All the working out in the world is great, but if you’re not improving your health in some way, then what’s the point? Establishing a baseline fitness level for yourself gives you a point of reference to revisit every few weeks. If you’ve made progress, great. If you haven’t progressed, or even took a step back, maybe you need to raise the bar. Here are a few ways to assess your cardiovascular fitness and body strength.
One Mile Run Test
Warm up for about 15 minutes by running fairly easy. After you’re warmed up, run one mile as fast as you can. Don’t go out in a sprint, especially for your first test. In fact, it might not be a bad idea to go out “fast” at the beginning of the mile, then pick up the pace to “very fast.” If you’re new to run tests, knowing how to pace yourself is half the challenge. The only time you’re competing against is your own.
One Mile Walk Test
If running isn’t your thing, your feet should still hit the street. Get out there and walk vigorously for one mile. If you live in a hilly area, or have use of a treadmill that you can set on an incline, make the walk more challenging by changing the grade. Repeat the same route or incline again in a couple weeks to compare.
Indoor Bike Test
Park yourself on a bike (recumbent or upright) and warm up for about 15 minutes. After you’re warm up, set a challenging enough level and go as far as you can in ten minutes. Note your time and retest again in a couple weeks. Remember the level you set your bike to so you can set the same parameters the next time you test.
Rest your forearms on the ground with the palms of your hands facing down, or together in prayer position. Your chin should be just over your hands. With your legs completely straight, rest on your toes drawing your belly button into your spine. How long can you hold it? This is a great core test. If you notice any pain or discomfort in your lower back, it’s time to stop. As you get stronger, this will dissipate. 15 second increments of gradual improvement are really good!
Standing up against a wall, walk your feet out 12 to 16 inches. Lower yourself into a seated position keeping your knees in line with your toes. Keep your back as straight as possible against the wall. Hold this position as long as possible. Try not to let your knees collapse in, or your bottom fall further down than where you started. Like the plank, 15 second increments of improvement are showing great progress.
Yes, it’s a classic, but a good barometer of strength. If you’re just starting with push ups and haven’t built up core strength yet, start by resting on your knees. Keep your abs drawn in and go for it.