In regards to fitness, most people are good about knowing where they want to be. In other words, they know their “point B.” “I want to weigh 120”…. “I want to have 10% body fat”…. “I want to look good in a swim suit.” That’s great: I love when my clients have a goal in mind.

However, what most of them miss is their “point A.” Where are you starting? What do we have to work with? Well, if you have 5 minutes, you can get a pretty good idea of where you are and what you need to work on using these 4 simple fitness tests.

The Waist-to-Height Ratio

This one is extremely simple but provides almost all the information you need to ascertain your fat loss goals. Measure you waist and measure your height. If your waist is more than half of your height, you need to focus on dropping some fat: simple enough.

Using the waist-to-height ratio is much simpler than the BMI scale, and it’s also a better indicator of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, and stroke[1]. Keep your waist to half your height or below and you’ll avoid obesity and all the negative conditions that are associated with it.

The Sitting-Rising Test

Another simple test that requires no equipment, the sitting-rising test measures flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body ratio, and overall co-ordination. Simply lower yourself to a seated position on the floor using as little assistance as you can. Then, stand back up using as little assistance as you can.

Points are docked for each body part used to assist the movement, with the exception of the feet of course. The maximum score possible for each movement, sitting and rising, is 5.

For example, if Bill must use one hand to assist himself to the ground, he gets a score of 4. If to rise he needs a knee and a hand on the knee/thigh, he gets a score of 3. The composite score is the total of two scores, which for Bill is 7.

Researchers found that a score of 7 or lower was associated with a 2-5 times higher risk of death when compared to those who scored 8 or above[2].

If you score poorly on this test, movement efficiency and overall muscular strength need to be addressed. Keep the score above 8 and you’re doing great! If you can get it to 10, even better! Only 2 out of the 159 participants that died during the study follow-up had scores of 10.

The Elbow Plank

Planking can reveal a lot about someone, but I mainly use it for assessing core strength, which includes any weakness or compensation pattern involving the lower back.

If you can hold a plank for two minutes, you pass! If you can’t, that’s the first thing to address. Second is where you feel it the most if you can’t hold it for two minutes.

In my experience, the reason most people can’t hold a plank long enough is because they have too much weight around their waist: it’s hard to hold up all that weight for two minutes! Our first assessment, the waist-to-height ratio, covers that part of it. If you’re fairly thin and can’t hold a plank for two minutes, chances are you don’t have the necessary endurance in your abs and back to hold for that long.

The best way to get up to two minutes? First, lose the stomach if it’s there. Focus on good food choices first and foremost. Second, practice planking! That alone will help strengthen your core, and doing it with extra weight at the beginning will make it that much easier as you lose the weight!

However, once you can plank on your elbows for 30 seconds, consider sliding out further to make it harder. Keep making it harder and harder as you progress, but make sure to test the default version of the plank here and there to see if you’re getting close to that 2 minute mark.

One-Leg Balancing

The last assessment is just as simple as the others: stand on one leg. That’s it. If you can do it for at least ten seconds while staying fairly still, you pass! If not, chances are you need a little work on your hips, ankles, or knees.

Strengthening the muscles of the hips and calves will be very helpful here, but just as important is to make sure they’re not bound up into knotted-up balls of muscle. In other words, they could be chronically tight, and that can have a big impact on your balance.

The solution breaks down like this:

  1. Strengthen the muscles using exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and calf raises, and focus on using as much range of motion as possible.
  2. Do mobility work for the hips, IT bands (outside of the upper leg), and calves using foam rollers, tennis balls, or The Stick (see below).
The Stick Travel Stick - 17 Inches - Standard Flexibility With Red Handles - Therapeutic Body Massage Stick - Potentially Improves Flexibility - Aids Muscle Recovery And Muscle Pain - Provides Myofasc
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I've used the Stick before and LOVE it. Very easy to bring places (opposed to foam rollers) and feels great.
EPE Black High Density Foam Roller: 6"x36", Round, 1.9 lbs per cubic foot
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(price as of Jul 13, 2016)
Improve your tissue quality and flexibility with these foam rollers. Start with these, and if they get too "easy", consider the rumble roller below.
Rumble Roller Half Size Extra Firm Black - Textured Muscle Foam Roller Manipulates Soft Tissue Like A Massage Therapist - 12 Inches
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(price as of Jul 13, 2016)
This is what I personally use, but it's tough! Use this if you're very tight and have a lot of knots but can handle a decent amount of pain. It feels great... once you're done :)


Take 5 minutes to test yourself with these 4 assessments. After that, you’ll know where you are, making it easier to get where you want. Good luck!