Assess for Success
How to Use Assessments to Hit Your Goals
Why Should I Assess?
It is important to know exactly the metrics you will use to measure your success.
If you never get on a scale, how will you know that you have lost weight? If you never do a body composition or a strength test, how will you know if you are stronger? If you never check in with your body, how will you know you have made improvements?
And if you don’t see imporvements, how long will you keep going before you quit?
This is why we recommend checking in with your body and your goals daily, and doing assessments every 4-6 weeks.
* Note: Try to weigh at the same time, in the same condition, every week. (ex. Thursday am., naked, after you get out of your morning shower) The more consistent the conditions, the more accurate the changes.
What Happens When You Get Stuck
Plateaus are a part of every fitness goal. You want to lose 25lbs. Every day you weigh religiously. In the beginning, it is effortless. Weight seems to drop daily. 5lbs down, 8lbs down, 11 lbs down…..then WHAM! No improvements, no changes, not even an ounce. You are doing everything right, but the scale won’t budge. Maybe it’s broken. You change the battery. Nothing. AAARRGHHHH. This is where a lot of people quit, frustrated, convinced that this working out thing doesn’t work. Here come the excuses provided by that mean little voice in your head. You are different. You have some underlying issue. You are destined to fail.
But don’t quit. It is merely your body seeking homeostasis, a reset point.
When you are focused on one thing, plateaus are some of the most frustrating, demoralizing times ever. But by paying attention to some secondary metrics, you will be able to see changes, even when the scale won’t move.
Primary Assessment Tools: Scale, Handheld or Scale Body Fat Monitor, Fit3D
Secondary Assessment Tools:Performance Metrics, Your Clothes
The scale functions irrespective of the body composition. That means you could lose weight (water, muscle) and the scale would go down, but you would not look better. Smaller yes, but softer, squishier and saggier. But scales are the measuring device we are most familiar with, and they are also the ones that can ruin our day, based off a salty meal last night and 5 lbs of retained fluid.
What you NEED to know if you get stuck:
If your scale DOES NOT MOVE- Do a body compostions test with a hand held body fat monitor, use the fit3D or a tape measure. A reduction of body fat may not show on the scale if you simultaneously add some muscle. Your circumference may change, without the scale moving due to the fact that 1lb of muscle takes up 17% less room than 1lb. of fat, so clothes may seem looser. Also check your performance metrics, are you exercising longer, harder, burning more calories, recovering faster. These are all indicators that you are still moving in the right direction with what you are doing.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Stay the course.
Primary Assessment Tool: Sit and Reach test
Secondary Assessment Tool: Functional Movement Screening by a qualified professional.
If you don’t see progress:
Focus on stretching, yoga and foam rolling daily, limit weight training/muscle building to 3 times a week.
Regular foam rolling can do wonders with releasing tightly bound muscles. It increases blood flow, promotes healing and softens knotted muscles.
Primary Assessment Tool: RHR (Resting Heart Rate), Blood Pressure, 3 Minute Step Test, HR Monitor
Secondary Assessment Tool: See your physician for a full cardiac work up
If you are not seeing positive changes (ie. lowering blood pressure, lower RHR):
See your physician to determine if there is an underlying issue.
If cardiac health is a concern, please consult a physician before starting any exercise routine. If you are healthy, try using alternating strength and active recovery (more total body style TOD) to encourage a positive response.
Primary Assessment Tools: Hand held or scale based body fat monitor, Hydrostatic dunking.
Secondary Assessment Tools: Performance metrics (strength)
Limitations: Be aware; most vary in accuracy up to 5%, and do not work well when you are warm from exercise or dehydrated.
If your measurements ARE NOT CHANGING:
Look at your performance metrics. Are you working out harder? For more calories? Are your weights increasing regularly? Are you recovering faster? Has it been longer than 4 weeks since you changed up your programming?
Increase weights, change programming, increase or decrease your calories depending on your goal, take a short (5-7 day) break in training to recover fully, drink more H20.
How to Determine Body Composition-
Equipment: Typically done with a body fat enabled scale, or hand held bodyfat monitor.
Accuracy: 3-5% accuracy
The science: An imperceptible electric charge is sent through the body from one hand or foot to the other. The rate of return is measured using an algorithm and known values and statistical norms of things like bone density, organ size, skin weight, etc.
Least effective when: You are dehydrated, overly muscular for your gender, very low body fat, or warm from a workout.
How to use it: Your body fat is displayed as a percentage of overall weight (ex. 26%)
If you are 150 and 19.5% body fat, this means:
150*.195= 29.25 lbs of bodyfat
150*.74= 120.75 lbs of lean body mass
During the times when you plateau, it is easy to give up on yourself. Don’t. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. Focus on every small positive thing that you can do to move forward. Reward yourself and praise yourself for doing those things. Seek validation in secondary assessment methods. Stick with it.
Soon you will look up to find your progress has leapt ahead in one big surge, and the process repeats.