The dictionary definition of asses is: decide the amount of value of. As with anything in life, without knowing somethings specific value, comparisons cannot be made against it.

Likewise, progressions cannot be accurately confirmed. The only way to discover these is regular assessment. These assessments have two specific purposes.

  1. To inform a fitness trainer on your level of fitness and therefore enable him/her to prescribe the correct intensity, frequency, and duration of the exercise.
  2. To use as a record so comparisons can be made which will show improvements – a great incentive. Further training programs can then be administered to help achieve pre-determined goals.

As a fitness trainer, I want to know the level of your fitness, regardless of how low you think it is. To do this, you must undergo a fitness assessment. I can then decide how to arrange your training program in such a way to help you on the road to achieving your pre-determined goals.

I would strongly advise anyone to undergo an assessment. Many clubs offer it as part of your membership; if they don’t, it is well worth investing a few dollars in one.

Further fitness assessments should follow every 3-4 months to monitor progress. This will then build up a record that can be compared to as the months/years go by.

The fitness assessment usually covers six areas; your level of fitness, body composition, lung efficiency, blood pressure, and resting heart rate, flexibility, and grip strength. It takes less than 30 minutes and is entirely painless.

Level of Aerobic Fitness

The amount of oxygen that can be taken in, transported, and utilized by your body will determine how aerobically fit you are. By monitoring your heart rate during exercise, calculations can be made to work out how much oxygen has been used in relation to energy expended.

The test can be conducted using most aerobic activities, but more commonly, a cycle or step test. You could, however, find protocols for miles run or even rowing machines.

The cycle test usually is six minutes long, a maximal test heart rate is pre-determined, and resistance is steadily increased until that level of exertion is reached.

After six minutes, the final load and heart rate are considered, and a value of how much oxygen has been used is calculated.

There are various step tests available such as Fitech and YMCA, all with their protocols and varying in time, step height, and cadence.

Regardless of these difficulties, the results are attained by monitoring the heart rate after the test to establish a recovery rate. ( the ability of the heart to return back to its resting rate)

Body Composition

How much of your body weight is fat, and how much of it is lean tissue? There is a bracket in which your body should be, depending on age. Measuring your weight will not tell you how much fat you are carrying.

Yout lean body weight is something that does not necessarily require changing, except for extreme cases, your fat percentage can be changed. The test is typically conducted using calipers, taking measurements from different sites around the body.

It could be considered slightly intrusive, even embarrassing, but it is an essential part of any assessment, the results from which ensure realistic short term goals that will be achieved by training at the correct intensity.

Lung Efficiency

By assessing how much air you can hold in your lungs (Forced Vital Capacity or FVC) and how much you can exhale in 1 second (Forced Expiratory Volume or FEV), your lung efficiency can be expressed as a percentage. The trainer will ask you to blow into a micro-spirometer; this machine measures your lung strength (FEV) and then your lung size (FVC).

The ability to exhale quickly is associated with strong respiratory muscles and shows there is minimal obstruction within the airways. By testing this Peak Flow Rate, the ability of the lungs to function healthily at rest or during exercise can be established.

Using the peak flow meter. The trainer will then ask you to take a deep breath and exhale with maximum effort as if blowing through a peashooter.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure readings can assist in determining the condition of your heart and circulatory system. If the reading is high, then there are factors of your health that may need addressing medically. A fitness trainer will take your blood pressure and resting heart rate to ensure you are in a safe condition to exercise.

Most doctors will advise people to exercise, but if you are in any doubt, don’t hesitate to contact one.


Although the sit and reach test only measures the flexibility of the lower spine and the suppleness of the muscles, which are responsible for supporting the lower back and pelvis, it is the best single indicator of overall flexibility.

Flexibility is required for agility and suppleness of movement. You should sit straight-legged and gently push forward, arms extended forward, and fingers pointed – the further you reach forward, the better your flexibility.

Static Group Strength

Regardless of an individual’s ability to perform well in a specific strength discipline, personal strength can be ascertained by testing their grip.

By testing grip strength, using a hand dynamometer, a value of your strength can be estimated. By adjusting the dynamometer so that a comfortable grip can be made, the sections of the gripping mechanism should be squeezed together as hard as possible. The reading is taken, and the test repeated, on the other hand.


References & Acknowledgments

Excerpts taken from the excellent article ‘Assessing Fitness Assessments’, Author – Paul Hornsby – Fit Body Magazine UK.