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What Is Fitness Testing? Overview & Reasons For Testing

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Looking to find an answer to the question ‘what is fitness testing?’  

Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast looking to push yourself further or you’re preparing for a fitness test as part of a job application, we’ve got everything you need to know in one place!

In this article, we’ll cover:

But before we begin, why not turn your passion for fitness into a career and help others by becoming a fitness professional? Enquire about our Personal Trainer Diploma or download our course prospectus to find out more.

 

What is Fitness Testing?

Man Fitness Testing

In short, fitness testing is the term used to describe the process of testing your current state of fitness. There are multiple ways of doing this as a result of there being around 11 different components that make up your overall . 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach here, otherwise there would only be one way of testing your fitness rather than multiple possibilities.

For professional athletes, testing fitness is incredibly important and can make the difference between success and failure in any upcoming competitions or events.  

Tests are also used to assess candidates for job roles that require a certain level of fitness. This could be why you’re here in the first place, especially if you’re looking to perform a few practice runs before you show up on the big day.

In case you didn’t already know, roles that usually require fitness testing in the UK prior to employment include:

  • The Police 
  • The British Army 
  • The RAF
  • The Royal Navy 

Fitness Training for Work

For these careers, fitness tests are put in place to ensure the safety of the candidate and any colleagues or members of the public should they make it to the next stage of their application. 

Not only this, but they’re often used to determine whether those who are already employed can properly fulfil their duties.

If you’re interested in learning more about careers and different job roles, check out out article exploring ‘Highest Paying Fitness Jobs’.

Reasons for Fitness Testing

While we’ve briefly discussed the main reasons for fitness testing above, we haven’t gone into enough detail to cover the entire subject. 

For example, if you’re a professional athlete then your reasons for completing a fitness test, or multiple assessments, could be completely different to someone who is trying to land a role with the British Armed Forces. 

Similarly, if you’re a newly qualified fitness professional or someone who is considering learning how to become a personal trainer, you will have the safety of your clients in mind over any other personal reasons. 

With all this in mind, some of the main reasons for fitness testing include:

#1 - Determining Health & Fitness Levels

Reasons for Fitness Testing

If you're asking 'why is fitness testing so important?', you should know the health of the individual is the priority.

The great thing about the term is it’s pretty holistic, which means fitness tests can be completed to determine fitness levels within each of the 11 components of fitness, whether they’re health or skill-related! 

For fitness professionals training one-to-one with clients, a fitness assessment should always be one of the first things completed before structuring an exercise plan. 

It gives the trainer a solid idea of the client’s current fitness levels, which is a vital piece of information required before creating an exercise programme that targets and boosts any areas of fitness the client is lacking in. 

Not only this but when it comes to assessing the effectiveness of a programme, the trainer now has something to revert back to and use for an accurate comparison.

This makes it much easier to track the client’s progress within the different areas of fitness, before proceeding to make any necessary adjustments to their training programme. 

Everyone is different when it comes to progressing through both health and skill-related components of fitness, so it’s vital to ensure each individual client has a fully customised plan that stays the same way throughout the entirety of their journey.

#2 - Identifying Any Strengths & Weaknesses

Woman testing fitness

Whether the person undergoing the fitness test is an experienced athlete or someone who has just started at the gym, it’s definitely useful to identify any current strengths or weaknesses across the different areas.

For newbies, strengths and weaknesses are determined by comparing their results to others in the same training group/demographic. This information allows the trainer to focus on areas they’re lacking in, to make necessary adjustments.  

Acquiring this information also allows trainers to incorporate exercises that the client will perform well in. This allows them to build muscle mass and drop excess fat at a faster rate, when compared to exercises they’d find challenging.

It also adds a layer of motivation for personal training clients, as they want to feel as though they’re able to get through their workouts and that they’re completing exercises they enjoy. 

For athletes, strengths and weaknesses are usually found by comparing results to those who practise the same sport. This allows for accurate training decisions to be made to target their competition. 

This is arguably one of the most essential reasons for conducting fitness tests, as refusal to adapt to a specific weakness could result in a negative performance come competition time.

#3 - Assisting in Setting Health & Fitness Goals

Plan for Fitness Testing  

Another example of the main benefits of fitness testing is it allows trainers and clients to set actionable goals to complete before the next assessment is conducted.

The motive behind these goals is to improve the results of the next test, mainly in areas that you set out to improve on the last one. If you walk blindly into an exercise plan without an awareness of the areas you most need to work on, your results won’t reflect their full potential. 

That’s not to say you won’t see results this way, but they could certainly be better with the help of fitness assessments.

The conclusions from an initial test will help the client or athlete to achieve optimal results through a fully tailored set of fitness goals. The alternative would be trying to reach a set of cloudy and unfocused goals, that would result in lost motivation.

#4 - Evaluating Fitness Programmes 

Evaluating Fitness Testing

When discussing the different reasons for fitness testing, many professionals in the industry will often attest to their effectiveness for evaluating workout programmes.

Specifically, these tests can be used to track a client’s progress as their exercise programme unfolds, seeing how their results improve over time.

Depending on how often you train, the time range for noticing a change in any component of fitness is around 2-6 weeks. Some areas will take longer to create notable changes so can be tested at longer intervals.

For example, you may test your cardiovascular endurance every 3 weeks but decide to check on a skill-related component such as agility or flexibility every 3-6 months if it isn’t a priority in your training. 

Athletes and those training them will find the fitness testing for sports and exercise processes helpful for motivation and amplifying progress before competitions.

It’s one of the most important aspects of their training, especially since they will be competing against others who are focusing on their chosen components of fitness. The more they undergo fitness assessments, the more they tweak their programme and become better athletes.

 

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#5 - Assessing Fitness Levels Post-Injury or Illness

Fitness testing injury

No matter how much you hate to admit it, it’s true that at least some of your fitness will be lost if you suffer from an injury or illness that takes you away from your training or means you can’t train in certain areas for a significant period of time.

In most cases, the fitness levels that are lost are pretty big, which means it’s so important that relevant fitness tests are carried out so the client or athlete can get back on track as soon as possible!

If you’re a fitness professional, you can do things alongside testing fitness to get your clients back on their feet. This may include completing a course in Sports Massage Therapy in doing so, you could cross refer clients to your SMT practice and offer treatments to aid in rehabilitation. 

#6 - Boosting Motivation

Using Fitness Testing to Motivate Clients

The first fitness assessment that is performed with a client, whether they’re an athlete or a complete novice, is bound to leave them feeling a little disillusioned. 

No one likes hearing they have a certain weakness or something to improve upon. However, once it comes to the third or fourth test, this is where the motivation really starts to soar.  

The individual will be able to see how far they have come since their first test, which brings a great sense of accomplishment as well as the motivation to push themselves further. 

Poor results can also help to boost motivation, which is surprising but true for many of those looking to improve their fitness. 

It provides an incentive to do better if a score for a certain test is lower than another. The individual can make the necessary changes to their programme and up their effort, by perhaps adding in a few extra sessions per month and transforming their fitness further!

This shows how the benefits of fitness testing include a greater motivation to continue on an exercise programme, making exercise more sustainable for those who undergo it. 

#7 - Assessing Potential Employees 

Fitness Testing for Jobs

As we mentioned earlier, one of the most well-known reasons for fitness testing outside of those that benefit the individual is to assess the fitness of potential employees. 

Roles that require a fitness assessment to ensure the candidate’s employability include:

  • The British Armed Forces
  • The Police 
  • Firefighters 
  • Lifeguards 
  • Certain Construction Jobs 

They will test their candidates to determine whether they have the required level of fitness to fulfil their roles safely, and then continue to test them throughout their term of employment. 

This ensures the safety of those they work with as well as their own safety, as they usually work within high-risk situations.  

In their study on the effectiveness of certain tests when it comes to the safe recruitment of Law Enforcement Officers, Jennifer Woodland (Bond University) et al concluded:

This review found that push-up testing and the 1.5 mile run times had a strong positive correlation to police academy graduation. This may be due to the fact that push-ups and the 1.5 mile run are common methods of training for police officers and offer the convenience of equipment-free training options.

It's clear here that aspiring officers or those looking to get into the British Armed Forces, etc. have a much better chance of success when they train for their desired role through regular fitness assessments. If they enlist the help of a fitness professional during this time, it seems as though they will have a better chance of succeeding in their career assessment.

Types of Fitness Testing

There are endless possibilities when it comes to the assessments you can conduct, these fall under the ‘different types of fitness testing’. 

Whilst it may be tempting to flex your creative muscles here, you should stick to the fitness tests that are widely used across the health and fitness industry. That’s because they are supported by scientific research and have decades worth of evidence to support their effectiveness.

These are accurate and will provide you with plenty of data to compare your own results to. The more popular a certain fitness assessment method, the more recorded test results you will come across!

Health-Related Components of Fitness:

#1 - Cardiovascular Endurance Testing 

Cardiovascular Fitness Testing

Cardiovascular endurance testing calculates how effectively your heart and lungs work together during long-duration exercise. Specifically analysing how the organs supply your body with the energy and oxygen it needs to continue. 

It relates directly to the health of your cardiorespiratory system and is probably one of the most important reasons for testing fitness when it comes to identifying any weaknesses in your overall fitness levels. 

If your cardiovascular endurance isn’t in good condition, it’s definitely something among other aspects you should work on as a priority during your training! 

Why You Should Train & Test It:

  • To gain an insight into your overall fitness - it’s one of the best indicators! 
  • If you’re looking to train for and compete in any sports or events that require good cardiovascular endurance and health, such as running, cycling, swimming, etc. 
  • If you want to increase the amount of time you can exercise for (in comparison to building your speed or power).
  • To uncover any signs of you developing heart disease or any other chronic diseases - results can sometimes reflect this.

Recommended Tests: 

The three-minute step test is one of the most widely used methods for testing cardiovascular endurance, especially since it’s pretty easy to execute as it requires minimal equipment. 

However, other tests include: 

  • The Multi-Stage Bleep Test (used by the UK Police and the Armed Forces, etc.) 
  • 2.4km Run 
  • 12-minute Run Test (performed on a treadmill)

#2 - Muscular Endurance Testing

Fitness Testing Muscular Endurance

Testing muscular endurance is a great way of assessing how effective your current fitness programme is. 

While it doesn’t concern overall strength, it focuses on how long the muscles can tolerate a high amount of repetitions or a more long-duration activity as opposed to how much weight they can lift during the average 8-12 reps used in weight training.  

If you’re planning on training endurance, check out our list of the Top Push-Up Bars.

Why You Should Train & Test It: 

  • To get an idea of the effectiveness of your current fitness programme.
  • If you’re looking to improve the time it takes for your muscles to reach fatigue - important for those who are getting into weight training or powerlifting!
  • If you want to train for a long-duration activity that requires heavy muscle use, such as running and cycling.

Recommended Tests: 

  • Push-up test (for the upper-body, testing the biceps, triceps, pecs, deltoids, and abs).
  • Plank hold (for the core and abs specifically, testing the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques, hip flexors, and erector spinae).
  • Squat test (for the lower-body, testing the hamstrings, quadriceps, hips, and lower back). 

#3 - Muscular Strength Testing

Strength Training Fitness Testing

When looking into this form of testing fitness, it’s important to know it’s different from muscular endurance testing.

While endurance is a literal measure of how long your muscles can endure physical exercise before they fatigue, strength is more about the impact your muscles can exert on a one-time basis. 

Muscular strength testing provides the individual with an insight into how effective their current training programme is for fine-tuning the strength of individual muscle groups. This helps them to identify any areas that may need more intervention than others. 

The one drawback to muscular strength testing, as with testing muscular endurance, is it’s difficult to take a holistic approach. You will need to perform a few different tests on separate muscle groups to get the most accurate results. 

The most ‘holistic’ approach to this would be to perform a ‘one rep max test’ on each of the areas you wish to test. 

This involves exactly what you would imagine! It’s a test of the maximum amount of weight you can lift with a certain muscle group for only one rep. Working this out is pretty simple and looks something like this: 

0.033 x Reps completed x weight lifted (kg) + weight lifted (kg)

To give an example, if you benched 20kg for 8 reps before your muscles fatigued, your personalised 1RM equation for this muscle group would be:  

(0.033 x 8 x 20) + 20 = 25.28

If we round 25.28 down to 25kg, then we would get the maximum weight you could bench or lift with this specific muscle group. 

Each time you come to complete your fitness assessment for the month, it’s a good idea to monitor your progress for each exercise that you complete on a regular basis to get a good idea of your muscular strength! 

Why You Should Train & Test It: 

  • To track and monitor your progress in weight training or powerlifting.
  • To create actionable goals when it comes to increasing your 1RM/strength.
  • If you wish to compete in powerlifting competitions or sports that involve a good amount of muscular strength and power as well as endurance.

Recommended Tests:

  • One rep max test (the most holistic approach)

#4 - Flexibility Testing

Flexibility Fitness Testing

You may picture someone in a leotard performing backflips and somersaults when you think about flexibility, but it isn’t limited to gymnasts and trapeze artists.

It’s actually a really important area of fitness to work on, as it’s counted as a health-related fitness component as opposed to a skill-related one, which supports our point.  

Regular flexibility testing will not only give you an insight into how close you are to being able to do the splits (this isn’t a requirement!), but it will indicate how close you are to reaching an optimal range of motion (ROM) for your chosen sport or exercise activity.  

Increasing your ROM and overall flexibility is incredibly beneficial, as it will mean your body can withstand greater physical strain and be less likely to sustain injuries.

It will also help you improve your posture and rid your body of any muscle imbalances, which also makes it less likely for you to get injured.

Why You Should Train & Test It:

  • To get an idea of your current ROM (range of motion).
  • If you wish to compete in sports or events that require good flexibility.
  • To improve your overall athletics performance.
  • If you wish to lessen your chances of injury when exercising or playing sport. 

Recommended Tests: 

  • Sit & reach test
  • V-Sit test
  • Side-bending test

#5 - Body Composition Testing

Body Composition Fitness Testing

Not only is it incredibly important to target this in every exercise programme due to the poor health implications of carrying large amounts of excess body fat, but it happens to be one of the central fitness goals for most people embarking upon a new fitness journey.  

Body composition refers to the body fat mass to fat-free mass ratio you’re currently storing. Fat-free mass includes bones, muscles, and organs. 

It’s clear the aim here is to achieve a low fat-mass to fat-free mass ratio and the best way to do that is to build on your muscle mass to burn excess fat and achieve a lean figure! 

If you complete body composition testing on a regular basis, not only will you see positive changes in your health due to the loss in body fat percentage, but you’ll also see an improved physique and benefit from a boost in motivation. 

While body composition testing can be done at home with a pair of skinfold callipers, it is a test accurately completed with the help of a fitness professional and is more likely to be correct if carried out this way. 

Why You Should Train & Test It:

  • If your goal is to achieve a lean and toned physique.
  • If you want to reduce your body fat percentage and increase your muscle mass.
  • If you want to see improved overall health and fitness.
  • If you want to boost your athletic performance.
  • To boost your motivation when it comes to working towards your fitness goals.

Recommended Tests:

  • Skin fold callipers - cheapest and easiest way.
  • Body circumference measurements.

Skill-Related Fitness Components:

#6 - Power Fitness Testing 

Power Fitness Testing

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘explosive power’ thrown around or maybe you’ve witnessed this skill-related area of fitness in action! 

Power relates to the ability to utilise maximum force at the fastest possible speed. It does link to speed and strength, but can definitely be viewed alone. Exercises that use ‘explosive power’ are often completed within high-intensity workouts and are known for rapidly burning calories. 

Those looking to improve their performance in sports such as football, rugby, basketball will definitely benefit from training and testing their explosive power.  

When large muscle groups are contracted in unison at a rapid pace, it’s only natural the strength of those muscles will increase as well as their power ability, so this is a great skill to work on when it comes to sports. 

Even if an individual has no interest in sports, they can see a number of health benefits from training power, such as improved cardiovascular health, endurance, strength, and overall body composition from the fat-burning properties of the exercise.  

Why You Should Train & Test It:

  • Improved sports performance.
  • Health-related benefits as well as improved skills.
  • If you want to improve your ‘explosive power’ during workouts and everyday activities.

Recommended Tests: 

  • Vertical jump test  
  • Medicine ball throw 
  • 30m sprint test

#7 - Speed Fitness Testing

Speed Fitness Testing

When it comes to speed fitness testing, it’s important to know the method you’ll use will depend on which area of speed you need to test.  

For example, if you’re an avid cyclist or looking to get into competitive cycling, there would be little point in testing your sprint speed. It would be more productive to complete a 40m cycling sprint and track and monitor your progress this way!

As it’s a skill-related area of fitness, it makes sense most people completing speed fitness tests will be athletes or those looking to improve their sports performance.

However, that’s not to say recreational gym goers won’t benefit from training and testing their speed in the activities that they enjoy. Just like power, training speed can boost metabolic rate and improve things such as cardiovascular health.

Why You Should Train & Test It:

  • To improve your ROM and flexibility, and prevent injury. 
  • To boost your metabolic rate.
  • To improve cardiovascular health & endurance.
  • If you wish to compete in sports or activities that require a high-level of speed.

Recommended Tests: 

  • 40 yard dash 
  • 30m sprint
  • Cycling 40m sprint 
  • 10x5m shuttle

#8 - Agility Testing

Fitness Testing for Agility

Another of the skill-related areas of fitness, agility is an essential training and testing area for those who wish to play competitive sports.

Not only will it enhance their sports performance in terms of dodging players on the opposite team and constantly changing direction, but it will also help to prevent serious injuries that can occur from these kinds of movements, such as ACL damage or tears. 

The great news is agility testing and training can be beneficial for those who wish to improve how they move in their day-to-day lives, or during their workouts.

It can give the individual a sense of greater control over their body and improve their overall cognitive function and focus, even outside of exercise.

Why you should train & test it:  

  • If you plan on participating in competitive sports.
  • If you want to boost injury prevention in sports and everyday activities.
  • To speed up recovery time post-workout.
  • To improve overall cognitive function.

Recommended tests: 

  • Shuttle run test 
  • T-Test
  • Zig-zag test 

#9 - Coordination Testing

Fitness Testing while jumping rope

Coordination testing is vital for athletes, especially those competing in sports that require throwing, catching, or hitting a ball or a target. Since this covers most sports, it’s easy to see why coordination is so important to train for those competing! 

Alongside the relevant skill and health-related areas of fitness that individuals must monitor when competing in sports, coordination is something that improves gradually over time through regular training. 

It’s linked to cognitive function as well as physical fitness, so requires a different kind of training that focuses on hand-eye coordination rather than a vigorous physical effort. Training methods include juggling, dribbling, and skipping or jumping rope. 

The wall-toss test is probably the most effective way of measuring your coordination and it’s definitely done best with the help of a fitness professional who can mark your successful hits within a 30-second time period.

Why You Should Train & Test It:

  • For enhanced performance in competitive sports.
  • To gain greater control over your body’s movements.
  • To improve overall cognitive function.

Recommended Tests:

  • Wall-toss test  
  • Jump rope test

 

Start Your Fitness Career Today!

Enquire about our PT Diploma and test clients' fitness in as little as 4 weeks! 

#10 - Balance Testing

Fitness Testing for Balance

Working on your balance is never counterproductive when it comes to improving your fitness. 

It’s certainly something we make use of in everyday situations, as well as during physical activity whether it’s competing in sports or some low-impact training.

If anything, improved balance can give you a sense of accomplishment in having more control over your physical actions and your body in general. This is especially true if you’ve gone through periods of inactivity before getting into a proper workout routine. 

It can work wonders to improve motivation when you’ve never considered yourself as someone with good balance! For those competing in sports or partaking in vigorous physical activity, improving balance in the body will enhance overall performance.

It will help also to keep any nasty injuries at bay, both during sports and in everyday life.

Why You Should Train & Test It:

  • If you plan on partaking in sports and athletic activities.
  • To boost overall cognitive function.
  • For a greater awareness of your body’s movements. 
  • For improved injury prevention during physical activity and everyday activities.

Recommended Tests:

  • Standing stork test 
  • Beam walk 

#11 - Reaction Time

Trail Running for Fitness Testing

As reaction time can be applied to an incredible amount of high-risk situations both in fitness and the real world, it takes the lead in terms of importance. Let’s quickly talk about how tracking and improving your reaction time can benefit your training!

One of the easiest ways to check your reaction time if you don’t have a trainer is to head to Human Benchmark and complete their reaction time test.

However, if you’re completing regular fitness tests and want to be as accurate as possible, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of your trainer and perform a more physical test. This could be done using a piece of gym equipment or through some boxing drills.

If you wish to train your reaction time, a great way of doing so is trail running. This is because your reaction time will gradually improve as you learn to dodge obstacles while running at a high speed. It’s a bit of a lengthy process, but it’s a great method of transferring your reactions into a real life scenario!

Why You Should Train & Test It:

  • To enhance performance in competitive sports.
  • To improve reaction time to impulses during physical activity or sports.
  • If you’re looking to improve reaction time in everyday life.

Recommended Tests: 

  • Human benchmark online test 

Fitness Testing Protocols

One of the first things you should know before performing a fitness assessment is there are protocols for fitness testing that need to be followed to gain a holistic idea of an individual’s fitness. 

This is a great thing to make yourself aware of, whether you’re performing a self-assessment or you’re a fitness professional looking to test your clients.

While we’ve listed the 11 different types of fitness testing and the areas of fitness they relate to, it's important to know there is no singular way of testing fitness. 

Although it would be much simpler to have one method to follow, this just isn’t the case! 

So, just what are the protocols for fitness testing that can be followed to achieve an accurate assessment? 

While there are endless possibilities, here’s one example of an assessment structure:

Fitness Testing Example 1

By following a simple fitness assessment such as this, you will be able to gain a pretty well-rounded idea of your client’s fitness levels. Following this, you’ll then be able to pair this information with relevant SMART Health goals to create a customised fitness programme.

The areas of fitness you test here will also depend heavily on the fitness goals of the client and we’ve put together a simple yet effective example: 

Advanced Protocols for Fitness Testing

To give you an idea of what a fitness assessment could look like if it was tailored towards a client with fitness goals for a particular sport or activity, we’ve put together another example. 

This assessment should reflect a more in-depth look at a client’s fitness, especially with the introduction of some skill-related areas of fitness. 

Fitness Testing Example

Power, agility, and balance could be something an athlete would want to measure or they could equally tie into the fitness goals of a client who was looking to enhance their skills in these areas.

You can tweak and change the tests you perform with clients and even make them more in-depth and customised once they’ve made significant progress. 

There really is no end to the possibilities when it comes to the different types of fitness testing, as there are way more methods to test these than there are areas of fitness.

In fact, there are over 300 fitness tests in existence, so you have plenty of options to choose from! Just be sure to choose wisely and go with methods that are backed by significant scientific research or approval.

Protocols for Fitness Testing: Self-Assessment

If you’re an athlete or fitness enthusiast looking to perform a full-body fitness assessment on yourself, there are protocols you can follow at home to gain a good idea of your current fitness levels.

However, it’s important to note it will be difficult to get an accurate reading during any assessment when you’re performing it alone, unless you’ve been adequately trained, with a Level 3 Personal Training course for example.

To give you an example of a holistic fitness assessment you can perform at home, check out our graphic below:

Example of Fitness Testing

As you can see, this test requires little to no equipment to complete. You’ll likely need nothing more than:

  • Tape measure
  • A pair of skinfold callipers
  • Stopwatch
  • Cones or Markers.

This is just one example but you can see how easy it is to get a general idea of your current fitness before you embark on a new fitness routine!

 

Start Your Fitness Career Today!

Enquire about our PT Diploma and test clients' fitness in as little as 4 weeks! 

Informed Consent Form for Fitness Testing

Signing Fitness Testing Consent Form

If you’re a fully qualified fitness professional or want to become a Level 3 Personal Trainer, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the correct methods of fitness testing, especially since you’ll be working closely with clients to track and monitor their progress throughout their fitness journey.

The main thing to know before completing a fitness test with your clients is you should get them to fill in an informed consent form for fitness testing. 

This isn’t always an individual form, as it’s usually mentioned within the standard consent form a client fills in prior to training with you. The reason for this is fitness testing is a standard procedure at the beginning of any exercise programme conducted by a fitness professional. 

Check out our sample informed consent form for fitness testing below to see what this may look like:

Fitness Testing Consent Form

As you can see, this requires the participant to print and sign their name, as well as include the date once they have read and understood the form.

If you’d like more information relating to this topic, check our detailed article breaking down how to create an informed consent form as a personal trainer! 

Limitations of Fitness Testing

Now you know the different methods and understand how they can form an assessment of fitness, it’s time to take a look at some of the limitations of fitness testing.

As with anything, it’s important to understand the limitations of fitness testing so when you perform an assessment for a client or yourself, you’re able to do it with a good level of accuracy.

#1 - Many Fitness Tests Don’t Represent Competitive Conditions Accurately

Accuracy of fitness testing environments

It’s true that there are many fitness tests out there that don’t accurately represent the conditions present in competitive sports or activities. 

Even some tests which prove the validity of fitness testing within the wider industry fall under this category. However, while they are a relatively precise method of testing in comparison to their less popular counterparts, they still hold their own limitations.

For example, although the multi-stage bleep test is a great way of testing cardiovascular fitness, it doesn’t recreate the exact environment an individual will be faced with during a competitive activity. 

This also applies to military or policing environments that will throw a lot more at an individual than a bleep test!

Things like terrain, psychological stress, and anxiety will arise in tense situations. This will certainly play a part in how well the individual performs and how effective their current level of fitness will be in aiding them.

#2 - Genetics Can Play a Part

Fitness Training with PT

While we’ve stated there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for fitness testing methods, this also applies to the regularly forgotten fact genetics can affect how an individual’s fitness is recorded on paper as opposed to how it looks in practice. 

For example, if we tested a group of individuals on their flexibility using the sit and reach test, some would do better than others depending on their arm to leg length ratio.

It would be careless to think we all have the same genetics when it comes to how long our arms are in comparison to our legs. This means one of the main limitations of fitness testing in this context would be that genetics can have a pretty big impact on results!

#3 - Accuracy Can Mean Expense

VO2 Fitness Testing

The truth is, some of the most accurate fitness assessments come with a large price tag.

The best example of this would be the price of a VO2 Max Test for athletes. From our research, prices are anywhere from £65 to £250 depending on location and other attached services. 

This fitness testing method requires a sports performance lab to host it as it cannot be performed in a home or gym setting due to the sheer amount of equipment required to gain an accurate reading. 

We doubt many regular gym goers could afford this equipment, as well as the treadmill or fitness bike required for it. It’s likely they also lack the training it would take to be able to analyse the results. 

However, there are other fitness assessment methods that require expensive equipment to complete. Unless you’re a professional athlete, you probably won’t be able to gain access to these kinds of tests. 

#4 - Some Test Are Weather Permitting

Weather for Fitness Testing

Even if you’re planning on completing a seemingly simple test such as the 30m sprint, you might want to think carefully about how you carry it out. 

If you plan to perform a fitness test outside, the weather is something you’ll have to take into account. 

Depending on the weather and any harsh conditions it creates, you can suffer with reduced traction while running or reduced speed from a heavy tailwind amongst other things, which may heavily skew your results.

#5 - They’re Most Accurate With the Help of a Fitness Professional

Trainer Fitness Testing

It’s difficult to conduct an accurate fitness assessment on yourself, especially since many require a stopwatch and every second counts!

The validity of fitness testing relies on being conducted by a fitness professional, meaning one of the biggest limitations is assessments not being accurate when it’s conducted by an unqualified individual.  

In their essay 'Enhancing the Evaluation and Interpretation of Fitness Testing data within Youth Athletes', Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching Dr. Kevil Till (PhD) et al write:

With the increase in popularity of fitness testing in youth athletes along with the increased understanding about maturational variability, it is more important than ever that practitioners appropriately analyse and accurately evaluate and interpret data related to youth or developmental athletes.

If you invest in a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach, not only will you get a fully customised exercise programme but you’ll also get the most accurate fitness tests possible on a regular basis to effectively monitor your progress.

Before You Go!

Now you know about the different types of fitness testing and how they can be used to monitor athletic progress, you will be able to implement these assessments into your own practice or that of your clients.

Speaking of which, if you want to conduct these assessments to help improve the physical fitness of others, then enquire about out Personal Trainer Diploma today! 

You can also download our course prospectus here for FREE, to learn more about this and all other OriGym qualifications.


References:

  1. Zulfiqar, M.M., Woodland, J., Orr, R., Schram, B., Dawes, J. and Lockie, R., 2017. Fitness Testing in Law Enforcement Officers: A Critical Review. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 29(1).
  2. Till, K., Morris, R., Emmonds, S., Jones, B. and Cobley, S., 2018. Enhancing the evaluation and interpretation of fitness testing data within youth athletes. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 40(5), pp.24-33.

Written by Chloe Twist

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Chloe on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Chloe graduated with a BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and prior to OriGym worked at J&R Digital Marketing Agency on the Liverpool 'Female Founders' series. Since joining the company, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and advanced Sports Nutrition Specialist. Chloe’s professional interests intersect content-development and the world of online fitness, especially across social media and YouTube, and Chloe has herself contributed pieces on fitness and weight loss to sites including the Daily Star and The Express. Outside her day-to-day role, Chloe enjoys playing the guitar, gaming and kettlebell training. 

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