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  • Writer's pictureDamian Duff

How do I know I'm getting fitter?

A common question on many peoples mind when exercising is "How do I know I am getting fitter?" Apart from feeling healthier and maybe loosing a few pounds is there a way to test my fitness levels as I progress through my weeks of fitness training? The simple answer is yes, there are many ways to test your fitness levels. The best place to start before you start any fitness tests is to check your own resting heart rate, you can do this by checking your pulse - start with the palm of your hand facing up and place 2 fingers over your radial artery which is located on your wrist at the base of your thumb. Don't use your thumb as this already has its own pulse and try todo this whilst feeling relaxed. Once you can feel your pulse, count how many beats in 15 seconds then multiply this number by 4. This will give you beats per minute and your current resting heart rate.

Now you have your resting heart rate figure you can check your current fitness levels using the chart below.

As you progress through your training sessions, your resting heart rate figure should become lower as you get fitter. This is due your heart muscle becoming stronger and being able to pump more blood around the body per beat which means it needs less beats to pump the required amount of blood around the body.

Other tests can be used to test our physical fitness in certain areas around the body such as lower and upper body strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness. These tests should be performed when first starting a training program to test your current fitness levels and the maybe every 4-6 weeks into your training program to check for any improvements compared to the previous tests. Now you can try out some of the fitness tests listed below to test your own fitness levels and then start to work on improving your results for future tests. Good luck. Press Up Test To measure upper body strength and endurance. Perform as many full press ups as possible in 60 seconds. Lie prone on floor with hands slightly wider than shoulder width, raise body of the floor by extending your arms and keeping your body straight(shoulders, hips, knees, ankles in a straight line), lower your body to the floor by bending arms/elbows then push back up until your arms are extended to start position. Test begins in down position. How did you do? Excellent = 40+ Good = 30-40 Average = 20-30 Poor = 20 or below Squat Test To measure lower body muscular strength and endurance Perform as many squats as possible until you can do no more. Start by standing with your feet around shoulder width, squat down by pushing and bending your hips back and allowing knees to bend forward(imagine your sitting down in a chair). Keep your back straight, knees same direction as feet (try to keep knees behind toes). Lower down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, push back up through your heels whilst extending knees and hips until legs are straight and back in the start position. How did you do? Excellent = 30+ Good = 20-30 Average = 10-20 Poor = <10 Plank Test To measure your core strength and stability (muscles that make up your torso) From a press up position, drop down to your elbows and forearms making sure your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line. Hold this position as long as possible. How did you do? Excellent = 3 mins+ Good = 2 mins+ Average = 1 min+ Poor = less than 1 min 1 mile Run (1.6 km) To test your Cardiovascular fitness or Stamina (How efficiently your heart and lungs use oxygen). Run 1 mile as quick as possible. How did you do? Excellent = 4-6 mins Good = 6-8 mins Average = 8-10 mins Poor = 10 mins+

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