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How to Test your Overall Strength and Fitness Levels

Updated on March 8, 2017

What is your total body fitness level?

Are you really in Good Shape?

Have you ever notice how some people do not necessarily look strong or look like they even work out for that matter but they are noticeably a lot stronger and in better physical health/condition than you are? Everyone's body is different. Your genetics, muscle tissue, your over all health and lifestyle are all determining factors of what your fitness level is. You can be very strong in terms of strength, but not be fit overall. A race car with over 400 horse power, but has a flat tire would be a comparable analogy. Your overall fitness is the measuring of your strength, flexibility, agility, cardiovascular capacity and your body composition (muscle to fat ratio). All of the prospective professional NFL football players are required to enter a combine and their physical skill set is determined by a multitude of tests such as a 40 yard sprint, vertical and long jump, various agility and lateral movement drills (dependent upon the position the play) and a 225 lb bench press strength test. Their strength level is determined by the number of repetitions they are able to perform with 225 lbs in one set. How can you tell if your dieting and work out program are paying off and your physically fit overall? There are several ways you can do this.

The Plank is an Example of a Static Test

Brian McNally doing the NFL combine Bench Press Test

Assessing your Strength

If you have ever had a Personal trainer or strength coach, the first thing that they are going to do is get an assessment of your strength. Strength testing has become a lot refined and now can be performed in laboratories or scientifically. Of course we are not all professional athletes, we are just regular people and do not have access to something as high tech and advanced as an NFL combine testing facilities. There are to basic types of strength tests, which are static and dynamic. A static test, also called an isometric test, is when a muscle exerts tension against a non moving, fixed resistance. A good example of this would be getting in a squat, with your back against the wall and thighs parallel with the floor and hold this position for 30 seconds. A dynamic or isotonic strength test is when one or more body parts moves against a resistance. A popular way of measuring isotonic strength is performing your one rep max of a particular exercise. So how do you measure your fitness overall? We have to use more conventional methods. There are several indicators that will give you a general idea whether or not you are in pretty good shape. In terms of being "strength fit", many experts use the amount you are capable of bench pressing and squat, versus your weight as a barometer. Being able to lift 1.5x your own body weight is an indication that your are pretty fit in terms of strength. For example, a 200 lb man would need to be able to bench press and squat at least 300 lbs. There are fitness evaluations that will measure your ability aerobically, cardiovascular capacity, joint flexibility, as well strength and endurance. There are also tools that measure your body fat percentages to determine your body composition, which is your muscle to fat ratio.

The Squat is an Example of Isotonic Strength

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Physique chart explanations of body mass

Cardiovascular Fitness

When you see a very fit looking man/woman, with a high level of muscularity, there is an automatic, common misconception that they are fit overall. That is definitely not the case. You can be extremely muscular and strong in terms of strength and still not be cardiovascular fit. Testing for your cardiovascular fitness is relatively easy and there is no need for high-tech equipment or procedures that are required. You should be able to run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes time or if you enjoy swimming, that would be comparable to being able to swim 700 yards in 12 minutes. Both of these feats would indicate peak aerobic capacity with your heart rate close to the maximum. Your vertical leap or jump should be decent as well. If your only 5'3 inches tall, you're probably not going to be able to grab a basketball rim or slam dunk for that matter, but your leaping ability should be proportionate to your height. It indicates power and flexibility. Of course there are always variable factors to these tests such as your age and physical activity that will help decide what your goal numbers are. If you are just beginning an exercise program, it's highly unlikely that you will run a mile and a half in 10 minutes, much less swim 700 yards in 12 minutes, so don't go all out and try to kill yourself to hit these type of numbers. You have to crawl before you can walk, don't try to turn into Superman/Superwoman your first week of exercising. Anything that you do, you should write down so you can see the gradual improvements in your fitness abilities.

5 Levels of Fitness

Endurance training

Strength and Endurance

If you have ever served in the military/armed forces, then you are well aware of how the Army (if that is the branched you served/serving) tests your strength, endurance and fitness level. They will record the number of push ups, sit ups, and pull ups you can perform in 2 minutes and how fast you can run 2 miles. Like I stated previously, there are variable factors which makes different goals numbers for different people. Work out and do what you can do, don't worry about what numbers everyone else is doing. When I was in the army, on my PT (physical training) test I completed 139 push ups, 127 sit ups, and 38 pull ups and ran 2 miles well under 10 minutes. Of course that was over 20 years ago, I'm not sure if I could still accomplish those numbers now, however I am still in excellent fitness condition and can still complete over 100 push ups at one time. A fitness professional, personal trainer or physician can test you and see how fit you really are over all. Once you are aware of your fitness level, you can modify your work out program to fit your needs,to work on those lagging areas or simply just to improve yourself and over all health in general.

Definity Push up bars


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    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 5 years ago from Texas

      Thanks , I use to really be into the numbers myself, but as I've gotten older, I just try to maintain & stay active as well

    • prospectboy profile image

      Bradrick H. 5 years ago from Texas

      Useful hub here. I consider myself pretty fit, but nowhere near an elite level. It normally takes me around 14 minutes to run a mile and a half, and I definitely can't bench 400lbs. I try not to pay much attention to the numbers, I just try to be as active as I can at my age. Anyway, I enjoyed reading this. Voted up, useful, and shared. Good job sir!