Measuring Your Fitness Level
Why Does Knowing Your Fitness Level Even Matter?
Replace “fitness level” with “progress” and there’s your answer. Knowing your fitness level is essential for determining whether you’re progressing or plateauing. Whether you’re a beginner just starting to work out, or a regular gym goer with a new goal, measuring your fitness level establishes a baseline; a marker of where you are and from where you can progress.
Here’s An Example
This person, known as Mike, lives a sedentary lifestyle but really wants to challenge himself by running a half-marathon next year. Testing his fitness level will involve seeing how far he can run without stopping; Mike can run one mile. This establishes his baseline. Now, Mike’s personal trainer can create a regimen that gets Mike from running one mile to 13 miles within a year.
Our next example, Michaela, has been running regularly for years but really wants to beat her best 10km time of 45 minutes. That means her baseline is an average mile time of 7:14. Her personal trainer has suggested cutting that down to seven minutes flat, and has a workout plan to get it done.
Someone with a high baseline like Michaela may only progress incrementally. In contrast, Mike had a low baseline, so his advancement potential was far greater. But both individuals made solid improvements relative to their abilities and are well on track to achieving their individual goals.
Testing Your General Fitness vs. Testing for a Goal
After you’ve established your baseline, you can use benchmark workouts to monitor your progress.
Compound movements work multiple muscle groups simultaneously and are great for testing your general fitness. Using the six fundamental movement patterns — squat, hinge, lunge, push, pull, and carry — a personal trainer can develop a benchmark workout for you to do at predetermined intervals, for instance, once a month. Recording and comparing your results after each attempt will make it obvious whether you’re progressing or not.
Working with a qualified personal trainer ensures that your movements are correct and effective. Levo Co-Founder and Master Trainer Cory McCue advises: “Make sure you have the mobility and stability to do the movement pattern effectively. Without the necessary mobility or stability, you might compensate by sending a negative signal to the brain causing a negative response.” Not working with a personal trainer yet? Check out our blog for advice on how to find the best personal trainer for you.
Testing your fitness and progress towards a specific goal is a bit more straightforward. Remember Mike and Michaela? They were both training towards a goal. Mike wanted to run a half-marathon and Michaela was training towards a consistent seven-minute mile. Their personal trainers may suggest running X distance for time bi-weekly to check in on their progress.
AMRAPs to Measure Endurance and Strength
If you’re not familiar, AMRAP means one thing, two ways: As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible. When performed circuit-style, AMRAP workouts are perfect to increase your cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Each time you do the benchmark, aim to fit in even just one more round than the last time. Here’s an example of an AMRAP endurance workout:
- 10 Min
- 5 Burpees
- 20 Body Weight Squats
- 10 Box Jumps
Alternatively, repeated singular movement AMRAPs are a great tool to gauge your strength. Just forget the time and focus on weight. Once you plateau, add weight and start over. Levo Trainer Eric Wu says: “Making small incremental increases in weight week-to-week or aiming for more reps than the prior week is a great way to ensure you’re moving down the RIR scale and training harder than you did in the previous week.”
Eric has given an example of what this may look like in real-life practice over five weeks. Check it out below.
- Week 1: 100lbs deadlift for 10 reps @ 3-4 RIR
- Week 2: 100lbs deadlift for 12 reps @ 2-3 RIR
- Week 3: 110lbs deadlift for 10 reps @ 1-2 RIR
- Week 4: 120lbs deadlift for 10 reps @ 1-2 RIR
- Week 5: 120lbs deadlift for 12 reps @ 0-1 RIR
Whether it’s reps or rounds, these workouts can be modified to be done with body weights or using equipment but, as always, a qualified trainer knows best. So be sure to ask your personal trainer if AMRAPs are a good addition to your workout plan. Don’t have one yet? Get in touch with the team at Levo Lab.