“Well that was a big bike ride”:
Completion of cycling from East coast of USA to ‘the other side’
“Fuck that – three times is enough. I’m done.” (followed by randomly almost crying and shaking like a puppy in an ice bath):
Completion of Tough Guy
“YEAH” (followed by walk outside with stupid grin on face and feeling like the strongest man on the planet despite being nowhere close:
Completion of double bodyweight squat (165kg at 82kg BW)
“I can’t believe I make the members do that. No wonder some of them puked”:
Completion of ‘The Storm” Grade 5 score in our Storm Force Fitness Academy Grading Day test.
As you can see, the emotions related to realising you just did something epic are varied and, like getting so pissed you can’t see the next day, usually revolve around some feeling of “never again”.
Then you do it again.
This year, I’m having my first kickboxing fight at The Lock In, Guernsey.
Without any of these, my training over the years would not have been nearly as effective, exciting, or painful.
The fact is that you will NEVER be your best or even just make improvements, if you don’t test yourself.
Now quite honestly, most people won’t do all or any of the above and that’s fine.
The thing about effective testing is that it is RELEVANT.
For instance, if you are trying to get to single digit body fat it is not important how fast you run 10k because the goal can be achieved faster without doing that sort of training.
Even if your 10km time improves by 5 minutes in 8 weeks, you may well still be nowhere nearer your body composition target.
Similarly, bragging to your mates about how you’re now Facebook friends with those 5 hot girls you met the other night is irrelevant if one is not wearing your favourite t-shirt soon after.
So let’s all stop messing around in the gym and judging progress by how much more you had to put your back into those bicep curls.
Nobody, including your own body, gives a shit.
If you want an athletic body, more muscle, more girls and/or better sports performance, we need to get you tested.
Hopefully you need a test due to your training efforts, not the 5 hot girls.
There really are a multitude of tests (probably infinite) which you could use to monitor progress, but I am going to give you the ones most likely to inspire your lazy ass to do the extra rep, not miss out the last set of squats and become a better person.
Also, if you are looking to improve things like 10km time, triathlon performance etc – these won’t apply in the same way.
These are for guys who want to be bigger, stronger, leaner, faster and get more girls.
Improve these tests by 5-10% over 6-8 weeks and you’ll be more likely to see Hot Girl 4 in your t-shirt coming out the bathroom.
Body fat measured with callipers by qualified trainer
If body fat is dropping, you’re going to look better. Unless you are already a skinny bastard and would look better lifting some heavy shit and eating loads. Your body fat MIGHT go up 2-3% but you will pull more girls. Fact.
Electronic measuring devices are in the main crap because they don’t account for food intake, water retention etc.
Weight (up or depending on goals) and only in conjunction with BF plummeting
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if you are obese, you need to lose some scale weight.
But if you’re just a little podgy but also don’t have much muscle, the scales may not change much as you add muscle but lose fat so you need to track BF as well.
Muscle circumferences (up or down depending on goals)
As above, if you are obese, circumferences need to come down in most areas.
However, if you are not carrying much fat, you may again see little ‘tape measure’ change in some areas as you jack up your quads and arms whilst losing it off your stomach.
1-5 RM Ass to the floor squat (depending on experience) – Front or back squat
I say 1-5 because if you have never lifted heavy, doing 1RM tests is stupid and a great way to get hurt.
However, you should be able to work with a 5RM. Technique is still critical however and if you are a beginner going for any kind of max at first is just a bad idea.
This is for people with excellent technique and experience under a bar.
Assuming your good to go, improving your front or back squat is likely to indicate stronger, bigger legs and gluteus and a stronger core.
With the right program, it will also help increase growth all over your body by improving your anabolic hormone levels.
Girls like all of this.
1-5 RM Deadlift (depending on experience)
5 rep max chin up
Again, if you can’t yet do chin ups, working on simply building numbers with your bodyweight.
If you can get 10-12 chin ups already, see how much weight you can handle for a 5 rep test and work to improve this with the right training.
5 rep max overhead press variation
I’m not a fan of 1RM overhead pressing as it usually involves a lot of pressure on the back and shoulders.
Go for a 5 rep max test.
You can use the traditional barbell military press or use DB’s.
With kettlebells, you’re best to find the weight you can do 3-6 reps with then work to build the number of reps, potentially getting up to the next kettle bell depending on time frame.
5 round conditioning challenge for time
Improved levels of conditioning are usually accompanied by lower body fat, provided the nutrition is spot on.
It will also teach you to take some pain, which will improve other areas of your training.
Keep this to under 15-20 minutes particularly if you are quite lean already.
In fact you may even leave this out if you’re a walking broom handle.
200m heavy Farmer walk
Try this and report back.
Use dumbbells approximately 1/2 of your BW in each hand.
Serious full body challenge and man test.
% of meals that aren’t squeaky clean
If you go from 80% processed food in your diet to 5%, you’re going to want to get your shirt off more.
And so will Hot Girl 4.
100m time trial
Men are made to sprint.
Get your 100m time down and you will have done the necessary training to carve your legs, increase fat stripping and increase anabolic hormones.
400m time trial
You’ve never run 400m as fast as you can?
Oh you must go try…
Number of phone numbers offered by girls in Week 6 compared to Week 1
Hopefully you realise that all the other stuff is a means to the end you really want.
Not getting more sex?
Not training correctly (unless you’re in this for endurance performance, powerlifting or some other sporting goal)
In which case…
Not performing better?
Not winning more?
Not training correctly!
See goals need to go outside the gym as well.
Sure we use gym numbers, but also performance numbers to indicate improved athleticism and use of those performance numbers in real life situations!
Pushing the numbers up even on your squat is largely irrelevant unless you are a powerlifter.
If it doesn’t help you perform better, win more, or of course, look ripped so you get more girls, you have to question what the point is.
Training by definition means to “improve one’s capability, capacity or performance”.
But at WHAT?
You could use lots of other tests like dumbbell snatch, ring crucifix hold, Prowler repeat time trials….
The list goes on.
Just don’t be the guy who is a legend in the gym, but outside has no life and never does anything with his new found awesomeness.
Win more games?
Get more girls?
You’re on the right track.
If not, you’re busy doing the wrong stuff.
I applaud your effort and work rate but it’s misdirected.
Improve on the tests above over 6-8 weeks and you will be well on your way to machine status.
Every day in the gym is a test.
This is why making stuff up as you go along each time you get in the weights room is pointless.
Did you lift more?
Did you rest less?
Did you do more reps?
Did you do an extra set?
Did you slow the eccentric tempo down?
Every day in the gym is a school day – use it wisely and you will learn everything you need to know about yourself to better yourself.