can go to a sports performance lab to learn your VO2 Max (the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise), your LT (lactate threshold) and exercise metabolism, but that can be elaborate and expensive. If you're not an elite athlete, or just want to track some basic measurements, here are a few simple fitness tests you can do on your own at home. Just be sure you've talked with your doctor before doing any exercise you aren't accustomed to make sure it's safe for you.

BMI (Body Mass Index) Measurement

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BMI or Body Mass Index is a formula that estimates a person's ideal body weight based upon weight and height measurements. Even though the BMI calculation is an indirect measurement of body composition, it has been found to be a fairly reliable indicator of both body composition and ideal weight recommendations for most people.

Unlike direct body composition measurements, BMI can't specifically tell you how much of your weight is muscle and how much is fat—a body builder, for example, can show up as having a high BMI because of the added weight of muscle, so the BMI measurement isn't a reliable indicator in these cases—but it's a simple way to track progress during a weight loss program for the average person.

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Core Strength and Stability Test

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A new way to test not only upper body strength, but core strength and stability, is this test created by sports coach Brian Mackenzie. This is sometimes referred to as the plank fitness test because of the plank position utilized.

I like the simplicity of this test, and how it engages more muscles than nearly any isolated abdominal exercise. Many people who can do a hundred crunches are surprised when they can't fully complete this test. Try it and see for yourself.

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Push Up Test

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The push-up test has been around for a very long time because it is simple and effective, both as an upper body exercise and as a way to measure upper body strength and fitness. You can check your own upper body strength and monitor your progress by performing this test every few months.

Test your upper body fitness with the push-up test.

After you complete the test, you can compare your results to the norms and recommendations for your age and gender and track your own progress by performing the test every two to three months.

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12 Minute Run Test

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This simple run test was developed by Dr. Ken Cooper in 1968 for the military to measure aerobic fitness and provide an estimate of VO2 max. The run test is still used today and is a simple way to assess aerobic fitness.

Clearly, this test is for runners, and should be done after a thorough warm up. It's also best performed on a track so you can accurately measure distance. Simply plug the distance you ran in 12 minutes into one of these formulas to get an estimate of your VO2Max.

  • In Miles: VO2max = (35.97 x miles) - 11.29.
  • In Kilometers: VO2max = (22.351 x kilometers) - 11.288

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