The IronPlate Guide to Fitness


May 4 is National Fitness day ( and while we’re a few days early, we think it’s a good time to talk about the concept of overall fitness. We all know fitness is important to our health and well-being. We know it is important for:

  • cardiovascular and respiratory health

  • bone health

  • reducing the risk of illness

  • improving quality of life

But do you know what your own personal fitness levels are? Or what intensity you should be working out at? Or how to improve your fitness level? Chances are if you see us at IronPlate, we take the guesswork out for you. If you are working out on your own, or are curious as to how fit you are compared to other people your age, read on!

What’s your fitness level?

There are many different ways you can test your fitness level and compare it to other people of the same age and gender. Here are a couple of simple, minimal equipment required ways you can assess yours.

** NOTE**

  • It is important to make sure you have been cleared by your physician to perform physical activity prior to attempting any of these fitness tests.

  • It is also important that you properly warm-up for 5-10 minutes prior to trying any of these fitness tests.

  • As with any exercise it is also recommended that you are not completely alone. Grab a partner or head to a gym with proper supervision.

12 Minute Run (Cooper Test- founded by Dr. Ken Cooper in 1968)

  • Used to determine aerobic fitness, it allows you to compare cardiovascular fitness with others of your same age and gender.

  • Usually done on a track, but can also be done on a treadmill if you set the incline to 1% so simulate outdoors.

    • Set the timer for 12 minutes and run as far as you can in that time period. (4 laps around the track=1 mile.)

    • to see how you compare to others in your demographic.

Resting HR

  • Take Heart rate in radial artery

    • With palm facing up, use pointer and middle fingers of opposite hand to trace thumb down into the wrist. Feel for first nook under wrist bone, press down lightly into that nook and you should feel a pulse

    • Take first thing when you walk up in the morning.

    • Count each beat for 1 minute.

  • The average resting heart rate is between 60-100 beats per minute. (bpm)

  • Generally, the lower the resting heart rate, the better cardiovascular shape you are in. (Heart pumps more efficiently with each beat).

    • It’s not uncommon for a well trained athlete’s resting heart rate to fall somewhere between 40-60bpm.

Push Up Test

  • Set the Timer for 1 minute

  • Count how many reps you can do in that time frame. (Count only full down and up repetitions only!)

  • See chart below for how you compare.

Waist Circumference

  • Proven to be an indicator for obesity and risk of disease.

    • The higher your waist circumference, the higher your risk for heart disease and type II diabetes

  • To measure your waist circumference:

    • Stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hip bones.

    • Measure your waist just after you breathe out.

    • See chart for where you may fall.

3 min step test

  • Used to assess cardiovascular fitness level, by assessing your heart rate immediately post exercise activity.

  • Tools: Use a 12in. Step

  • This YouTube site: for a timer and metronome. (To make the test more standard, each person must step up, up, down, down to the same beat.)

  • Instructions:

    • Start timer and begin stepping up on the step in an up, up, down down pattern to the beat of the metronome in the video/timer.

    • Continue this pattern for 3 minutes. (Timer also on video)

    • At the end of the three minutes, immediately sit down and count your pulse for 1 minute. (Best to use wrist pulse over neck)

    • Compare results in the chart below

How to improve fitness level

You’ve tested your fitness level and you see where you compare, and now you want to improve it. How should you go about doing so?

If you don’t work with us already, contact our amazing trainers at IronPlate Studios and IronPlate Online who will be able to safely and appropriately progress you through your workouts both in studio and at home.

Workouts are commonly progressed using the FITT principle or:

F-Frequency (number of days)
I-Intensity ( speed, incline, resistance, weight, reps etc)

Generally speaking, when trying to improve your fitness level, you want to slowly increase one of the four above components at a time.

It’s recommended that you get an average of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity 4+ days a week, but everyone’s starting point is different. If you are currently under those recommendations then increasing your frequency or time would be a good place to start. If you are meeting those requirements, then you will want to focus on increasing intensity or time.

Changing the type of exercise is going to be important for cross training, so your body doesn’t get too comfortable with one type of exercise. This is true for both cardio and weight training. It’s important to rotate the type of your workout (unless training for a specific event) every so often. For cardio, I like to recommend switching the type 1 day a week if possible. (For example if you use the treadmill 3 days a week, try treadmill 2 day days a week and the elliptical 1 day.) For weight training, it varies a bit more, but I tend to switch up weight training routines every 6-8 weeks to give your body time to progress through the workout. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to try a new workout class, exercise or routine more frequently. Again, it’s important to remember that everyone’s goals and body’s are different and that these are general guidelines. Everyone’s individual program may vary.

Am I working out hard enough?

How do you know if you’re working hard enough during your workouts? Rule number one, listen to your body! If you’re getting lightheaded, dizzy or nauseous at all during your workouts or you’re exhausted and overly sore, you need to ease way back. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re not even breaking a little bit of a sweat, you probably need to amp it up a bit!

The easiest measurable way to see how hard you’re working, is to use your age predicted target heart rate zone. (THR). For moderate physical activity, your heart rate should be 40-60%  of your age predicted maximum heart rate for a duration of 30 minutes. For vigorous exercise, your heart rate should be 60-85% of your age predicted maximum heart rate for a duration of  20-25 minutes.

The easiest way to figure out what your heart rate range is:

  • Take 220-age to get your estimated Max HR.  

  • Then you multiply your age predicted Max HR by each percent to get your HR zone

  • EX) 20 year old: 220-20=200 (Age predicted max)

    • Low Range 40% =200 x 0.4=80 / 60%= 200 x 0.6=120

    • High Range 60% =200 x 0.6=120 / 85%= 200 x 0.85=170

    • Moderate Range is 80-120 beats per minute

    • Vigorous Range 120-170 beats per minute

Hope you have fun trying some of these and seeing where you fall and how you can continuously improve!  Remember that these are just a small sample of tests used to assess fitness level and health risk. The only true way to assess your fitness and health is under the supervision and control of a lab or physician’s office. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or to start improving your fitness level today at