The 5-Minute Test That Will Help You Figure Out How Fit You Really Are
By Wanita Nicol; photography by Unsplash
These 4 quick do-anywhere moves will tell you exactly how fit you are in 5 minutes – no fancy equipment needed. Ready to see how you fare?
If you want to get better at something, you need a benchmark to measure your progress. That’s why you stand on the scale when you start a diet – and spend the next few weeks trying not to make eye contact with said scale. Wink.
Fitness is no different. A comprehensive test will measure the different factors that make up your overall fitness – namely strength, balance, flexibility and cardiovascular ability, including how efficiently your body uses oxygen.
You can do them at home – all you need is basic equipment you probably already have lying around the house. Do all four tests before starting a new fitness programme and make a note of your results. After 12 weeks, take the tests again to see how you’ve improved.
*Note: These tests are intended to give you a basic indication of your personal fitness progress over time. For a comprehensive test that will measure your fitness against scientific averages for your age group, speak to a biokineticist at your gym or find one at Discovery.co.za.
You’ll need: Box/step, ruler, timer, metronome/music player.
Fit test 1. Modified push-up
Measures: upper-body strength
Lie flat on your tummy, bend your knees and position your hands directly under your shoulders. Push yourself up so your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees and your arms are fully extended. Lower until your chest is just off the ground. That’s one rep. See how many you can do in a minute.
Fit test 2. Step test
Measures: cardiovascular fitness
Sitting quietly, take your resting heart rate – number of beats in a minute. Now stand behind a box about 30cm high. Set a metronome for 96BPM – or play Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”. Step on and off the box (up, up; down, down) in time to the beat. Continue for three minutes. As soon as the time is up, sit down and take your pulse again for a full minute. Measure how long it takes to return to normal.
Fit test 3. Blind standing stork test
Stand with feet together (no shoes), spine tall and hands on your hips. Rest the sole of one foot against the inner kneecap of your opposite leg and raise the heel of your standing foot. Close your eyes and start your timer. Stop the timer as soon as your hands come off your hips, your foot leaves your kneecap or your other foot drops. Do best of three on each foot.
Fit test 4. Sit-and-reach test
With bare feet, and wearing comfortable, stretchy clothes, sit upright on the ground with the soles of your feet pressed flat against a box or step and your legs straight. The box should have a ruler taped to it in such a way that 20cm of the ruler sticks out beyond the edge of the box towards you. Hinge forward from your hips with arms outstretched at shoulder height, palms down and hands on top of each other or side-by-side. Measure how many centimetres you were able to stretch – do best of three.
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