DPT-303-PT Essentials – Health & Fitness Testing

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Static Testing & Dynamic Testing

As part of the fitness & health appraisal, the personal trainer will need to carry out certain assessments as standard practice. This is in assiteion to the medical screening consultation and/or PARQ.


Conducting static tests provides important information regarding the client’s current health status. Test results will dictate the outcome. The following static tests can be administered; however, careful attention must be paid to the order of test administration as inappropriate order will lead to inaccurate results.

  • Resting heart rate (RHR)
  • Blood pressure (BP)
  • Body composition
    • Skinfold
    • Bio-impedance
  • Circumference measurements
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Lung function
    • Microspirometry
    • Peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR)

Attention should be given to test order and test appropriateness and will be discussed in further detail.

Dynamic Testing (Physical Fitness)

Informed consent:

Client consent must be obtained prior to testing physical fitness. Consent can be obtained by administering a standard disclaimer. Its purpose is to explain the purpose and nature of each fitness test, the risks involved and the benefits expected from each test.

In addition, the PT should read through the informed consent form with the client and then ask the client if they have any questions. Finally, both parties must sign the form before carrying on. This ensures that the client is fully aware that participating is entirely voluntary. A sample ‘informed consent’ form is given in the appendices at the end of this unit (appendix 2, 6).

Purpose of testing physical fitness:

The purpose of testing physical fitness is to establish a client physical fitness profile. Each test allows the PT to assess a specific component of physical fitness and record the client’s strengths and weaknesses (Heyward, 1998). Data from specific tests is assessed against standard reference tables for each component of physical fitness. Current fitness baselines are then established, which are then used to write a client specific exercise programme. 

Physical fitness tests include:

  • Power
    • Vertical jump (VJ)
    • Standing broad jump (SBJ)
    • Triple jump (TJ)
  • Muscular strength
    • Hand-grip dynomanameter
    • 1RM
    • Estimated strength
  • Muscular endurance
    • Sit-up
    • Press-up
    • Lateral muscular
    • Back extension 
    • Battery
  • Cardiorespiratory
    • Velocity at VOmax (vVO2max)
    • Balke treadmill
    • Multistage fitness
    • Cooper 1.5-mile run
    • Cooper 3-mile walk
    • Cooper 12-minute swim
    • Queens College step test
  • Range of movement (ROM)
    • soleus and gastrocnemius
    • hamstring
    • rectus femoris
    • adductors
    • illiopsoas
    • pectoralis major
    • latissimus dorsi

Principles of Health and Fitness Appraisal

Test appropriateness:

Select tests that match the needs, goals and capabilities of the client. Not all tests are suitable for all clients. For example, a previously sedentary client will need to develop cardiorespiratory fitness. Selecting a test such as the vertical jump test (VJT) would be totally inappropriate and potentially high risk. In this case, since fitness levels are low a submaximal cardiorespiratory test would be more suitable. Conversely, for advanced clients participating in team sports such as netball and basketball, a sub-maximal test would be unsuitable, whereas the VJT would be most relevant.

Test validity and reliability:

To accurately assess the client’s health and fitness status, tests should be selected that are valid, reliable and objective (Heyward, 1998).  The following test guidelines should be followed to ensure test validity and reliability.e

  • Equipment -equipment used should be of good quality, regularly inspected and well maintained
  • client -before testing begins, clients should be instructed to follow a series of guidelines or pre-test procedures.  It is imperative for test accuracy and thus validity that the trainer ensures each client arrives in a ‘neutral state’ (variables reduced to a minimum). Failure to do this will void the test. This can be achieved by listing the pre-test procedures on the back of an appointment card to be handed to the client on the initial booking. Be sure the client has followed the guidelines prior to testing. Consider the following:
  • consumption:
    • avoid heavy meals less than three hours prior to the test
    • avoid drinking excessive alcohol during the day before the test and altogether on the day of the test
    • avoid drinking coffee, tea, cola or any caffeinated beverage two hours prior to the test
    • avoid smoking for at least two hours prior to the test
  • action:
    • avoid exercising or any form of strenuous physical activity on the day of the test
    • have a good night’s sleep the evening before the test
    • avoid using a jacuzzi, sauna or sunbed less than two hours prior to the test
  • Medical:
    • avoid or cancel the assessment if you have a temperature or feel unwell
    • bring with you any current medication e.g. inhalers
  • Clothing:
    • wear appropriate clothing i.e. trainers
  • timing 
    • time of day can influence the results since client temperature, hydration levels and activity levels change throughout the day. A female client’s phase of menstrual cycle can influence the accuracy of results due to fluctuation in body temperature and fluid levels. If possible, the time of day should be kept constant. If not, this must be recorded and taken into account.
  • environment 
    • temperature (and humidity) affects the heart rate response to exercise. Ideally, environmental factors should be kept constant from one assessment to another. If this is not possible, temperature should at least be recorded and taken into account.


Customer service: 

The highest levels of professional service should be demonstrated at all times throughout the appraisal process. Good duty of care involves informing the client of the sensations and feelings to be felt with each test and making sure the client is comfortable at all times. Refer to the trainer code of ethics for working practices.

Indications for Stopping Testing

During test administration PTs must stay vigilant at all times. Tests should be stopped immediately and clients referred for the following circumstances: 

  • onset of angina-like symptoms
  • significant drop (20mmhg) in systolic blood pressure or a failure of the systolic blood pressure to rise with an increase in activity
  • excessive rise in blood pressure: systolic pressure >260 mmHg or diastolic pressure >115 mmHg
  • signs of poor perfusion: light-headedness; confusion; ataxia; pallor; cyanosis; nausea; or cold, clammy skin
  • failure of the heart rate to increase with increased exercise intensity
  • noticeable change in heart rhythm
  • client requests to stop
  • physical or verbal manifestations of severe fatigue
  • failure of the testing equipment

General indications for stopping exercise testing low-risk adults (ACSM, 2001)


Client/trainer agreement:

This is a finalised agreement between client and trainer detailing the working practices and responsibilities associated with both parties (appendix 4). Details should include the service being offered, the parties involved, a working time line (i.e. 3, 6 months or longer), the costs and payment process and finally details of cancellation. Read the agreement to the client and ask if they have any questions. Finally, both parties are to sign. This will ensure clarity on both sides, which is fundamental for a professional relationship.

Goals inventory:

This allows the PT to identify the client’s objectives and their current levels of motivation. Knowing a client’s goals allows the trainer to adopt the most appropriate strategy. For example, test selection and the style of communication. In addition, goals give focus and increase motivation. 

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