It is the new year!I always love this time of year, as a new year is always filled with such promise. It is a clean slate where anything is possible! You can put the past behind you and move forward with excitement and vigor.
What is your training resolution? Maybe you're ready to set a masters world record. Maybe you want to be able to lift more weight. Maybe you want to get back down to your fighting weight. Maybe you're ready to get rid of pain and take back control of your movement.
All of these resolutions have something in common. All of these resolutions will be much more attainable with assessments!
Assessments are not always the most flashy piece of a training program, but they provide the data needed to plot the most effective course of action. Training without scheduled assessments results in missed opportunities or disappointing levels of achievement.
When it comes to The Lifelong Athlete, I recommend completing performance assessments once a quarter. This way you are well-equipped with the information needed to gauge the effectiveness of your training program. Wait any longer and you run the risk of sliding down a slippery slope. Complete them more frequently and you might short-change the desired training effect. The following tests will provide value regardless of your training goals.
You can complete the following assessment in one of two ways. This is all dependent on what fits your schedule the best. The key is to collect the data!
Here is how I would break down testing sessions based on the two formats listed above.
Build your athlete profile!
Your resting heart rate is a great tool to see how you are responding to stress. This is just not life stress. Training is a stressor (the good kind) and has to be managed like all other stressors in life. The key is to establish a baseline. Then you can use this number to check-in and see how you're responding to training and life!
RANGE & STABILITY
The next phase takes a look at how well you can move through all of your joints and maintain quality body positioning. If you struggle with one of these tests, this could point you to where you are susceptible for injury to occur. For example, lacking stability during the split squat test could point to why you experience knee pain while running on land or completing a flutter kick in the water.
Now let’s move on and test your total body power. There are many ways to accomplish this, but I often rely on on the broad jump. It is simple. requires minimal equipment, and provides plenty of information. Yes, you will be measuring distance covered, but I also want you to study the quality of your movement.
Capturing how you’re performing the test is as important, or even more important, as the score you achieve on the test.
For you to obtain the best success with your training, you should have a ballpark of what your strength numbers are. Do you know what weight you used for an exercise the last time you did it? How about the time before that?
If you’re just guessing and not tracking your movements, you are wasting valuable training time. Your performance improves when proper stimulus is added during your training. The guessing stimulus might get lucky every once in a while, but it will not lead you on the path of continuous growth and performance success. Here are some simple base strength measures I utilize.
This is a simple “check in” test. While your goals are probably very dynamic in nature, being able to complete a front and side bridge for a minute is still a valuable marker. I look at this as the entry level stability component needed before hopping into advanced movements.
Did You Know: The USOC looks for athletes to hold a four minute front bridge and a three minute side bridge on each side.
This is viewed as a valuable measure for injury prevention. That might seem pretty wild to you when you think about how much you shake during one minute of each variation. My goal is to get every athlete up to a one minute hold of each variation to start.
This is a great way to see how well you can buffer against hydrogen ion buildup in your system, especially when moving at a higher intensity. If you like to participate in sports that involve racing, this is a good training attribute to strive for improvement. Once hydrogen ions build up in your system your body begins to turn more acidic. When this happens, your body will be forced to slow down. This happens whether you like it or not!
As you complete the tests, there is one key to keep in mind. While you can search for benchmarks or goal numbers, the key is to gather your data and try to improve your results!
Do not get discouraged if you're not firing on all cylinders and avoid the comparison rabbit hole. The purpose of this is to find your limiting factors so you can minimize them. If you Google “good scores” for these assessments, you’ll find plenty of different takes on values achieved. While this breakdown of poor, below average, average, above average, and excellent is helpful, it can also be misleading. Make sure you consider the following:
When it comes to POWER, STRENGTH, and CAPACITY, there are some baseline numbers that I have found help all athletes. Again, I urge you to start by fixing any RANGE & STABILITY limitations. Your POWER, STRENGTH, and CAPACITY numbers mean much less when you have restrictions. You’re also not following the best route for injury prevention and lifelong performance when you chase these measures out of sync. Please keep in mind that these are some baseline numbers that I have found to help all athletes. Your specific goals might require more or less than what is listed.
Remember, if you want some personalized feedback, just submit your scores for review! Completing these tests once a quarter will give you solid information to make sure your performance is heading in the right direction.
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