3 DIY strength tests
When you make the decision to increase your strength, it pays to have a few basic measures that you can use as benchmarks and to track your progress. Not only will it help you identify the areas you want to focus and improve on, keeping a record of your progress can be a great way to stay motivated. Use the following fitness tests to help you do it. Take them every six weeks.
The static hold test
This tests your core strength, which is important for improving your posture and supporting your back. Lie face down with your forearms and either your knees (easier) or your toes (harder) on the floor. Start timing as you lift your chest and tummy off the ground, while lowering your bottom to keep your back flat. As you breathe out, imagine you’re trying to bring your belly button up towards your spine. Hold your abdominal muscles in this position and keep breathing. Once you drop, stop timing.
To improve: Try pilates classes or other core-specific exercises like the plank or fit ball two to four times a week over the next six weeks.
The ‘can you do?’ test
This tests your muscular strength, which is important for everyday tasks, like pushing and pulling, or lifting groceries or the kids. Record how many of the following you can do: chin-ups, full sit-ups, full push-ups, one-arm push-ups, full squats, and squat balances (a squat on one leg). At first, you may record a lot of ‘nos’ but remember that every ‘yes’ is a positive result.
To improve: To increase the number of times you record a ‘yes’, practise these exercises and/or try lifting weights, such as barbells and dumbbells, two to four times a week.
The body resistance test
This tests your muscular endurance, which is your ability to repeat sub-maximal actions for a more extended period. Record how many repetitions of the following activities you can do, allowing yourself 60 seconds per exercise: push-ups or half push-ups to test your upper body; sit-ups or half sit-ups for your mid-body; and squats or half squats for your lower body.
To improve: Start with the easier options first and try performing as many of these as you can without stopping. Record the number of repetitions you achieve, so it’s easy to track your progress. Once you feel like you could easily keep going, doing the easier versions of each exercise, for longer than 60 seconds, progress to the more challenging version. You should have improved significantly, when you repeat the test in six weeks.