How fit do you think you are

How fit do you think you are

Research shows that just by measuring your fitness activity people tend to be more active by an average of 26%. And you don’t need expensive equipment or trained professionals – you don’t even need to go to the gym to get the numbers and work out what your level of fitness is.

Being able to measure your level of fitness is an essential part of working towards any exercise or fitness goals whether it’s weight loss, muscle building, improving fitness for a particular sport, improving general fitness or training for an event. Being able to numerically see and record your level of fitness enables you to understand how you’re doing, how far you’ve come, what’s working and what isn’t, and the effect outside influences might have on your fitness. Measuring fitness helps you become accountable to others as you have something tangible to share and better on, and seeing results is also a highly motivational tool.

The definition of fitness is “the condition of being physically fit and healthy” and there are numerous ways of measuring this depending on your interpretation and required context. For example, you can measure strength, stamina, flexibility, agility, speed or even the frequency of disease encountered. One of the most telling measurables is that of cardiovascular efficiency. The efficiency of a person’s circulatory system is determined by measuring the heart rate, i.e. how well oxygen is delivered to the muscles. The real test for fitness though, is where you do a certain amount of exercise, and then sit down and rest, measuring your pulse each minute, and the faster your pulse returns to normal, the fitter you are.

Here are four simple tests you can do at home to measure cardiovascular efficiency, strength and stamina; these four will give you a good indication of your overall fitness. Firstly, the press-up test which measures muscular strength and stamina. Armed with only a stopwatch and knowledge on the right way to do press-ups, you simply need to measure the number of press-ups you can do in one minute. You need to make sure you’re doing the press-ups properly and there are many resources online to help guide you if you’re not sure. Women can do the modified press-ups on knees. You can classify your level of fitness from these age-adjusted standards published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):

Press-up test - ratings for men (full press-ups):

 

 

 20-29

 30-39

 40-49

 50-59

 60+

 Excellent

 > 54

 > 44

> 39

> 34

 > 29

 Good

 45-54

 35-44

 30-39

 25-34

 20-29

 Average

 35-44

 24-34

 20-29

 15-24

 10-19

 Poor

 20-34

 15-24

 12-19

 8-14

 5-9

 Very Poor

 < 20

 < 15

 < 12

 < 8

 < 5


Press-up test - ratings for women (modified press-ups):

 

20-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

60+

Excellent

>48

>39

>34

>29

>19

Good

34-48

25-39

20-34

15-29

5-19

Average

17-33

12-24

8-19

6-14

3-4

Poor

6-16

4-11

3-7

2-5

1-2

Very Poor

< 6

< 4

< 3

< 2

< 1

Next there is the crunch test. This measures abdominal strength and stamina. Crunches are considered better than traditional sit-ups for abdominal work as they don’t place strain on the lower back and they target abdominal muscles more directly. Once again, you simply need to measure the number of crunches you can perform in one minute. The table below is the age-adjusted standards for this fitness test from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):

Crunch test - ratings for men:

Rating

< 35 years

35-44 years

> 45 years

Excellent

60

50

40

Good

45

40

25

Marginal

30

25

15

Needs Work

15

10

5


Crunch test - ratings for women:

Rating

< 35 years

35-44 years

> 45 years

Excellent

50

40

30

Good

40

25

15

Marginal

25

15

10

Needs Work

10

6

4

Thirdly, there is the three minute step test, measuring aerobic fitness. For this, you need to step on and off a 12inch step for three minutes. You should step up with one foot, then the other, down with the first and so on. It also needs to be done to a steady number of beats per minute using a metronome (which can be found online if need be). As soon as the three minutes is up, you need to measure your pulse and this is what is evaluated to determine fitness. The following table is the age-adjusted standards for this test published by the YMCA:

Three minute step test - ratings for men:

 

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

65+

Excellent

50-76

51-76

49-76

56-82

60-77

59-81

Good

79-84

79-85

80-88

87-93

86-94

87-92

Above Average

88-93

88-94

92-88

95-101

97-100

94-102

Average

95-100

96-102

100-105

103-111

103-109

104-110

Below Average

102-107

104-110

108-113

113-119

111-117

114-118

Poor

111-119

114-121

116-124

121-126

119-128

121-126

Very Poor

124-157

126-161

130-163

131-159

131-154

130-151

Three minute step test - ratings for women:

 

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

65+

Excellent

52-81

58-80

51-84

63-91

60-92

70-92

Good

85-93

85-92

89-96

95-101

97-103

96-101

Above Average

96-102

95-101

100-104

104-110

106-111

104-111

Average

104-110

104-110

107-112

113-118

113-118

116-121

Below Average

113-120

113-119

115-120

120-124

119-127

123-126

Poor

122-131

122-129

124-132

126-132

129-135

128-133

Very Poor

135-169

134-171

137-169

137-171

141-174

135-155

And finally, there is the one mile walk test, which also measures aerobic fitness. You simply are required to walk a distance of one mile, on a flat surface and not a treadmill, and record the time it takes. In the tables below you will find the age-adjusted standards for men and women, based on information from the Cooper Institute, American Council on Exercise and other sources.

One mile walk test - ratings for men:

 

Age

20-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

60-69

70+

Excellent

<11:54

<12:24

<12:54

<13:24

<14:06

<15:06

Good

11:54-13:00

12:24-13:30

12:54-14:00

13:24-14:24

14:06-15:12

15:06-15:48

Average

13:01-13:42

13:31-14:12

14:01-14:42

14:25-15:12

15:13-16:18

15:49-18:48

Fair

13:43-14:30

14:13-15:00

14:43-15:30

15:13-16:30

16:19-17:18

18:49-20:18

Poor

>14:30

>15:00

>15:30

>16:30

>17:18

>20:18

 


One mile walk test - ratings for women:

Age

20-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

60-69

70+

Excellent

<13:12

<13:42

<14:12

<14:42

<15:06

<18:18

Good

13:12-14:06

13:42-14:36

14:12-15:06

14:42-15:36

15:06-16:18

18:18-20:00

Average

14:07-15:06

14:37-15:36

15:07-16:06

15:37-17:00

16:19-17:30

20:01-21:48

Fair

15:07-16:30

15:37-17:00

16:07-17:30

17:01-18:06

17:31-19:12

21:49-24:06

Poor

>16:30

>17:00

>17:30

>18:06

>19:12

>24:06

 

All of these tests are simple to set up, can be done almost anywhere, require minimal equipment, and can be administered by the person doing the tests rather than needing additional help. They’re a great way of determining your fitness, and are a good way of setting your goals. Everybody can benefit from having something to work towards; from the novice to the fittest athletes; so where do you fit in?

Comments

Vijay S.
23 April 2013

Vijay S.

I always find that recovery time is a good indicator. If I am a bit out of shape I can usually still hit my lap times, but it takes a lot more out of me and takes me longer to recover. So 44 push ups might be fine at the time, but then not being able to pull a shirt on for three days indicates you might not be that fit after all!

Clifford H.
16 April 2013

Clifford H.

I scored average in the press-up test and good in the crunch test as well as the step-test; which i am quite happy with consdidering I do the bare minimum in fitness training. I scored excellent in the one-mile walk test completing it in 11mins 23 secs; would probably do it faster if I was walkingto a pub :P

Neil H.
16 April 2013

Neil H.

Interesting read, must be a lot of other variables that influence this sort of stuff though. Plus it is probably not healthy to generalise too much and set people unrealistic targets - that is when the advice of a professional really pays off.

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