Tests, Homework and Other Delights

This article originally appeared on wildgoosefitness.com

The morning and noon class have been helping me out with an experiment. I want to know if I can make them stronger, more well rounded individuals. Starting January 1st of this year we have been measuring, testing, assessing ourselves trying to see if all the hard work is adding up to something good. So far the results have been exciting.

Over the course of the first week of this year my class regulars participated in a series of basic assessments designed to measure strength, power, mobility and work capacity. These assessments are simple things like a standing long jump and a kettlebell farmer carry, both for maximum distance.

I used the results of the first assessment to identify the most pressing weak spots and then suggested supplementary drills that the individual could do in addition to their normal training. We called it “Homework” and it was extremely simple. If their hips were tight in the squat they might practice a couple of prying goblet squats between work sets of the main lift, if a weak grip was the issue they might practice hanging from the bar. Every month or so I would reassess and see if the Homework was working. If it was I would look for the next priority for improvement, if not I would try another approach. Everybody in class keeps a detailed training log which makes progress easy to track.

We never practice long jumps in class or max out our farmer carries but when we finally redid the full assessment last month everybody had improved in both. In the initial assessment everyone jumped at least their height and several people jumped further. Twenty weeks later the average improvement was 14.3 inches! The farmer carry test involves picking up a pair of kettlebells and walking laps around the rig for as long as you can. Most of us use the 32 or 48 kg. Bells and the combined weight is right around body weight. The average carry improvement was 2.25 laps!

Other highlights of the retest include one person adding 9 push-ups to her 60-second max push-up test, another adding 5 laps to his farmer carry. The most improved was Matt from the noon class who added 21 inches (21!) to his long jump, 3 laps to his farmer carry and 2 pull-ups to his 30-second pull-up test. Matt’s homework mostly consisted of goblet squats and extra farmer carries. Nothing fancy.

There are a few things I take from all this: focus on the basics, write down what you do everyday and track your progress or lack thereof and you must measure! Any members that are curious about the assessments should come to one of my classes or schedule a one-on-one appointment. Meanwhile we will continue testing and retesting, focusing on building up our weaknesses each week and I can’t wait to see how far we can go by next year!

Blake Nelson