So you have been running hard and regularly, but how fit are you really?
You can find the answer to this question after taking the 12 fitness tests I’m sharing with you below. But before you do that, let’s first discuss why you need to take them. After all, fitness means different things to different people.
Image Credit – Robb Hammer via Flickr
The Well-rounded Runner
Sure, maybe you can run a 5K under 20 minutes, but that’s just one facet of fitness. Real fitness is about becoming fully rounded in all areas of fitness, whether it’s speed, endurance, agility, strength and flexibility.
You can be the best runner in town, but if you have upper body strength of a 7 years old and can’t touch your toes, then you are heading (and running) into the wrong direction, buddy.
My main purpose with my blog is not just to help you become a better runner, but be well rounded and develop your fitness on all levels.
The 12 Fitness Tests you Need to Take Right Now
I’m laying out 12 assessments to help give you an accurate reflection of your fitness. This assessment will provide you with a quick way to estimate your level of cardio fitness, muscular strength, endurance, mobility and flexibility.
Tests Are Good For Improving Performance
The score on each test can provide with a measure, a starting point, from you can start charting out your progress (or lack thereof) as you strive to become a well-rounded runner and athlete.
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Speed and Anaerobic Power
Whether your main running goal is to qualify for the Boston marathon, or finish a 5K run in less than 30 minutes, speed is of vital importance.
After all, every runner wants to run faster
As a runner, testing your speed is no-brainer. Nonetheless, if you have never tested your speed, you can’t really know how fast you are.
Here is a test that can help.
1. 200-meter sprint
Test it: begin the test with a 5-minute warm-up, then perform a series of sprints increasing speed with each round. Once you are warmed enough, set a stopwatch and sprint 200 meters at all out effort.
More than 50 seconds: Poor
40 to 50 seconds: Average
25 to 40 seconds: Good
Less than 25 seconds: Excellent.
Endurance and Cardio Conditioning
Speed is just one piece of the puzzle. You will also need endurance if you want to improve your athletic performance and become the best runner you can be.
Image Credit – John Strand via Flickr
2. Two-Mile Run
Test it: Run a two miler—that’s about eight laps on 400-meter track— at the fastest pace you can do. Just don’t forget to start with a proper warm-up that includes jogging and dynamic movements before jumping into the test.
More than 20 minutes: Poor
15 to 20 minutes: Average
12 to 15 minute: Good
Less than 12 minutes: Excellent
Upper Body Strength
Running is not just about the legs, your upper body has a say as well. If you have a strong upper body, then you will be able to keep good form with ease—especially when fatigue starts to set in—and to develop running economy, which is all about how efficiently you use oxygen while hitting the pavement.
Take these 3 simple tests to see where you are at.
Test it: Do as many push-ups as you can crank out with proper form— back straight, and legs fully extended the entire time.
10 or fewer: Poor
15 to 30: Average
30 to 40: Good.
40 and more: Excellent. You are fit. Keep it up.
4. The Pull-up
Test it: Grab a pull-up bar using an underhand grip—palms facing the body—with arms fully extended. Next, do as many pull-ups as possible with good form—pulling your body up until your chin is above the top of the bar.
6 or fewer: Poor
6 to 12: average
12 to 20 : Good
20 and more: excellent. You are in a phenomenal shape.
5. Bench Press
Test it: Get into a bench press machine. Next, while keeping your feet on the ground and core engaged the entire time, bring the barbell down until it reaches the mid-chest, pause, then slowly raise it up to the starting position.
For the full score, divide the maximum one-rep bench press you can do by your bodyweight.
Less than 1.0: Poor
1.0 to 1.50 bodyweight: Good
1.5 or more: Excellent. You have phenomenal upper body strength.
Your core—the upper and lower abs, obliques, and glutes—are key for improving running performance and preventing injury. For more on core training benefits for runners, check this post.
Test your core power with these exercises
Test it: lay on your back with knees bent, feet on the floor, heels touching. Next, while keeping your elbows out and embracing your abs, do as many crunches as you can in one minute.
15 of fewer: Poor
15 to 30 : Average
30 to 50: Good
50 and more: Excellent
7. The Plank
Test it: Assume a plank position—forearms resting firmly on a mat, legs extended, and core activated. Next, hold the plank as long as you can with good form. Make sure to keep your body straight from head to ankles the entire time.
Less than one minute: Poor
One to two minutes: Average
Two to three minutes: Good
More than three minutes: Excellent. Keep it up.
Lower Body Strength and Endurance
Muscle imbalances in the lower body are one of the main causes of overuse injuries. Plus, you are really missing out if your running muscles—think calves, quads and hamstrings—are not strong enough to propel you forward.
Use the standard squat to test your lower body endurance and strength.
8. Bodyweight Squat
Test it: Assume a shoulder width stance, and do as many as squats as possible with good form—back straight and knees tracking behind the toes—for three minutes.
Less than 50: Poor
50 to 100: Average
100 to 200: Good
200 and more: Excellent.
Flexibility and mobility
Runners are notoriously known for tight hammies and calves, and this lack of flexibility can take a toll on your running and health. Study have linked tight lower body muscles to a myriad of overuse injuries such as Runners Knee, and ITB syndrome
As a result, assess how much flexibility you have by going through these 3 tests and find out where you fall short.
9. Thomas Test
The goal: Assess hip flexibility, precisely in the iliopsoas and quadriceps muscles.
You will need a partner for this one.
Lie on your back at the very edge of a bench and pull both knees using your arms to your chest.
Next, while keeping your lumbar spine flexed and flat on the bench, lower your right leg toward the bench and let it hang freely.
Have a partner measure where your right leg is hanging, then switch sides.
Your leg touches the bench: Good
The back of the leg is slightly off the surface: Average (your hip flexors are tight)
If your upper thigh won’t get parallel with the bench: Poor flexibility.
10. Sit and Reach
The goal: Assess hamstring and lower back flexibility
Sit on the floor with legs stretched out straight ahead. While keeping your knees locked and pressed to the floor, reach as far as you can without rounding your back toward or beyond your toes. Hold the position for at least three seconds and note how far down you can reach
You can easily reach and grab your toes: Good
You can grab your ankle or shins: Average
You can only grab your knees: Poor
11. Depth Squat
The goal: Assess mobility, flexibility and stability of the entire lower body, including the hips, hamstrings, knees, calves and ankles.
Stand with the feet shoulder width apart. Hold a pole in both hands and straighten your arms overhead as you drop into a deep squat while keeping your back flat, and knees tracking over your toes the entire time.
Ankles and heels remained in contact with the floor without any struggle: Good.
You struggle to keep your back flat and knees tracking over your toes but your heels are firmly on the ground: Average
You can’t come to the full squat without raising your heels off the ground: Poor
Total Body Strength and Conditioning Fitness
If you really want to test your fitness mettle, then I dare you to step into the box (a CrossFit gym), and start crossfitting on a regular basis. The whole philosophy behind CrossFit training is non-specificity and becoming good at every facets of fitness.
12. The Fran WOD
Here is a WOD (Workout Of the Day) to test your fitness level in the most well-rounded way possible.
Test it: One of my favorite Workouts Of the Day. This WOD includes 21 thrusters (95 pounds for men, 65 pounds for women) followed by 21 pull-ups, then 15 thrusters followed by 15-pull-ups. Then, finish it off with 9 thrusters followed by 9 pull-ups. Do these exercises as fast as you can with good form.
12 minutes and more: Poor
Eight to 12 minutes: average
Five to eight minutes: Good
Less than five minutes: Excellent.
Here you have it!
The above fitness tests can shed light on how fit you are really. So take them as soon as you can and keep track of your progress. That’s how you will improve.
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.
Feel free to leave your comments and questions below
Featured Image Credit – Anthony Byron via Flickr