An introduction to fitness testing

What is fitness testing?

Fitness testing is the process of screening a potential or existing client to help you gauge their current levels of different aspects of health, physique and fitness.

Fitness testing alongside a detailed consultation and on boarding procedure for new clients will maximise the amount of information we can gather to build a comprehensive profile about your client’s current status.

The reason we test our clients is so that we can build up a detailed client profile, this then provides us with a baseline measurement to track their progress.

In my opinion, tracking a client’s progress is the number one factor that will keep adherence sky high as long as they keep seeing results. Without fitness testing in one form or another we cannot track these results and we are working from a basis of assumption.

When choosing tests for your clients you need to make sure they are relevant to their primary goal. It is of no use to test your clients 1 rep max bench press if they are looking to improve their 4000m run time!

We also need to consider the clients training history, equipment available, confidence level and the amount of time we have available to perform the tests. All of the aforementioned factors will dictate which tests we choose.

Using the appropriate tests, we can test for hundreds of different attributes for our clients, the list is too large to put in this article but could include;

  • Body composition (subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, bone density, muscle mass etc)
  • Muscular strength
  • Muscular endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Speed
  • Power
  • Balance
  • Agility
  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Anaerobic power
  • Blood profiles
  • Genetic potential
  • Dietary allergies/intolerances
  • Range of motion around particular joints

Obviously if you have the time, resources and inclination you could put your client through a barrage of tests similar to the Olympic games, but is it really necessary? 

In my opinion, you should only use enough tests to gather information relating to your client’s primary goal, any more than that could be considered overkill.

As an example, for any of my fat loss clients I would usually perform the following tests depending on the individual;

  • Caliper skinfold test (to assess body fat percentage)
  • Muscle circumferences (to assess site-specific growth or body fat loss)
  • Resting heart rate (to give a rough estimate of the client’s cardiorespiratory health)
  • Blood pressure (also to give a rough estimate of the client’s cardiovascular health)

These tests will be performed at the same time and day each week to minimise errors and maximise the validity of the tests. You will also need to consider the clients nutrition, sleep habits, stress levels and clothing depending on the tests you choose.

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