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These are meant to be easy, accessible exercises intended to give you a general indication of where your level of strength is currently at.
These exercises all speak volumes about you and your relationship with your bodyweight; just because you look (un)fit, doesn’t necessarily mean you are, and a good gauge is to see how well you can handle your own weight. Give them a try and either validate your own thoughts, or surprise yourself with what you discover.
This begins the list because it is the easiest of the five exercises and, as much as it is a good indicator, it is the most basic (there are better and more beneficial core exercises out there). This test is known as the Plank Test, or Prone Bridge Test.
What To Do
Get into the plank position and tense/clench your muscles from your core to your glutes. Aim to hold this position for as long as you can (holding it for 90 seconds is the pass mark). Throughout the plank, don’t hold in your breath but breathe while maintaining the tension throughout your muscles. You fail when your hips sink or you break the stance.
The push-up is perhaps the most versatile bodyweight exercise as it allows for a dramatic amount of variations, but in this instance, we’re interested in the standard push-up.
When testing yourself, what needs to be kept to mind is that your age affects how many reps is considered “good” or “poor”, and that there are multiple push-up tests that give different scores, because there isn’t a definitive test that gives you all the answers that you need.
What To Do
Get into a push-up position that is comfortable for you and pump out as many as you can. Once you tire out, keep in mind the number you reached and see the table below for the corresponding result for your age. There is no time limit or required tempo to this test.
3. Dead Hang
A lot of people use the pull-up as the standard measure, but I don’t like to because a person may struggle with pull-ups for a variety of reasons, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they lack basic strength. Whereas, simply hanging from an overhead bar tells a lot about your grip strength, and how well you can handle your own bodyweight at the same time.
What To Do
Hang from a bar (or rings if you have access to those) with an overhand grip (palms facing the same direction as you). Have your hands placed shoulder-width apart and see how long you can hold on for. Aim for 60 seconds, but don’t make the activity a passive engagement; tense your core and hands throughout (as if you’re about to lift yourself into a pull-up).
If hanging from a bar is too easy basic for you, then ramp things up by hanging on with one hand and aim for 60 seconds per side. Good luck.
4. Wall Squat
This test assesses lower body muscular endurance. Like the other timed exercises, strength and endurance are determined by how long you can hold a position.
What To Do
Stand against a wall with your feet together and roughly two feet from the wall. Slide down until you’re “sitting” at a 90-degree angle with your arms passive by your sides.
In this position, lift and straighten one leg out and hold the position for as long as you can. When you tire out, take a minute rest then repeat for the other leg.
Calculate your time by combining the total time for each leg, and compare below.
We’ll be implementing the Cooper test and it allows you to track your level of fitness over time, compare yourself with others of a similar age and gender, and calculate your VO2 max, which can be used to quantify your endurance level and provide other readings (but knowing this isn’t necessary for our simple test).
What To Do
You’ll run/jog/walk as far as you can for 12 minutes. The test ends when the timer finishes and you take note of what distance you managed to cover and compare it to the table below. Simple.
Normally, this test is carried out on a track field because it has a set distance (400 meters / ¼ mile), and you can use cones as markers along the track to help with measurements at the end, but in today’s world of technology, there are different ways to measure the distance you covered with smartwatches and phone apps.
However, if you have access to none of these then at the very least try to have cones or some kind of markers you can use, alongside a measuring tape to mark out 100 meters (0.06 miles). Then just run back and forth between the two markers while keeping note of each 100 meters you cover.