The Purpose of Testing

This testing cycle is wrapped up and we are pleased to see the numbers and results put up by those who did take part in the process. Unfortunately, all too many people didn’t take part in the effort. Allison and I will be making some considerations and decisions about future testing efforts since it is a lot of work and stress. We definitely know we have some people who take their fitness, their hard work and the testing process very seriously and want to know about themselves and what they can improve, and we are aware that others freak out and end up taking an ill advised two week break from the gym. Although the process is over, I want to clarify the purpose of testing at CFC.


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We have repeatedly told all clients to take part in the testing process because of the importance it has for the athlete, coaches and gym. The problem is too many people view the tests as a competitive event or they don’t want to be compared to other people. However, that is not the case.

We would like to think the semi-annual testing process is a goal for each client over the course of the year in that they now get to see where their hard work has taken them, what they’ve learned and what skills/movements they need to improve upon. The goal of CrossFit, a General Physical Preparedness program (GPP), is to make people ready for anything at anytime. This means being well-rounded across the board. Run fast, lift heavy, move your body, become mentally stronger and feel better and healthier. There’s always room for improvement, but how do we know what to improve upon if we don’t test it?

The testing process should be the motivation for every workout.  It is the validation of hard work and of the program they are following, provided they aren’t straying off course and trying every stupid Inlaw or other program that comes up like a new pair of underwear, and they are consistent with showing up at the gym.

The testing process is not a “player on player” competitive event. It is meant to provide each client with a marker point of where their current levels of fitness are. The only competition is among clients competing with themselves to better their previous numbers. The tests are designed to show each athlete where their hardwork has paid off, what they are capable of now versus in the past, and what needs improvement to meet their goals in the future. Every client can opt into the entire test(s), or parts of them if there’s something they can’t do for physical reasons (being scared of failure and not trying is not a valid reason). Still, what can be done, should be done.

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The testing process is not only important for the athlete, it is very important for us as a gym. We could just go along our merry way, have no structure to our program and wing it on the belief that everyone is getting better, OR we could verify that what we are doing is indeed working and then design or modify our program to that end. We opt for the latter since we believe people come to CrossFit Centurion and any other true strength & conditioning gym to follow a program that will yield verifiable results and make every penny of your hard earned money worthwhile and well spent. We aren’t snake oil salesmen, pitching something we aren’t sure of, is random or dangerous, we are selling something that works and is systematic and safe. Random and wacky will work to some extent until you get hurt and the gains stop, but I sure as hell wouldn’t pay for it and I would feel like an asshole trying to charge for it and sell it as the way to fly.

Instead, we are client driven and results driven. We want to know that it works or doesn’t, and if not, how can we fix it to make it work and be worthy of your money and our approval. So we test it.

Out of that testing comes validation to the athlete and to us as a gym. If it’s broke, we fix it. If it ain’t, we don’t. Where we see issues or areas that need improvement, we make sure to include them in the programming. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of people begin to get high skill based movements (HSPU, double unders, muscle ups, rope climbs) since we implemented the Skill sessions on Thursdays. I am sure the coaches can feel like a repetitive, broken record and think they are hashing the same thing every few weeks, but the pay off is when clients start to do this stuff in workouts and in testing! Same can be said for the 1RM stuff and the benchmark MetCon workouts where the slow, consistent progression over the training cycle yields higher numbers and faster times on test day or in a competition!

These are more than just numbers to us as a gym. They are a validation and a tool. It allows us not only to make our program better, but also to properly scale and prescribe an athlete into a particular workout. How else will we know what 65% of 1RM back squat is if there are no numbers to work with? In order to do things correctly and scientifically, we need hard data and info. This allows us to make proper scaling decisions and adjustments to each athlete’s loading in a workout or strength session so we get the gains we want and avoid injury.

No one likes tests and everyone gets nervous- I get that. But this isn’t a “point and laugh” session at the end of every test, instead the times and weights are checked out by everyone else and we always hear the “oohs” and “ahhs” from people when they see folks getting new PR’s that were either non-existent before or at a lower number. Everyone is supportive and happy for the others on the whiteboard because they’ve all put in the same sweat equity and pain contribution. Community is forged that way and everyone gets it.

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We will be reviewing the data and the testing process. It may end up we scrap it, do it as a surprise, maybe only do a couple days, or change it to an annual event. I’d hate to see it go by the wayside or be used less by the CFC athletes since it is so important and provides us with many new PR’s, High 5’s, and smiles when we see it all come to fruition. I would urge those of you who didn’t take part, and weren’t gone or dead, to join in future testing events. There’s nothing to be fearful of and in the end, we all benefit from your hard work & contributions!