8 Fitness Assessment Tests

Fitness Assessment Tests

A fitness assessment is a great way to evaluate your current fitness level. It includes a series of measurements that help determine physical fitness and are a great way to gauge your current fitness level. Through a fitness assessment test, a trainer can identify your strengths and weaknesses in relation to your physical fitness and help you in setting attainable fitness goals. Fitness assessments are conducted by exercise professionals to determine one’s current state of fitness and then determine what will be the ideal workout program will be needed to achieve the desired fitness goals.

Some fitness assessments will give you an indication of potential health risks and may even make you aware of some health-related problems you might not be aware of. Below is a list of eight physical assessment tests trainers usually take to determine a person’s fitness and what they mean for one’s wellbeing, fitness, and health.

Resting Heart Rate

Arguably the first test I would do. Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute while it’s at rest. The best time to find out your resting heart rate is in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, and before you get out of bed but awake. People’s normal heart rate varies from one person to the next. Knowing yours can be an important heart health gauge. The average heart beats about 60 to 80 times a minute when at rest. Resting heart rate usually rises with age, and it’s generally lower in physically fit people [1]. So generally speaking, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness and therefore the higher your resting heart rate, the less physically fit you are.

To measure your heart rate from the neck and wrist, check your pulse. Preferably in the morning, this is because it will be faster when you exercise, have a fever, or are under stress. To take it from the neck, place your index and third fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe. To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery, it is located on the thumb side of your wrist. After you find the heartbeat, you need to count how many beats occur within 60 seconds. You can do this by counting the number of beats in 10 seconds, and then multiply that number by six. This method gives you a 60-second count or you can count for the whole 60 seconds. Of course, modern technology makes this process much easier.

Blood Pressure

Blood is carried from the heart to various parts of your body through vessels called arteries. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries [2]. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes [2]. The values are usually given in fractional values (for example, 120/80). Where the 1st number: systolic pressure is the pressure generated when the heart contracts. The 2nd number: diastolic pressure is the blood pressure when the heart is relaxed [1]. The values are also pronounced as fractions, so if your blood pressure is 120/80, you say that it is “120 over 80.”

Blood pressure changes during the day. It is lowest as you sleep and rises when you get up. It can arise when you are excited, nervous, or active. Ideally, we should all have a blood pressure below 120 over 80 (120/80) [3]. Values higher than 140/90 are what is commonly referred to as High Blood Pressure. High blood pressure increases your chances of a stroke, heart attack, and kidney problems are greater.

A sphygmomanometer is used to measure blood pressure. You do not need to worry yourself about how it works. During the test, a blood pressure cuff is wrapped around the upper arm of the subject and the rest is done by your medic.

Body Composition

Body Composition measures the ratio of lean body mass to fat mass with skinfold measurements. Body composition measurements are most accurate when taken first thing in the morning before consuming any food or drink. There are different ways used to measure body composition, in this instance we will explore skinfold measurements.

A Skinfold caliper is a device which measures the thickness of a fold of your skin with its underlying layer of fat [2]. Using this device we can measure excess fat from six different locations of your body. The Back of the arm (triceps), the Front of the arm (Biceps), your chest, on the Shoulderblade, the thighs and on your Waist (Suprailiac) [1].

Without getting into details about how the measurements are done. Basically, a skinfold caliper is a gently pinching device that measures how much excess body fat you have on the site of the measurements indicating how many millimeters thick that skinfold/pinch is. The idea is that the more body fat you have on your body, the thicker this skin fold will be.

Sit-up Test/min

The objective of this test is to monitor the development of the individual’s abdominal strength. We measure how many sit-ups you can do in 1 minute and compare those results against a table of ratings. The ratings are different for males and females. Your objective here is to do as many sit-ups as you can in one minute.

Push-up Test/min

Similar to the sit-up test/min. We measure how many push-ups you can do in 1 minute and compare those results against a table of ratings. The Push-Up Test measures muscular strength and endurance, a combination that better reflects your fitness level than strength tests like the one rep max [4]. Your objective again is for you to do as many push-ups as you can in one minute

Step Test

The Step Test estimates your aerobic fitness level by performing a 3-minute step test on a 12-inch step. The objective of this test is to monitor the development of the athlete’s cardiovascular system [1]. At the end of each cycle, your heart rate is measured. The lower your heart rate is after the test, the fitter you are.

Sit and ReachThe Sit and Reach test is the most common way to measure lower back and hamstring flexibility. You will be well warmed up by the time you do the sit and reach test. Place the ruler on the ground between your legs (0 ends lined up with your feet) or on the top of the step [1]. Place one hand on top of the other, then reach slowly forward. At the point of your greatest reach, hold for a couple of seconds, and we will measure how far you have reached.

You will have 2 practice reaches, then on the third hold your reach for 3 seconds. Sit-and-reach results compare your own flexibility over time as well as comparing your score to norms, or averages, for your gender and age. Adequate flexibility is being able to reach your toes while keeping your legs straight.

Height and Weight Measurements

Your height and weight are usually taken to determine your BMI (Body Mass Index). Although it has been shown that BMI is not the best measure of excess body fat, it is still an effective means to measure excess body weight, which is what it was initially meant to do. BMI measurements are also generally considered the best way to determine if an individual is at a healthy weight since they are quick and affordable. So even though taking your BMI might not ‘accurately’ tell you how much excess body fat you have. It is still worth knowing.

To calculate your BMI you divide your body weight in kilograms (kg) by your height squared in meters (m). The final value is in kg/m2.

Knowing your height and weight individually can also assist exercise scientists to design a suitable fitness exercise program for the individual.

Most of these assessments are done and compared to a chart of norms that will classify how physically fit you are currently. The tests also give us a roadmap of your fitness, how far you’ve come, how much work you have to do as well as how far you still have to go. This records can make treatment prescription easy and overall give you an idea of how healthy you really are.


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1. UMass Campus Recreation & Sports Clubs. PERSONAL TRAINING FITNESS ASSESSMENT. UMass Campus Recreation & Sports Clubs. [Online] 2015. www.umass.edu/campusrec.

2. Wood, Robert. Categories of Fitness Testing. Topend Sports Network. [Online] 2015.

3. How Fit Are You? Glassman, Greg. 2003, CrossFit Journal Article, pp. 1-4.4. Justin, Durandt. Fitness testing and the physical profiling of players. s.l. : BoksSmart, 2009.

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Thando W. Dlamini, BA

Sport Development and Exercise Science Practitioner

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