Every 13 weeks, we run a testing week at Sean Armstrong Fitness. This is an opportunity for us to measure our members progress over a period of time, and to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs.
We don’t believe in training becoming a daily ‘test’. Doing so could scupper your progress, and we don’t believe in needing to always track our members’ workouts on a day-to-day basis.
They are real people, with real lives and real-life stress.
We know that our members aren’t going to be the same one day from the next from a physiological, emotional and mental standpoint. So, setting standards for them based on what they’ve done the week before when they could have been feeling great or crap is a recipe for disaster.
If they come in one day, full of beans and smash a session and Squat 80kg for 6 reps and the following week, we expect them to do more when they are flat and running on empty, it’s just going to lead to someone getting hurt.
This is why we don’t place too much emphasis on tracking our members’ sessions, and would rather use a testing week to get a better representation of how they are progressing.
Plus it means we get to train the member on the day rather than on what they’ve done previously, and that’s what coaching is all about.
Why Test Then?
It gives our members and you an opportunity to establish a baseline, which in turn can give them something to strive towards.
A huge part of this is setting standards to help with setting goals, all to increase motivation and give training a purpose rather than chasing weight loss, which is often not an ideal goal for long-term exercise consistency.
Why do we think that? Well, exercise is predominately done as a means to an end to achieve a goal that is based on a negative perception of ourselves and not neccessarily done to gain something that enhances our life. Instead, it moves us to something more positive and celebrates what our bodies can do.
“I’m fat, I need to lose weight.”
Often, exercise comes to us as a response of not liking ourselves, when the reality is that exercising should come from a place of self-love and celebration of what exercise can do for us.
Exercise can give us strength, both physically and mentally and can show us that anything is possible with the right approach and effort.
It teaches us both consistency and resiliency, and testing highlights the results of our efforts.
Another benefit that we’ve seen in our gym is the support and encouragement from member to member, which strengthens friendships and our community over a shared measure of achievement.
What Should The Standards Be?
Well, it depends on what your goals are.
For us, as we train regular people who want to move, look and feel better. They have quite general fitness goals, which means we need to have an all-encompassing view of all things fitness.
To measure absolute strength, we’re testing both the Squat and Deadlift.
To measure relative strength, we’re testing both the Push-Up and Chin-Up.
To measure anaerobic fitness, we’re using the 60-second Ski-Erg test.
To measure aerobic fitness, we’re using the 5-minute AirDyne test.
For us, this means we get to assess the body as a whole and we can use it to see where we are succeeding with our programming, and where we can improve.
For you, you might look at testing differently to support your goals.
If you’re a powerlifter, you’d not be too focused on your push-up, chin-up, Ski-Erg and AirDyne performance but instead would choose to assess your performance on the Bench Press.
If you’re a marathon runner, you’d like completely rehash the tests and look at your performance over specific distances and your muscular endurance with a select few lower-body exercises.
The tests have got to fit your goals and what is important to you.
It puts your progress into focus, giving you a measure for success and hopefully, it continues to motivate you to keep training and to strive for improvement.
Seeing that you’re improving is always a fantastic motivator, so utilise it periodically.
So Why Is Testing So Important?
It gives you feedback to see what you’re doing, so you can adjust things to get the necessary outcome.
If testing highlights that you’ve gotten better at something, then keep doing it. If testing highlights an area where you haven’t improved, it gives an opportunity to see why this might be and also look for ways to improve it.
If your program has a lot of squatting programmed but not much cardio, you would expect to see your squat numbers skyrocket, while your cardio numbers stagnate.
Looking at what worked and what didn’t, you can adjust your training to dial down the squats and ramp-up the cardio, if it’s important for you to do so of course.
Testing is a way to evaluate and learn. Test regularly and you’ll recognise issues before they become a problem, tweaking and shifting your approach to best serve your training and progress.
If you have any questions on the above or would like some advice on how we could help with your training and how you can utilise a testing week, don’t hesitate, visit our gym in North Shields. CALL US or EMAIL US we would love to hear from you.
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