If someone asked you what your fitness level was, what would you tell them? Beginner? Advanced? Somewhere in the middle? Those terms are all well and good, but a bit vague, don’t ya think? Wouldn’t it be better to really know where you stood? For one, you’d be able to find fitness programs that were a much better fit for you. Isn’t annoying when you start a workout and realize 10 minutes in, it was made for someone who considers a mile run a serious workout? On the flip side, it always a bit de-moralizing when you’ve got to quit your workout early because one more burpee will probably have you running to the bathroom to puke everywhere?
Not only will figuring out where you stand help you choose better and more appropriate workouts, but it’ll help you gauge your progress. Too many people fall into the same routine because they can’t tell if they’re making any progress. You’ll have no idea if all the work you’re putting in is getting you anywhere if you don’t have a baseline to compare to. This is why I’m going to give you a baseline fitness abilities test that I use with all of my clients. This test was designed to measure all of your most vital fitness skill sets and show you how you stack up. From there, I can recommend programs that are better suited to you and your abilities, thus making our workouts even more effective for you. So without further adieu, let’s check these quick fitness tests out…
- Max Burpees in 1 minute. This one is pretty simple. Perform one full minute of burpees, counting each rep. 1-8 = 1 point. 9-16 = 2 points. 17-24 = 3 points. 25+ = 4 points.
- 1 Mile run. Oh yes..the mile run. How many are immediately taken back to grade school here? A mile is a perfect gauge of mid-distance endurance and will let you how you’re cardiovascular system is doing. 13+ minutes = 1 point. 10-12:59 = 2 points. 7-9:59 = 3 points. Sub 7 minutes =4 points.
- Max Squat. You’ll need to be careful here not to injure yourself; we’re just looking for a ball park. The 1 rep max squat is a great testament to your body strength. As you may know, the squat targets a wide variety of muscles in your lower body, giving you a good overall sense of your lower strength. 50% of your bodyweight = 1 point. 100% of your bodyweight = 2 points. 150% of your bodyweight = 3 points. 150%+ of your bodyweight = 4 points.
- Max Bench Press. Definitely grab a spotter for this one. Like the squat, we want to see how much weight you can press in one repetition. The bench press, while no means the best indicator of total fitness ability, despite claims by meatheads everywhere, provides a good gauge of your upper body strength. 0-40% of your bodyweight = 1 point. 41-80% of your bodyweight = 2 points. 81-120% of your bodyweight = 3 points. 121%+ of your bodyweight = 4 points.
- Jump Rope skips in 1 minute. This one is going to test not only your endurance, but your speed, agility, and muscular endurance in both your upper body and lower. Go for max skips in minute and be sure to count each jump once. 0-40 skips = 1 point. 41-80 skips = 2 points. 81-120 skips = 3 points. 121+ skips = 4 points.
- Max Plank Hold. Time to take things down to the ground and see how that core strength is doing. We’re going to test your ability to hold a plank, so simply get into position, keep good form (hips level and square to the ground), and hold until the burn overtakes you. 0-30 seconds = 1 point. 31-60 seconds = 2 points. 61-90 seconds 3 points.91+seconds = 4 points.
- Max Box Jumps in 1 minute on ~18 inch box. Feel free to use a bench or box for this one, just make sure its right about 18 inches. Start the timer and see how many reps you can knock out. This one tests your ability to perform during plyometric exercise which is a good gauge of your explosive power and fast-twitch muscle endurance. 0-12 jumps = 1 point. 13-20 jumps = 2 points. 21-28 jumps = 3 points. 28+ jumps = 4 points.
- Max Clean and Press in 1 minute. For the weight on this one, use 50% of your bodyweight. This fitness test is going to determine how well you perform high-intensity muscular endurance exercises with an aerobic element. In other words, how will your muscles perform when you’re gasping for air? Use proper form and go for max number of reps in 1 minute. 0-6 reps = 1 point. 7-12 reps = 2 points. 13-19 reps = 3 points. 20+ reps = 4 points.
Needless to say, you’re going to want to split these fitness tests up and perform them on different days to determine your true potential. Having said that, and now that I think about it, this could probably pretty easily be turned into a killer circuit style workout. Give me a little while and I’ll see what I can do here, but for our purposes today, let’s just focus on using this to test our abilities.
Once you’ve completed them all, it’s time to figure out how you stack up. Make a note on your performance of each exercise, then compare to the guidelines below…
- 8-15 points – You’re an absolute beginner, or are performing like one. If you’ve been exercising for a while and are still at this level, something isn’t right. It’s time to fix your program and do something that works. You likely have a lot of ground to gain in both the strength and endurance realms, but the good news is, progress comes quickest to those falling in this group. Stick with a program designed for beginners with an emphasis on pushing you carefully, but continuously past your perceived limits.
- 16-20 points – You can go ahead and call yourself a novice at this level. You have a solid fitness ability, but have not yet mastered an all around high-level of fitness. You likely have holes in either strength or endurance, or possibly both. Focus on your problem areas while continuing to push your strengths with engaging and unique workout routines.
- 21-27 points – You’re definitely a cut above most people you work out alongside in the gym. People probably look to you for inspiration. That said, you’re probably still checking out the most fit and active people wondering how they got to where they are. If you’re scoring 3’s or above in most categories, you’re hitting the point where most people begin to plateau. Pushing yourself past a plateau is hard for anyone. You likely need to work on sharpening your mental discipline and find a plan that changes exercise formats frequently.
- 28-32 points – By scoring in this range, you’re likely hitting 4’s on at least half of all the fitness tests above. You’re a beast, but being a beast, you know there is always more work to be done. No one ever reaches “perfection” and pushing yourself isn’t a real obstacle for you. Your biggest challenge is usually finding a plan that is up to your standards and will help keep you working hard enough to avoid hitting that lull and plateau-ing. Finding a plan that seamlessly challenges your fast-twitch muscle fibers, cardiovascular system, and major muscle groups through heavy/light lift sequences is your best bet to keep the progress flowing.
Now that you have a better idea of where you’re at, it’s time to look at some sample workout plans that will help take you to the next level and beyond.
- Beginner Plan – Progressive Beginner Plan. This beginner level plan is made to take someone with a very basic level of fitness and carefully push them past their comfort zone. By sticking with this plan for a period of time, the beginner will develop the confidence, endurance, and strength necessary to move on to more challenging workout plans.
- Intermediate Plan – The Total Body Blitz Series. This three-part plan is made for people with a solid base of fitness ability who want to take things to the next level. Following all parts of this plan will have you completing the above fitness tests with 3’s and 4’s by the end of part III.
- Advanced Plan – The Total Body Superset Complex Workout Plan or The HIIT Workout Series. At this stage, you have a pretty good idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are. You should find a plan that works for you, with both of the above great options for the advanced exerciser. If you’re looking for more all around conditioning, combining plans is a great idea. This will help keep things interesting and push you past any plateaus you may be encountering.
- BEAST Plan – The Baddest Workout Routine on the Planet or The “Level Up” Workout. You’re a beast. You know you’re a beast. Everyone at the gym knows you’re a beast. As a beast, I’m only suggesting some workouts that have personally pushed me to the brink. You know what tests you by now, so use the above plans as you see fit. The “Level Up” workout is an exercise plan that makes use of some of our hardest workouts we’ve posted on the blog. They’ve been carefully combined to ensure progress is made for even the most fit individuals. If you’re a beast and not liking what you’re seeing here, feel free to comment or send a message and I’d be happy to work with you to find things even more tailored to your abilities.