I’m always curious as to why people train? Are they seeking a body transformation? More lean mass? Less fat mass? Are they looking to address an injured or painful joint? Maybe they would like to increase their performance in sport? Or maybe extend a professional career?
Obviously there are lots of reasons to train. And they to achieve success in each of these would be different.
But there is something that is in common with all of these different training goals. And that is the value of testing. And maybe the appropriate term these days would be ‘monitoring’.
So that is the question to anyone who trains…what are you doing to test or monitor your training?
Do you wear a heart rate monitor? Do you use a training journal? Do you weigh yourself before or after training to check water losses? You you keep a clock on yourself to keep track of rest breaks and total duration?
Besides what we do during a training session we can also measure our workouts outside of the gym as well. We can use an HRV device for recovery, we can measure our heart rate in the morning and journal our nutrition.
So why even monitor or test in the first place? I mean you can usually test if something is working or not without testing right? And for athletes shouldn’t the goal be success in the sport anyways?
You could answer yes to both of these. It is possible to see improvement in the early stages of training without testing. And athletes may see little benefit and potential injury if testing is not appropriate.
But that doesn’t outweigh all of the benefits of testing or monitoring. Here are a few.
I know I am competing in Tough Mudder on June 20 in Whistler. This race will be tough (pun intended) and will be done as a team. In order that I don’t let myself or my team-mates down I know I will be ready for this race. If there wasn’t a race to test myself on this particular date I doubt I would be in the same kind of shape towards the end of June.
The same holds true for any other competitive event. Whether it be a powerlifting competition, a gran fondo, a triathlon or a road race, entering a competitive event holds us accountable to our training and ensures a better performance on race day.
I mentioned earlier that you can usually see if a program is working for someone. For example, if a 300 lbs person starts training you can usually see a result within a few months. But how much result should we see? And how long should this take?
If someone loses 11 lbs in a period of time is this a good outcome? Should they be satisfied or have expected better? This is all depends on the initial starting point. If these numbers were for the 300 lbs person and it took two years we might suggest an alternate approach. If this was the last ten lbs someone dropped in three months this might be an incredible result.
In order to if and how well a program is working for us we need to test and monitor.
You may be wondering how testing relates to recovery? Well if prior to injury we had done some testing we would have some standards as to what the individual was capable of prior to injury. We might have some info on their strength, power, energy system abilities, range of motion and a number of other physical abilities.
For example, let’s say prior to injury an individual had 80 degrees of hip flexion. And after 3 weeks of rehab they are at 40 degrees or half way back. This helps give an idea of the rate of recovery and also provide an estimate of when the individual may be close to their pre-injury level.
Most people like doing what do most of the time. Well I hope so anyways. I’d hate to think people choose to do things that make them miserable. There’s a word for that, isn’t there?
Anyways, typically the only way to find out what you’re really good at is to try a number of things and test yourself at these. If you like doing deadlifts maybe enter a competition and see how you stack up against other lifters. Not only will you learn a lot about yourself you may also pick up tips and tricks from other competitors.
But if you sit on the sidelines your whole life you’ll never really know where you had an ability
Last we I had some meetings at UBC-O regarding this year’s Okanagan Strength & Conditioning Conference. At one point Dr. DuManoir asked me if I had time for a DEXA scan.
This is the most accurate way to assess bodyfat and is done using x-ray. I recognized the opportunity right away and went for it.
My bodyfat is 8.9% with the majority of it being between my ears. It will be interesting to follow a block of training from here going forward and then to have a follow up scan at the conference in July. I’m thinking the Tough Mudder training as well as riding my bike to work should help to improve my numbers.