Test Your Might!
Throw kegs, dead lift cars, power clean downed trees, run a mile, do whatever you have to do to test your might! Depending on your goals your test parameters of course will vary.
The testing parameters should model the goal you want to accomplish. A person who wants to complete a triathlon, marathon or run a tough mudder should not gauge his or her progress via maximal strength lifts. Individuals in this category should use tests that show progress though muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance. That means choose activities that last over a prolonged time period and focus on time under tension.
*Examples: Push ups, crunches or squats over one minutes time. Timing a cardiovascular activity (swimming, running, cycling) for a specified distance.
Power lifters would fall into this category. These individuals have a goal to lift as much weight as possible for one single rep. For this goal the test is simple. Complete any movement using the heaviest weight you can for one perfect rep. The movements should all be multi-joint movements. There is no reason to strength test a bicep curl. Also, stop doing curls in the damn squat rack….. okay now I am ranting.
*Examples: Squat, Dead Lift, Bench Press, Clean, Snatch all for one maximal rep
For a bodybuilder, the best bet is to use a one rep max calculator to gauge progress. Body builders work ideally in the 6-12 rep range, so it would be ideal to keep the test parameters similar to the work out parameters. Take any muti-joint exercise and use the heaviest weight you can for one set of 6-12 reps. The lower the amount of reps completed the more accurate the calculation will be. If a person can do 20 reps, the weight needs to be increased so the reps will decrease. A good one rep max calculator can be found here. There are also some great ones available for free on smart phones.
*Examples:Dead Lift, Bench Press, Rows, Over Head Press, Squat
Have the goal in mind when creating a test to gauge progress. Also, keep the testing variables the same from test to test and be consistent with your testing. Use the same grip on the bar, use the same form for push ups, run the same course for the mile run, and get enough sleep and eat properly on testing days. Limiting changes in variables will keep the testing accurate and allow for a more reliable sense of accomplishment. Now go test your might!