“MEASURE WHAT IS MEASURABLE AND MAKE MEASURABLE WHAT IS NOT”.
With these words, Galileo Galilei stated one of the most important concepts in science. Without a system of measure, it is impossible to quantify any phenomenon and make it comparable with others as well as with the changes of the same phenomenon during time. This is why measuring is essential also in training. No matter what your goal is and no matter which training program you follow, you need to know if it works and the only way to do so is by measuring changes!
There are several tests that we must do as coaches, trainers, and athletes. From the very first time a person comes through the door of the gym, a good coach is already making an evaluation of their athlete. The body talks in several ways which all differ from each other. Attitude, first and foremost, is a great index of the psychological state of a person and this is interpreted based on the way a person walks. These two features can give a huge amount of information about further and more precise considerations in regards to pattern movements (mobility or stability issues for instance) and consequently, sport performance. After this, more precise evaluations must be done which range from pattern movements to performance output. Especially if we are talking about Sport Performance, strength and power levels are fundamental in every sport and there are several ways one can measure them. The 1RM test in the major lifts is the most commonly used test in a majority of sports. Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Power Clean, Power Snatch and some others are the most tested lifts using the 1RM. There are some other tests that differ from sport to sport: the Vertical Jump Height in Volley or the length of throws and 10-20 yard sprint times in American Football just to name a few.
However, testing is not the only available way to observe and quantify progress. Monitoring, which is the continuous tracking of every workout comprehensive of all the small details that occur, is another valid option. Testing and monitoring are two different approaches that have both pros and cons when it comes to measuring change, but in my opinion, both should be used to complement each other.
THE PROS AND THE CONS OF TESTING
- Every physical test strictly depends on the daily conditions of the athlete and on the precise modalities in which it is done. So, if you decide to test your squat 1RM, but you didn’t sleep or you didn’t eat, the probabilities that your test will be distorted are very high. Then what happens? You have to rest, at least 24 hours, and repeat the test (hoping to feel better);
- It takes time. A test requires a great activation of the Central Nervous System so you need to do an accurate warm up that prepares you physically and mentally. You have to be ready and willing to face and beat your 1RM Pr;
- A Test is a Max Effort workout. It requires great energy expenditure and consequently the risks of injuries increase;
- Ok, it is fatiguing and dangerous, but it is very exciting! Max Effort days remain my favorite!
THE PROS AND THE CONS OF MONITORING
- It allows for much more information about one’s performance. It requires more time because you have to take notes of all the details, but with Beast Sensor, this process is simplified because weights, velocities, repetitions, and sets are automatically sent to the web portal;
- Velocities are a fundamental index to know where your program is taking you. Are you becoming more explosive? Your 1RM might not be changing but is the speed of the bar faster? These are questions that every coach and athlete should take into account;
- Comparing workouts is the most important thing you should do. It’s just as important as the workout itself. If you don’t track your workouts during weeks, months or even years, you won’t be able to identify what works better for you and what doesn’t work at all.
The truth is that you have to make tests and you have to monitor your workouts. One without the other is not enough.