Are your fitness tests accurate? Fitness tests are performed in many settings, such as athletic training, wellness programs, and personal training to help establish fitness baselines and to track improvement. But are your fitness tests accurate with results that are stable and consistent over time? This is called reliability. Without reliability, your tests may not be establishing a correct baseline or showing true client progress. Following are four ways to make sure you keep your fitness tests accurate.
The first potential mistake involves the equipment. For instance if you are doing a VO2 treadmill test and the treadmill says it is at 5 mph but is really doing 6 mph, your fitness test result will be skewed. The simple answer is to make sure all equipment is calibrated on a regular basis.
Another issue is test and re-test consistency. While it seems obvious that consistent results require the fitness test to be properly performed, improper testing is common. It is crucial to properly instruct the client how to do the test and for the tester to make sure the client does the test as instructed. To make sure fitness tests are consistently done correctly, have the client practice and demonstrate the test. If they do not follow the instructions, review the instructions and have them perform again until done properly. For example if you are doing a hamstring flexibility test and the fitness test requires the legs to be straight, make sure the client’s legs remain straight.
The third aspect to keep your fitness tests accurate is to follow a test protocol exactly as indicated. This seems obvious too, but is often found to happen. It also makes sure that a fitness test done by one examiner will have the same results as another examiner. If a step test protocol uses a 12 inch step, it is imperative to use a 12 inch step and not an 8 inch step. Other aspects of protocols may include specific type warm ups, number and locations of skin fold readings, cadence of repetitions and so on. Fitness test calculations and normative values are all based on making sure all these variables remain the same. Using a fitness software program can help make sure testing protocols are in place.
The final key to keep in mind is the client condition and environment. Suppose on the first test session the client was well rested, well hydrated, under no stress and on the follow-up test the client was fatigued, recovering from the flu and experienced a recent death in the family. These things can affect the test result even if the test is done properly. Make sure your client understands the importance of arriving for testing rested and in a good state of mind. Environment is also a factor. Is the room cold or hot, dry or humid? Changes in these things from one test date to another can affect results. Keep your fitness center environment stable and comfortable.
Keeping your fitness tests accurate is not hard once you understand the factors that can affect them. Keep your equipment in good and reliable condition. Provide instruction and let your client practice. Follow testing protocols to the letter. Have your client show up for the tests healthy and rested. Keep your facility environment comfortable. Consider using fitness assessment software to help perform and track test results accurately. Keeping fitness tests accurate and consistent can be achieved by following the above guidelines.