Testing and assessing are often used interchangeably, but it’s important to understand the difference between the two, and when to use each.
Testing is stressful. Many people simply cringe at just the word of it, and tense up immediately, while others absolutely thrive on the challenge presented in front of them.
When testing in fitness, people are pushing their limits, giving full effort, and it can often lend itself to a more competitive setting. A good example of this is a local CrossFit competition, where teams or individuals test their limits through a series of workouts, to see where they stack up.
There are positive and negative effects of testing. The biggest positive is that it often surprises people, helping them find new and unexpected limits. The biggest negatives are that some mentally struggle to cope with the challenge, and there is a higher risk involved when pushing to the fullest extent.
Assessing is the ability to gauge where you are currently. As much as it can have some crossover to testing, it is much more related to a true consistency of our capability, as opposed to the best we could ever reach.
Testing is pushing the fullest extent of your limits; assessing is where you truly are.
When coaching a class, I will often ask what your “max today” is, meaning it’s not important what you HAVE done in your “glory days” or best effort ever, but what is realistic regarding how your body is currently feeling. Sleep, stress, nutrition and many more factors play a role in where we are at day to day, and that awareness is key. Once that is understood, then you truly make strides forward.
In fitness, just as anything else in life, you need to know where you are so you can know where you are going. This is where it is crucial to have a correct assessment.
For example, my best ever Clean & Jerk is 265# and that is when I have truly tested it. However, that only happens when the stars align for me, especially nowadays. With a business, clients, employees, and a family to take care of, my mind is often cluttered and stressed, which can keep from a consistent best effort. On a regular occasion, I can lift 215# to 235#, not 265#. Being aware of this and an assessment of my consistent ability can help me get the most out of my workout, and not set myself back.
The purpose of our training is to improve our lives for the long term, not to break ourselves today and nurse back to health for the next two weeks. No one wins here.
This is the exact reason why we are taking the time to assess our levels within the Level Method. It is a tool to help make everyone aware of where they really are, rather than risking shots in the dark.
When taking on each of these assessments, be sure to approach them with the right mindset. We are assessing, not testing, and finding where we currently and consistently are. From there we are able to address the next best steps for you and your goals, then gauge our progress.