Your weight is just a number on a scale – and most likely an inaccurate one at that. Yet some people sess over that number like it was a matter of life or death. Weight can fluctuate by several ounces or even a pound overnight. But what you gain one day as a result of water retention, you’ll lose the next day. To actually gain a pound of weight overnight, you would have to have eaten 3,500 more calories than you burned, making your calorie intake for the previous day at around 5,500; not really feasible. Better indicators of your fitness level are:

Recovery Heart Rate
One way to measure your overall cardiovascular fitness level is measure your recovery heart rate. Perform an exercise, such as walking, running or cycling that brings your heart rate up to its target heart rate level – 70 to 80% of your maximum heart rate level (220 minus your age). Stop exercising and after a minute of rest take your heart rate again. A drop of 15 to 20 beats after a minute of rest indicates a healthy system, while a drop of 12 or less indicates less than optimal heart fitness.

Muscular Strength
Muscular strength refers to the ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert maximum force. One way to measure it is useing 1RM (Repetition Maximum) method. With this method you assess muscular strength against a set formula: 1RM=(0.033 multiplied by the RTF multiplied by the load) + load.

For example, you should be able to lift 50 kilograms (110 pounds) for 9 repetitions before tiring significantly; your 1RM would be 65kg (0.033 X 9 X 50) +50=65kg. If you can’t lift 9 repetitions, you are not in good muscular strength condition. Repeat as your fitness level increases.

Muscle Endurance
Muscle endurance refers to the ability of a muscle to perform a continuous effort without significantly tiring. A good measure of upper body strength is the pushup. During a one-minute time, do as many pushup as you can. As your fitness level increases, so will the number of pushups you can do in one minute.

The flexibility of a joint is measured by its range of motion. One simple test is to sit on the floor and try to touch your toes. If you can, you have normal flexibility. If not, then you should use stretching exercises to improve flexibility. The stretch should be held for 10 to 30 seconds before relaxing. Do not bounce; just hold a steady stretch.

Body Composition
This refers to the amount of body fat you are carrying. While water displacement is a more accurate method, a set of skin-fold calipers will provide good results. Measure just above the hip bone and just to the side of the belly button. A 30 to 50 year old male should be in the 11 – 17 % range while the same aged female should be 15 – 23%.

Take these measurements at the start of your fitness training program and then periodically throughout to check your improvement. The numbers will tell the tale of your body fat percentage when measured against the standard.

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