How Fit Are You, Really?

Take these 7 tests to see how your fitness levels stack up against the average person's.

When it comes to tackling a new fitness goal, it can be tricky to know where to begin. Whether you want to master a body weight pull-up, run your first marathon or even just join a new gym, it’s sometimes tempting to launch straight in without guidance or preparation. But before you start any new fitness program, it’s crucial to take stock of where you’re already at. Even if you’re already regularly pounding the pavement or hitting the gym, many people don’t have a great idea of their overall fitness levels. Sure, you may know how far you can run without getting puffed or how much you weigh. But these are just small pieces of the overall puzzle and not a great representation of how fit you are, overall.
That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly test all aspects of your fitness. This includes not only your strength and cardiovascular fitness, but your flexibility, balance, core stability, endurance and agility. Not only will it help give you an idea of what you need to work on, it’s a great benchmark that you can measure your progress against over time. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be like at school when had to endure the public humiliation that is the ‘beep test.’ You can do all of these simple tests on your own in the gym or depending on what equipment you’ve got, the comfort of your own home. Here are 7 fitness tests from you should take every few months to monitor your progress.

Upper body strength

invered row

To check how strong your upper body is, try the three-rep inverted row test. Lie face-up on the floor, with your shoulders directly underneath a secure barbell. It should be far enough off the ground that when you grab it, your back isn’t resting on the ground. Using an overhand grip, hold the bar with your hands wider than shoulder width. Then, try these three reps:
Rep one: With your knees bent 90 degrees place your feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips to form a straight line from shoulders to knees, then pull your body to the bar. If you can touch your chest to the bar, move on to the next rep.
Rep two: Extend your legs so your body is in a straight line. Repeat the movement from rep one by pulling your body to the bar. If you can touch the bar with your chest, move on to rep three.
Rep three: Place your feet on an exercise bench or box so your legs are in line with your shoulders. Perform the same movement, pulling your body to the bar while maintaining a straight line.

How you measure up:

Excellent: If you can do all three reps with proper form                                               Good: If you can complete one or two reps with proper form                                         Below average: If you can’t complete one rep

Lower body strength

Image: iStock
Image: iStock

To test your lower body strength, try the three-rep single leg squat. Testing each leg separately, complete one rep successfully then move on to the next.
Rep one: Place a bench about 30 cm behind you and stand on your right leg. Lift your left leg and hold both arms in front of you. Bend your right knee and lower until you are sitting on the bench. Pause, then drive back up to the starting position.
Rep two: Get into the same starting position from rep one and lower yourself until you are almost sitting on the bench. Graze the bench and drive back up without touching the bench.

Rep three:
Stand on the bench and balance on your right leg with your left foot off the bench, with your arms straight in front of you. Bend your right knee and sit back as far as you can into a squat, while still being able to drive back up to the starting position.

How you measure up:

Excellent: If you can complete all three reps with proper form
Good: If you can complete reps one and two with proper form, but not rep three
Below Average: If you can’t complete rep one with proper form


Image: iStock

The four-point touch is a great way to test your agility. Set up four markers in a square, about 3 metres apart. Stand in the middle with your knees and hips bent and set a timer to 15 seconds. Sprint as fast as you can to the front left marker and touch it with your left hand. Return to the centre, then repeat to the front right marker. Continue this pattern, moving clockwise, trying to touch as many as you can in 15 seconds.

How you measure up:

Excellent: If you can touch nine or more markers
Good: If you can touch six to eight markers
Below Average: If you can touch less than six markers

Core strength

Image: iStock

Want to find out how strong those abs really are? Take the walk out test. Get onto your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor. Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees, and your back flat. Slowly walk your hands away from your body, keeping your arms straight and your core and glutes activated. Extend as far as you can, hold for 20 seconds, then slowly walk your hands back to the starting position. If you fall, drop your hips, or lose form at any point, retry the test.

How you measure up

Excellent: If your thighs are nearly parallel to the ground
Good: If your thighs are less than 45 degrees to the ground
Below Average: If your thighs are more than 45 degrees to the ground or you’re unable to hold the position for 20 seconds


Image: iStock
Image: iStock

The leg matrix is a fantastic way to test the endurance of both your lungs and muscles (essential for runners!) Attempt all four moves back-to-back without rest. If you stop or can’t maintain proper form, that’s the end of the test.
Squat: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands behind your head. Lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then push through your heels to return to standing.
Lunge: Stand with your hands behind your head , then step forward with your right foot and lower until your left knee almost touches the floor. Return to the start and repeat on the other side.
Squat jump: Lower into a squat, then jump off the ground as high as you can.  Land softly, and immediately lower into another squat and repeat.
Split jump: Lower into the lunge, then jump as high as you can and switch legs in the air Land softly, then lower into your next rep on the opposite side.

How you measure up:

Excellent: If you can complete 24 reps of each move with proper form without stopping
Good: If you can complete 10 or 15 reps of each move with proper form without stopping
Below Average: If you can only do less than 10 reps of each move with proper form without stopping


Image: iStock

If you want to find out how all those yoga classes have improved your flexibility, take the Thomas test. Lie on a bench with your knees at your chest. Hold one knee with both hands as you extend your other leg, relax your hip, and lower as far as possible while keeping the leg straight. Then, try it on the opposite side.

How you measure up

Excellent: If your extended leg drops below your hips
Good: If your extended leg is parallel to your hips
Below Average: If your extended leg is above parallel to your hips


Image: iStock

Balance is essential when preventing injuries during your workout. To test how good yours is, try the single leg balance and touch. Stand on your left leg with your knee slightly bent and bend down to touch your toes with your right hand. Make sure you keep your back flat as you raise your right leg behind you. Return to the starting position without putting your right foot down. Repeat as many times as possible in one minute, then try it on the other leg.

How you measure up:

Excellent: If you can touch 21 times or more
Good: If you can touch 10 to 20 times
Below Average: If you can touch fewer than 10 times

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