Physiologic Testing for Fitness and Performance

Physical fitness implies that a great deal of work can be done without excessive fatigue. Therefore fitness tests measure an individual’s ability to perform physical work. Apart from body composition the physiological parameters used to assess fitness and performance are cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility.

Physiological tests for performance can be done in the laboratory or field. Laboratory tests are conducted in highly controlled environments using standardized protocols, expensive equipment and qualified personnel. Conversely, field tests are conducted when an athlete performs the actual or simulated event or activity in the field. Laboratory testing is considered to be more reliable as physiological parameters can be more precisely measured but field tests that can simulate actual competition events tend to be more valid. Effective testing should include the following considerations:

  1. Variables that are relevant and contribute to performance outcome should be measured. For. Eg. When jump height is the performance measure of interest it would be pointless to measure grip strength.
  2. Test conducted should be valid and reliable in order to be useful. A test is said to be valid when it measures what it claims to measure, and a test becomes reliable when it is reproducible and yields consistent results.
  3. The test should be specific to the athlete and have adequate practical significance. For example, it would be meaningless to conduct aerobic capacity testing on a treadmill for a cyclist or swimmer as it does not provide any information on related to performance in swimming or cycling.
  4. The test administrators should be competent in evaluating and choosing tests and procedures that are appropriate.
  5. A standardized testing protocol must be followed.

Physiologic components that are most often measured to assess fitness and performance include, Cardiorespiratory endurance or aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity, muscle force, power, and flexibility.

Aerobic capacity: Cardiorespiratory endurance or aerobic capacity is one of the most important components of fitness. Cardiorespiratory fitness is defined as the ability to perform repetitive, moderate to high-intensity large movement for a prolonged period of time.

Anaerobic Power: Anaerobic power assesses the ability of energy systems that are capable of replenishing ATP for a few seconds during high or maximal intensity exercise. The energy system.

Muscular Strength: Muscular strength determines if an athlete can move more weight. Muscular strength has the direct impact on performance only when performance is based on lifting a specified weight such as weightlifting competitions.

Flexibility: It is defined as the range of motion possible around a joint. Flexibility is an important component of health and fitness status as it is associated with the ability to perform various activities in day to day life. Several factors affect the flexibility of an individual, such as age, level of physical activity, tightness of muscle, ligaments, and tendons.

Muscle Endurance: Calisthenic tests are most commonly used to assess muscle endurance wherein the client lifts his or her own body weight. In these tests, it is assumed that the client’s body weight is a submaximal weight that can be lifted several times.

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