When it comes to evaluating your progress in regards to physical fitness or weight loss goals, there are many expensive and time consuming ways to measure your endurance and strength at the gym or doctor's office. But why not easily measure your progress at home on your own terms, for free? People exercise for a variety of reasons and whether or not your goal is more muscle mass or less body fat, these simple tests can help you figure out how close you are to your fitness goal. Checking regularly is a great way to continue to measure your improvement and progress.
By now, many people are aware that a full sit-up can strain your back and doesn't isolate your abdominal muscles nearly as effectively as a partial curl-up, or crunch. Using a stopwatch or a kitchen timer set for a full minute, do as many crunches as you can after starting the timer. For the best form, follow these guidelines as set by the American College of Sports Medicine: you'll want to lay on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your arms flat at your sides and palms down. Keeping them on the floor for the duration of the test, your goal is to engage your abs, which should lift your head, neck, and shoulder blades off the floor without overly straining them. While you do this, allow your fingers to slide six inches forward, then return to the starting point. Do as many as you can in a minute. The average "good" fitness rating for men and women between 35 and 45 years of age respectively is 40 and 25 crunches.
For this exercise you'll want a stopwatch or timer, a metronome (a free online version is available online), and a bench, box, or step that measures 12 inches. Set your timer for three minutes and step on and off the bench, alternating feet, at a steady pace for the entire three minutes. The metronome should be set for 96 beats per minute. Immediately after the three minutes are up, sit down and count your pulse on either your wrist or neck for an entire minute. This test measures how quickly it takes your heart to recover after cardiovascular activity. For men between the ages of 35 and 55, pulse should be 100 to 111 or less for average to excellent fitness. For women, it should be 107 to 118 or less.
Another simple way to do this is to walk a mile at a brisk pace while timing yourself. Do not do this on a treadmill. A preferred way is on an inside, flat course.
Flexibility is often under-rated, however your ability to move freely is essential and can prevent injuries from occurring. To measure your leg flexibility, sit on your behind with your legs straight out, and place a ruler at the end of your feet, pointing away from your body. Without locking your knees, reach forward and see how far your fingers extend past your toes.