Starting a fitness program without testing your fitness level is like beginning a journey without knowing exactly where you and having no map to guide you to your destination. Fitness testing establishes your starting point. Plotting out check points along your fitness pathway can direct you toward achieving both short-term and long-term goals.
Seven reasons for fitness testing before and during your exercise program are to:
1. Establish your baseline. When you know initial fitness status, you know how far you have to go to reach your goals. Testing helps you set specific, achievable yet challenging goals with realistic target dates.
2. Compare yourself to others. Many tests are standardized. They provide norms, so you know where you stand in relationship to the “average” person’s score.
3. Individualize your program. Knowing your fitness level springs you out of the one-size-fits-all exercise mold and jumpstarts your personalized, streamlined training path.
4. Know how hard to work. You can estimate your optimum training range using maximum or predicted maximum fitness scores. For most phases of training, exercise intensity is typically performed within a target zone of 60-85% of your maximum cardio or strength level.
5. Evaluate your progress. When you measure your progress regularly, you can see how far you have advanced from your baseline fitness level. Each milestone that you achieve is a great confidence booster that propels you on toward your goals.