Dude what’s your bench?
What’s your mile time?
How much can you bench?
How many pull-ups can you do?
These are common tests you hear when it comes to gauging fitness levels. While benching, running, and doing pull-ups are very specific benchmarks, testing can show you how close you are to your goals.
Regardless of your fitness goals, I recommend testing yourself regularly to find out if what you’re making progress. Tests don’t need to be a crazy insane challenge, but rather something that gently nudges you to be better.
You should test:
Testing gauges progress
Are you making progress? Or are you just maintaining where you are?
Testing gives you objective data that tells you you’re improving. If you’re like me where you like seeing numbers, testing helps a TON.
Testing shows your limits
When training, we usually want to work at a 7 out of 10 intensity. It’s hard to know what a 7/10 is if you don’t know what a 10/10 feels like. If I told you to leave 2 reps left in the tank, you won’t fully understand unless you test what 0 reps left in the tank feels like. Testing to find your 10/10 makes it easier to know the feeling of everything less than a 10.
It’s fun AF
Testing regularly is FUN! (and nerve-wracking) It gives you something to look forward to and push towards. Challenges that push you toward your goal help build motivation. It feels amazing to make progress!
Test what matters most
Test movements that match your goals to save time.
Looking to build some glute strength? Test your 5 rep max hip thrust, and train to improve it.
Shoulder pain? Testing the strength between both shoulders and range of motion between sides is a great place to start.
Want to improve your conditioning? Test something that involves a similar time scheme and intensity level.
There’s numerous fitness qualities you could work on, like strength, speed, flexibility, agility, stability, and more. You can’t focus on everything every session.
By testing what matters most, you’ll save time from improving things that aren’t a priority right now.
Testing should be tough. It’s the one place to find your limits. With that said, it’s better to avoid getting injured finding those limits. Here are some tips that can help you test safer.
Higher rep maxes
Unless you’re competing in a strength sport where your heaviest lift determines your rank, I recommend testing at a 5 rep max and above. How much you can lift for 5 still reflects your strength level without needing to go to the higher weights of a 1 rep max. It also doesn’t take as long to setup.
While I believe there aren’t necessarily bad movements, (only ones we aren’t ready for) there are some movements that have less risk when it comes to testing a max.
Using higher rep maxes already prevent you from going to absolute failure, but some movements can be risky when reaching close to failure because of the nature of weight coming down onto you.
Back squats and benching are movements where you can’t simply drop the weight as easily. To account for this, for back squats + bench presses, I recommend a spotter. For benching solo, don’t place clips on the sides if you don’t have a spotter. This allows you to tilt the bar and slide the weight off if needed.
Tests to try
Here are some general tests to try:
Leg Strength Tests:
- Back Squats for a 5 rep max
- Dumbbell Reverse Lunges for a 10 rep max
Upper-body Strength Tests:
- Pushups + Pull-ups for max reps
- Dumbbell Bench Press for a 5 rep max
- 10 Min Assault Bike (for calories)
- 10 Min Run (for distance)
Tests are a great opportunity to challenge yourself. They give you benchmarks to work toward and show you if you’re truly making progress. With that said, I’m curious to know, do you test yourself regularly?
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