Fitness tests can be used to measure certain abilities of the human body. Every fitness test has a specific outcome or value that it aims to measure. This outcome then becomes an athletes baseline value. Future tests and results can then be compared with this baseline and it can be determined if progress has been made.
Fitness tests do not only provide a baseline or starting point for an individual, but they can also be used to determine which areas need to be focused and improved upon. These areas can then become the primary focus of an athletes training program for that season. Fitness testing and its results are primarily used to help coaches and trainers in designing the most appropriate athletic training program.
Benefits of fitness testing:
- Strengths and weakness can be identified
- Strengths and weaknesses can be identified by comparing the athletes results with those of other athletes in the same training group, other athletes in the same sport or in a similar population group.
- Once areas of weakness have been established, training programs can be developed and adapted to focus on these areas and improve them.
- Progress can be monitored
- Preseason testing allows athletes to establish where their fitness levels are.
- Future fitness test results can also be compared to the preseason baseline results and any changes or improvements can be noted.
- These tests provide incentives
- For athletes one of their goals could be to improve their fitness test results. Therefore, during training, they will work harder to get fitter and achieve this goal.
- Meeting certain fitness levels can be one of the criteria required to make a certain level or team and so this can provide an athlete with motivation to keep working harder if they see they are nearing their goal.
Common fitness tests:
- Beep / Bleep Shuttle Run Test.
- 20 minute test
- Maximal running aerobic fitness test
- Sit and Reach Test.
- Measure of flexibility
- Primarily lower back and hamstring flexibility
- Handgrip Strength Test.
- Maximum isometric strength of the hand and forearm muscles
- The general rule is that people with strong hands tend to be strong elsewhere and so it can be used as a general test of strength
- Skinfold Body Fat Test.
- This is a common method for determining body fat
- For certain athletes and sports people keeping body fat at certain level is advantageous
- Vertical Height Jump Test.
- Used to determine the maximum leg muscle power an athlete can produce.
- The higher they can jump the more power they have are considered to have in their body.
- Illinois Agility Test.
- Used to test an athlete’s ability to slow down, change direction and speed up again.
These tests do not require large amounts of equipment or laboratories and can be done on athletes of almost any level.
There are also more complicated fitness tests that require qualified professionals and specialized testing. These tests are usually only needed by professional athletes who require a much deeper insight into their bodies and how they are functioning.
A VO2Max test, also known as a maximal oxygen uptake test, is a test usually performed in a high performance center, laboratory, or specialized exercise facility. It is a measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during intense exercise. It is a very common measure and fitness test done to determine an athlete’s aerobic endurance. It is one of several tests that can be done when determining an athlete’s cardiovascular fitness levels and performance capacity.
VO2Max is measure in milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight, ml/kg/min. The test is based on the premise that the more oxygen an athlete consumes during high intensity exercise, the more the body will generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) or in simple terms, energy within its cells.
How is a VO2Max test performed:
A VO2Max test is a graded exercise test meaning that the intensity of the test is gradually increased over specific periods of time. The test is either performed on a stationary bicycle or a treadmill. The athlete will have to wear a face mask that is connected to a machine that can analyse their respiratory rate, the volume and concentration of both oxygen and carbon dioxide inhaled and exhaled. A heart rate belt will also be worn around the chest to measure the athletes heart rate throughout the test.
The test usually takes between 10-20 minutes to complete the test.
VO2Max is reached when your oxygen consumption reaches a steady state despite an increase in the workload.
Factors that influence VO2Max:
- VO2Max usually peaks in an individual around age 20 and then slowly declines by roughly 30% by age 65.
- It has been shown that elite females’ athletes typically have a VO2Max value then their male counter parts. However, when the value is adjusted based on their body size, blood volume and hemoglobin content then men’s VO2Max values generally are about 20% higher then women’s.
- This is a simple factor as there is simply less oxygen to consume at a higher altitude. Therefore, an athlete generally experiences a 5% decrease in VO2Max values for every 5000 feet gained.
As with everything else, technology has also started to influence the fitness testing industry. More and more people are focusing on their health and getting into cycling, running, triathlons, CrossFit and so much more. In all these disciplines tracking your progress and training is becoming more popular and more important then ever. Companies such as Garmin and other fitness tracking companies have seen the need for this and have created products to help individuals of all levels track their heart rates, their speed, their distance and even their VO2Max.
The predicted value of an individual’s VO2Max by the Garmin is accurate to within 5%. This is a far cheaper, more accessible method of fitness tracking that people are starting to use instead of paying the high price attached to a VO2Max test performed in a fitness lab.
So, whether you are a weekend warrior, a professional athlete or a casual gym goer, why not start testing your fitness in various ways. Keep record of your results and then rest the same test in few weeks’ time and note the improvements.
For more information on testing, how to do it, and how to improve your results do not hesitate to contact us!