Hi guys,  Kris from Custom Fitness here your personal trainer in Amarillo.  After being in this industry for almost two decades, I’ve heard many different approaches to training. One controversial aspect seems to be assessments or testing. Should we or shouldn’t we? And which ones are best?  Before we get into that, if you have any questions about anything you see here or are interested in receiving your own assessment, please give us a call at 806-322-3188.

The controversy between assessments and testing doesn’t come from research or from clients thrilled to see progress. The debate actually stems from trainers themselves. Whether or not to assess clients and how exactly to go about it varies from one professional to the next.

Some trainers perform a whole battery of tests at a few specific points of the training seasons, others focus on a few very specific tests applied regularly throughout the client’s training sessions (this would be my personal protocol), some will test at the beginning and end of a client’s time with them and still others think that testing is something the clients should be responsible for themselves.

Now, I’m a bit biased in my belief of what is best but that not only comes from what my team does (and is taught) but also from almost two decades of experience. Our experience as personal trainers in Amarillo, shows us that physically for the client and mentally for the trainer assessing is important to be able to push the client towards their goals. By knowing the client’s threshold, we then can make educated assumptions of how hard we should be pushing and in what areas the client needs to be focusing their efforts. Our experience has also taught us that when clients receive regular assessments they become more mentally motivated to reach their goals. Obviously seen in positive progress but even in a time of less progress, assessments allow us to take a step back and recreate our plan of action to propel the client forward again.

Which assessments are best would be determined by the trainer/client, clients goals, physical ability and mental status (current and previous) of the client. We will discuss some of the more commonly used assessments below.

Weight is probably the most common assessment used in a private and professional environment. Whether you are using weight to gauge baseline metrics or to see a pattern of success, it is important to remember that weight should be used in conjunction with several other assessment methods to receive an accurate view of progress. Men tend to fluctuate in weight between 3-8 pounds per day and women between 5-10 lbs per day. If you’ve loaded up on carbs up to 3 days before your “weigh in”, you could be storing water weight and not see an accurate number.

Girth can be seen in multiple ways, in a professional setting normally the client is measured with a tape measure to determine specific girth measurements (ie. waist, hips, etc.). At home, you could use a tape measure or even just use your clothes as a guide. If your pants, shirt or otherwise is fitting better, then the girth measurements have changed from the beginning.

Body Composition gives us information such as body fat mass and lean mass and can be taken several different ways. Some devices can even provide hydration status, healthy fat percentages, disease risk (for things like stroke, diabetes and heart disease), etc.In the professional setting you will commonly see practitioners using calipers, ultrasound or bioimpedance devices. Hydrostatic weighing is considered the “gold standard” when it comes to accuracy in body composition but these tanks are not normally readily available to the public.Recently body scanning devices have come into the market but are at such a high price not many places have them yet.There are a few tools that are made for home use but if the user hasn’t been trained in how to use them properly, it is highly likely they will receive an incorrect composition report. Body composition is usually best when left to the professionals.

Photographs are probably the easiest assessment tool we have and the most used. Pictures flood our social media streams and infomercials. When you take a picture at the beginning and end, you will be more likely to see the changes happening during your transformation. Sometimes as we work to change specific aspects of our body, it can be difficult to see those changes in the mirror. A picture tricks your mind into seeing what is REALLY there and makes this a great tool to assess progress with.

FMS or Functional Movement Screens are becoming more popular as they can help practitioners to assess the client’s level of functional movement prior to beginning an exercise program. When they do that, they can make sure that a client’s area of weakness is not loaded with an external resistance until they have improved the weak area to be strong enough to bear an external load.

Cardiovascular assessments are many. There are walking, running, stepping, biking assessments and more. These are setup to test your cardiovascular endurance and strength. No matter what you are doing in life, it is important to strengthen the heart along with the rest of the body. Include some sprint training or endurance training 3 plus times each week.

Muscular endurance assessments can include things like 1 minute push up or 1 minute sit up / crunch tests. Some people even do planking tests to see how long you can hold great form in a plank position. Whatever the test, be sure to focus on performing high quality movement rather than just getting more repetitions. This will ensure your safety and efficiency in the movement.

When it comes to strength, people sometimes perform a 1 rep max or 1RM. This is an assessment that determines a lifter’s maximal strength on any one specific lift. This assessment really needs to be done with either a professional or another lifter present to ensure the safety of the lifter.

My personal opinion is that if you truly are ready to transform, then tracking your progress (even if it is only with pictures) should be an integral part of the process. Without it, it will be difficult to see just how far you’ve come. Mental recall can be a good tool, but often our minds don’t remember the whole story the way it really happened. Sometimes it leaves out important facts. So if you’re ready to transform and are serious about reaching your goals, then be sure to track your progress through assessments!  We are here to help with that; reach out to us at info@customfitness.biz or 806-322-3188 to set up your session today.