Using Fitness Assessments to Set Health Goals

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Everybody wants to get healthier, so let's learn how to use fitness assessments to set your health goals. We'll look at an actual list of popular tests and techniques and we'll discuss how to interpret the tests so you can reach your health goals.

Fitness Assessments

Has New Year's Day ever rolled around and you made a resolution that this was the year you were going to be fit and healthy? However, formulating a workout plan was frustrating and by Valentine's Day you were sitting on the couch while watching television and diving into that box of chocolates.

Do not worry. In this lesson we will review several fitness assessments and how to use that newfound knowledge to work toward achieving your elusive but attainable fitness and health goals.

Most fitness assessments test the following:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Blood Pressure
  • Flexibility
  • Body Composition
  • Endurance
    • Cardiovascular Endurance
    • Muscular Endurance

Specific Fitness Tests

There are literally hundreds of fitness tests available. However, there are a few tried and true popular standards that seem to hold up over time:

Vertical Leap

Who was not wowed by the leaping abilities of the women and men on the outdoor volleyball court at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio? And they were leaping out of sand! A good vertical leap is helpful in other popular sports such as basketball as well. First you reach up and touch a point on a wall. After marking that point you leap up and touch as high as you can. Then simply measure the distance between the two points. A leap measuring over two feet is good and over three feet is outstanding. The test is designed to measure leg muscle power. This muscle power differs from leg muscle strength in that it involves quicker bursts of strength over a shorter period of time. By comparing results of the test with a previous test the athlete may determine if his leg strength is improving.

Beach Volleyball

Illinois Agility Test

Were you amazed by those soccer players in the Summer Olympics weaving through defenders while running with the ball? The Illinois Agility Test helps to test similar abilities. The test features eight orange cones placed among a course measuring five meters by ten meters. A second person times with a stopwatch as you weave in an out of the cones in a predetermined pattern. A time of around 15-17 seconds is good. Ultimately this is a test of your physical agility, which is defined as the ability to be both graceful and quick. A diagram for setting up the test correctly can easily be found on the internet.

Sprint Test

Was your heart beating fast watching Usain Bolt run for gold for a third time at the 2016 Olympics? This test measures not only running speed and endurance but also acceleration. You are timed by a second person with a stopwatch as you run various distances of 10-50 yards. Longer distances can be timed as well although 100 yards is usually the limit for the test. You may have heard about NFL wide receivers running the 40-yard dash in a blistering 4.2 seconds, but the truth is the average person cannot break five seconds. About 5.5 seconds is a standard baseline score.

Push-up and Sit-up Tests

These two tests are old favorites and can be done in the comfort of your own home. There is a chart which shows an average score for people of different age groups. There are also different ratings varying from very poor to excellent. These exams test muscular endurance, which is the ability to do repeated contractions over a length of time.

Fun Push-ups

Sit and Reach Test

This will test your flexibility, especially the back of the legs (hamstrings) and the lower back. You sit on the floor with your legs extended and slowly bend forward. Then a yardstick is used to measure how far you can reach.

Body Composition Analysis

Skinfold calipers are used to 'pinch' fat around three to nine sections of the body including the waist, hips, arms, thighs, forearms, neck, chest, and calves. The doctor or personal trainer then uses an equation to come up with a surprisingly accurate body fat percentage.

Functional Movement Screen (FMS)

This thorough seven-point test encompasses:

  • Active Straight Leg Raise
  • Deep Squat
  • Hurdle Step
  • In-Line Lunge
  • Rotational Stability
  • Shoulder Mobility
  • Trunk Stability Push-Up

There are two salient points to keep in mind here:

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