A quick test to measure your fitness improvement

Are you looking for an easy way to determine if you're getting fitter from all the training you're doing?

Of course the ideal way to track progress is to write down your progress (weight lifted, average heart rate during a run, speed, bodyweight, etc).

But not everyone cars about such details.

Many people just want to know if they're getting fitter "overall".

One easy way to measure aerobic fitness is by measuring how quickly your heart recovers after a hard effort.

So every few weeks or so, use a standard test (see below) and check your heart rate when you stop AS WELL AS 30 seconds latter.

Write them both down. How much your Heart Rate drops in those 30 seconds immediately following a hard effort are a measure of overall aerobic fitness.

How to measure heart rate:

  • FitBit or similar device
  • Sports watch with build-in heart rate monitor
  • Sports watch with heart rate belt
  • Smartphone app (e.g. Instant Heart Rate by Azumio)
  • 2 fingers on carotid artery in the neck + stopwatch 
  • Hand Sensors on some cardio machines

Examples of tests you can use:

  • 3 to 5min (choose one) maximum effort on rowing machine
  • 3 to 5min (choose one) maximum effort run on treadmill (or outdoor)
  • 20 to 50 burpees (choose one) as fast as possible
  • Or anything other maximum effort lasting between 3min to 5min.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember that you need to measure your Heart Rate IMMEDIATELY upon completion of the test and THIRTY SECONDS afterwards.

The reason is that a measurement after 1min or longer following the completion of the test does NOT give the same result: as this recent study from the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research reveals, fit people and less fit people will see similar heart rate recovery after 1min or longer. So measure at 30 seconds. 

Any questions / comments: please post below.