Why Assess?

Assessment is one of the pillars of my coaching practice.  This critical concept has completely changed the way I design programs and train people, so it’s hard to imagine that I didn’t always do this.  So, what is assessment and why do it?

Assessment is Truth

An assessment is simply a measurement; a measurement that gives you solid, factual information to base training strategies around.  You can think about the process of planning workouts as having 4 steps:

  1. Noticing (for example, I notice that you suck at push-ups)
  2. Explaining (we learn that you struggle to hold your body in a straight line while you do the push-up)
  3. Prescribing (I tell you to do a plank hold every morning when you wake up and every night before bed)
  4. Actioning (You do the plank holds and get better at push-ups)

In this example, the assessment happened at Step 4, when we did something that showed us your struggle with the planking component of the push-up.  Maybe I simply had you do a few push-ups and observed your struggles.  Maybe we did a max plank test and noticed where you were failing at that.  Essentially, what happened is that we investigated what was going on to find the source of the problem and then created a plan based on attacking that root cause.

This is not how everyone trains, but it should be.  When we actually take the time to stop and assess movement, we get to the actual facts about what is going wrong (or right) with that movement.  This is different than guessing.  This is investigation and discovery.

Why Assess?

I love mixed metaphors and silly analogies, so go on a ride with me.  Imagine we’re driving to Chicago.  We know it’s east of here, but that’s about it.  We just start driving.  That’s like guessing with your workouts.  So, we’re guessing, and we get totally lost.  Maybe we end up in Colorado or Canada because we didn’t have a map to follow.  But now we buy a GPS system for the car and get a ping that shows us EXACTLY where we are: That’s Assessment!  Now we can write a recipe that brings all the ingredients together and cook our way to Chicago.

Assessment gives you facts about what you can actually do, what you can’t do, and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.  This allows you to proceed with confidence in creating a plan to address those weaknesses and open up the abilities to do the things you cannot do now.  Assessment gives you the truth and shows you the way.

Examples of Assessments

Some examples of assessments that I use frequently:

  • An air squat
  • An air squat with arms overhead
  • Stepping up onto a box
  • A split squat
  • Reaching to touch your toes with straight legs
  • The scratch test: reaching back to touch your shoulder blades both overhead and behind you, one arm at a time
  • Max forearm plank hold
  • Max side plank holds
  • Max glute bridge hold
  • Max single-leg glute bridge hold
  • Max unbroken perfect push-ups
  • 8-rep split squats
  • Max Sorenson hold
  • 10:00 on the Airdyne
  • A 5-day nutrition log on paper
  • A week of nutrition tracking in MyFitnessPal
  • A questionnaire about health history & lifestyle
  • Body composition photographs
  • Skinfold measurements
  • Weight on a scale
  • Tape measures of girth at various location on the body

You can see that assessments come in all shapes and sizes and tell us all sorts of things about a persons health & fitness, each in different ways.  What they all have in common is that they are an objective measurement of something and they’re all done in a consistent manner so that the results are comparable.

The information gathered from assessments, along with an understanding of your goals, priorities, and preferences, leads to the design of training programs that actually work. The end.

Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

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