Baseline Benchmarking: 5 Must Do’s

fitness must dos

When you decide it’s time to dive into a fitness program, it’s important to test initial benchmarks and understand your baseline. How does the mobility in your hips compare to your shoulders? Should you focus on improving your cardio-respiratory endurance or developing your body composition? If you don’t assess you baseline and understand your starting point, injury is right around the corner. Additionally, you won’t be able to measure your progress or focus on the goals that really matter to improving your health. It feels good to know that you’re getting closer to your goals. It’s motivating to see change. You have to benchmark it.

  1. Functional Movement Screen:  Developed by Greg Cook, the FMS analyzes your movement in seven fundamental patterns, helping to identify weaknesses and imbalances before they become real issues. This screen will allow you (or your trainer) to decide what types of exercises (strength and flexibility in particular) are most beneficial given your restrictions. By taking the screen, you won’t be going in “blind” to your program and will have the ability to setup specific individualized steps and targeted techniques to improving your movement. At SkyTerra Wellness, we use the FMS system with all our guests before they start our program.
  2. One-Mile Walk/Run:  Enhancing Cardio-Respiratory Endurance increases HDL cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart disease and improves overall quality of life. By making improvements in this area of fitness you will have more energy, stamina and decrease the amount of work your heart has to do at rest. Executing a one-mile walk/run is a perfect way to test your overall CRE because the distance isn’t too far and it’s relatively easy to execute. You’ll want to perform this benchmark in a repeatable environment and at your fastest possible pace without causing risk of injury.
  3. Body Composition Testing:  Too often, people focus on simply dropping the number they see on the scale verses improving their overall body composition. Body composition refers to the amounts of fat, water, and lean mass that make up your total body weight. It is by far more a better indicator of your overall health and an especially important measurement to ensure those who are on a weight-loss program don’t lose critical muscle mass. By developing lean tissue on your way to your goal weight, you’ll turn your body into a fat burning machine and find it’s easier to maintain your weight when you get there. Forms of testing include skin fold calibers, bio-impedience, and hydrostatic weighing.
  4. Baseline Workout: Are you stronger in your upper body or lower body? How about your core? By tackling a baseline workout you’ll be able to uncover all your strengths and weaknesses. Try the SkyTerra Baseline workout, which is comprised of completing as many rounds as possible in five minutes of: 20 squats, 15 sit-ups and 10 push-ups. If participants can’t squat we have them go with sit-to-stands. Unable to do a full range of motion sit-up we scale the movement to flutter kicks. No chance on the push-ups? We go off a box, knees or a doorway. Regardless of where you’re starting from these functional body weight exercises will tell us plenty regarding your fitness needs and allow individuals to see substantial change.
  5. Take Inches: If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Inches (like body composition) are a much better indicator of overall health verses the scale. By focusing on inches, you won’t go crazy over a number. You’ll notice more aesthetic changes in your body and start dropping pant sizes. Fair amounts of people only lose a small amount of weight yet drop lots of inches completely changing how they look and feel.


Overall if you want to get healthy and stay motivated you have to constantly benchmark and re-test your initial baselines. Complete this stuff in the early going and you’ll be well on your way to sustaining and evidencing dramatic changes.