What a Fitness Test Can Tell You About Your Health

A fitness test helps determine your health status and track workout success

What Is a Fitness Test?

Fitness tests, often referred to as fitness evaluations or fitness assessments, includes a series of measurements that help determine the health status and physical fitness of an individual.

There are an endless number of possible tests and measurements that trainers and coaches may use to determine an individual's baseline fitness level. Even the military has its own standards: Army Physical Fitness and Combat Readiness Tests.

These tests are often the starting point for designing an appropriate exercise program. The specific tests used in an assessment depend on the health and fitness goals of the individual, the trainer's experience and the type of workout routines being performed. A combination of some or all of the following may be used.

Why Have a Fitness Test?

  1. To determine current health conditions, risks or limitations
  2. To learn about past injuries or surgeries
  3. To assess current fitness level
  4. To identify fitness goals, interests and motivation for exercising
  5. To identify appropriate training options
  6. To establish methods to track progress and evaluate program success
  7. To create a one-on-one relationship and establish appropriate expectations for both the athlete and the trainer

Health History & Medical Screening

Fitness Screenings
Fitness Screenings.

 Before beginning a new exercise program, it's a good idea to review your medical history and, if necessary, get your doctor's OK to exercise (or at least understand your exercise limitations). Most trainers, coaches and sports specialists will use one or more of the following screening tools to determine the safety of exercise for their participants.

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Body Composition Testing

Skinfold measurement
Body composition testing.

Body composition describes the different components (muscles, bone, fat) that make up a person's total body weight. Here are the most common methods of estimating body composition and body fat levels.

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Cardiovascular Endurance Testing

testing endurance
fitness tests for endurance.

 Cardiovascular endurance testing measures how efficiently the heart and lungs work together to supply oxygen and energy to the body during physical activity. Here are some of the most common methods of determining endurance.

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Muscular Strength Testing

Push Up Test
Basic Push Up Test. (c) Getty Images / Erik-Isakson

Muscle strength testing measures the maximal amount of force a muscle group can exert at one time, and muscular endurance testing measures the length of time a muscle group can contract before it fatigues. These tests can help compare similar groups of people (gender, age, health status) and provide some norms for determining recommended levels of fitness. The best use of these tests, however, is in their ability to compare a person's fitness progress over time and to determine any areas of specific muscle weakness or imbalance.

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Flexibility Testing

Shoulder Flexibility Test
Shoulder Flexibility Test. Alistair Berg / Getty Images

Measuring the flexibility or range of motion in certain joints of the body is helpful in assessing muscle weakness, injury and imbalances. There are a variety of ways to measure flexibility, but these are the most common tests:

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Speed and Agility Testing

Agility Testing
Agility Testing. Drew Kelly/Getty Images

The Shuttle Rung helps athletes determine their baseline agility or quickness for stops and starts.

After you have a baseline measurement, you can begin training in a more specific manner. Get more ideas to create and build better fitness for your sports goals with these  Training Plans, Workouts & Drills

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