How to evaluate your fitness levels at home

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

How can you tell if your hours in the gym are making a difference?  Do you track your race finishing times in a spreadsheet? Do you keep a record of your weight sessions to monitor your progress?  It may be easy for you to keep track of your physical fitness progress without lots of fancy equipment or even a personal trainer.

In the USA, every year in physical education class we had to take part in the Presidential physical fitness test.  We would have to run a mile, do pull ups and sit ups, run shuttles, and sit and reach (for flexibility). Each year, we could see how we did compared to the last year or against our classmates.  Unfortunately, I was never very good at the tests and even failed it in 3rd grade  (I wish I could go back and re-take them now!).

Even though we aren’t still in school, there are ways you can keep track of your fitness too.  If you do circuit training, you might already keep track of your weights and reps with each workout.   Similarly, with a simple notebook, here are examples of other fitness tests you can do at home:

Take inspiration from the Presidential fitness test and every few months measure how many press ups and proper sit ups (not crunches) you can do in one minute.  Time yourself when you run a mile outside or on the treadmill.  Ok take it a step farther and work on how long you can hold a plank or wall sit.

You can also regularly check your percent body fat and Body Mass Index (BMI) (this is not part of the Presidential fitness test).  As BMI isn’t the best measure (it simply creates a relationship between your weight and height, without taking into account your body shape or muscle mass), I recommend investing in a sewing tape measure.  Body circumference measurements of your biceps, waist, hips, and thighs can be more telling if you are losing body fat or gaining muscle.  Of course, calipers are the best methodology (in terms of accuracy)  for assessing body fat and this can be done by a certified personal trainer.

Monitor your explosive power by practicing a long or a vertical jump.  Go for speed and endurance by counting how many times you can skip rope without missing a step.  Too easy? Go for burpees in a set amount of time. Still too easy? Add in box jumps at the top and press ups at the bottom, like these guys.

Open up Excel and create your own fitness test log. On the first of each month, set aside 15 min to see how fast you can run a 5K, how many press ups you can do in a set time frame, and how  your waist circumference measures up.  Make it a mini-competition with friends and create a small trophy to win which will keep it interesting.  Use this info to adapt your training regime to maximise your potential. If you need any tips, feel free to send me an email (

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