Fitness Testing for Novices May Be Redundant and Sometimes Harmful

Newcomers to fitness training are usually subjected to batteries of tests by well-schooled doctors or fitness professionals in an effort to prescribe exercise more safely and effectively. However, some of these tests are stress tests which expose these novices prematurely to what for them is high intensity loading.

Standard ECG tests are renowned for not giving accurate information about the individual’s state of cardiac health; bodyfat measurements often serve more as a motivational goal than a scientific barometer of wellness; step tests can impose unnecessary stress on the untrained cardiorespiratory system and the jarring associated with them may damage the joints; blood pressure tests may reflect changes which have nothing to do with pathology; ‘aerobic’ fitness does not correlate with enhanced ‘health’; and so forth.

Is it not better simply to assume that the novice is extremely unfit and that any prior medical history offers a more sensible approach to assessing the newcomer to exercise? Why stress the client with tests which may tell you very little when you can presume that the client is very unfit at this initial stage? Are tests being administered by fitness professionals simply to appear more scientific to clients or do these tests play a vital role in exercise prescription for beginners? Is it not preferable to prescribe a very modest PRE-TESTING PHASE of adaptive exercise lasting about 4-6 weeks before any tests are administered? Discuss these points.

Mel Siff