I’m looking for a battery of appropriate test procedures to implement so as to establish and develop a client's fitness profile involving: strength, balance, agility, speed, cardiorespiratory, cardiovascular, coordination, etc.
As a reminder, a proper assessment needs to incorporate a static and dynamic postural and flexibility assessment in order to observe any gross imbalances that would restrict or alter normal movement patterns. By identifying muscle imbalances, you can more accurately address the client’s needs and goals. Once you have incorporated a comprehensive assessment, testing for specific needs requires specialized tests.
1. Beginning with strength, I have listed one exercise/assessment below.
- Test. Squat
- Description. Feet placed a comfortable width apart, toes straight, knees aligned with 2-3rd toe. Squat where the client can maintain postural control.
- Parameters. 3-5 rep. Sub-max test
2. When focusing on testing for balance, address dynamic posture with balance.
There are two tests you can use to determine balance and how they relate to muscular imbalances. A client’s ability to balance is directly related to his or her flexibility and neuromuscular control. The kinetic chain works as an integrated unit; therefore, when assessing a clients’ ability to balance, your are also assessing dysfunction. Listed below are two tests to use as well as a chart to help you better understand what you are looking for and ways and/or steps to correct imbalances.
- Test. Single-leg Balance Excursion
- Description. Client begins balanced on one leg. Instruct the athlete to squat down to their balance threshold (this is the bent knee position that the athlete can keep postural control and alignment). While squatting on one leg, the athlete reaches with the opposite leg in each plane of motion in a slow, controlled manner. Without allowing for compensations at the foot, knee or hips, record the distance (heel to toe, non-standing leg near standing leg) with a tape measure. You may want to video tape the assessment for post-test comparisons.
- What to look for. Look at the checkpoints as listed above. This assessment measures functional strength, integrated flexibility, and neuromuscular efficiency.
3. Second balance test
For agility assessments, again there are two tests you can use to measure a client’s ability to move quickly while maintaining neuromuscular control. With these two tests, speed is a component.
- Test. L.E.F.T. ( Lower Extremity Functional Test)
- Description. This test will encompass just about every movement that occurs in sports. Begin with two cones spaced 10 yards apart. Athlete begins behind the first cone and:
Timer stands at Cone 2, begin time on first movement and end when athlete crosses imaginary line between timer and cone 2.
- Forward sprint to Cone 2, touch cone.
- Backpedal to Cone 1, touch cone
- Side shuffle to Cone 2, touch cone.
- Side shuffle back to Cone 1, touch cone
- Carioca to Cone 2, touch cone.
- Carioca back to Cone 1, touch cone.
- Forward sprint to Cone 2.
4. There are three speed assessment tests
When assessing speed, I use three specific tests. The 40-yard dash, Flying 30m sprint and the 300 meter shuttle. Other tests will encompass speed; however, in these tests, the prime focus is on straight ahead speed.
- Test. 40-yard Dash
- Description. Timer stands at the finish line. Begin time on first movement.
5. Cardiorespiratory assessment is vastly different.
The guidelines for assessing cardiorespiratory fitness are vastly different than the tests shown above. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) lists a few test types for submaximal testing. These tests are the treadmill test, cycle ergometer test, stepping protocols and field tests. The most common of the tests listed is the Cooper field test. The Cooper 12-minute run/walk requires that the client cover as much distance as possible in 12 minutes. The test results are to be estimated as: VO2max (mL/kg/minute) = 3.126 x (meters covered in 12 minutes) – 11.3. These tests give a good general idea of a client’s overall cardiorespiratory fitness level.
- American College of Sports Medicine, ACSM’s Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 4th edition. New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2001.
- Clark, Micheal A.. NASM OPT: Optimum Performance Training for the Performance Enhancement Specialist. 2001.