Testing your progress
How do you test yourself and measure your progress?
The only way to know (for sure) that what you’re doing is working, is to monitor your progress.
But how do you do that?
Test week for me isn't about how much I can squat.
Maximum lifts aren't my goal.
I want to be stronger AND fitter.
I want to move more efficiently.
I want to be able to DO more, not just lift more.
My test weeks include:
- A 4km run (2km up hill, 2km back down) to test my fitness
- A full body, timed workout to see how efficiently I can move my body (the more efficient I become at each of the exercises, the quicker the time)
- A long (about 80mins non-stop), strength-endurance workout consisting of 8x1km runs with a strength exercise between each. Again, the aim is to improve my time.
- A brutal test of grunt work where I just move a lot of weight as far as possible in a set time limit. Aiming to go further each time.
These tests work for me, because they test what I want to improve. They may be completely irrelevant for someone else.
Make your tests RELEVANT.
If fat loss is your goal, then progress pictures and body measurements are how you measure progress, not maximum lifts.
If strength is your goal - what sort of strength do you want? And why?
Maybe Squat, Bench, Deadlift are your goals - in which case, test away!
If your goal is, like me, to MOVE with strength, there are better ways to train and test for this.
For some, test week might literally mean trying on those tight jeans to see how they fit.
For you, it might be your performance in the ring or on the mats, or on the pitch.
Generalised strength and fitness metrics also don't mean much if your sports performance doesn't improve with them.
If you're a fighter or a rugby player, your strength means nothing if you can't APPLY that strength to what you do.
Don't use strength tests as the basis for progress if strength isn't your goal.
RESULTS are what you're after.
You may not even need to "test" per se, just log your training and ensure you're always making progress.
If you want to test and measure your workout performance AS WELL as progress towards your specific goal, that's great. I always encourage logging your workouts and tracking progress in them, but don't forget to measure what you're training for in the first place.
It may be more subjective, like how you feel day to day, mood and energy levels. If that's what you want from your training, find a way to monitor that. Knowing how much you can squat just isn't relevant in that scenario.
- Set your goals.
- Find a way to measure your success and monitor your progress TOWARDS THOSE GOALS as you go.
- Retest your chosen metrics regularly to see if your training is moving you towards your goals or not. If it is, keep going and gradually build on the training. If it’s not, you need to figure out why and change the training if necessary.
All of my clients log their training so we know 100% that they’re progressing in each exercise (so we know for sure that they're progressing in their training).
On top of that, we track other metrics relevant to their goals such as weight, body measurements, fitness tests, strength tests, mood and energy levels, medication use… whatever is relevant for that individual. If it’s not relevant, we don’t need to track it - that time would be better spent working towards their actual goals.
Have a review of your goals and what you want to get out of your training, and think about how you’d measure that progress, then… Measure it!
Track it, and see if what you’re doing is working.
Let me know if you need some help.