Movement
Centr Team

4 fitness tests to predict how strong you’ll age

Centr Team

Are you on track to be fighting fit in your 70s and beyond?

Find out with four quick fitness tests you can take in your living room right now.

Even if you think old age is a long way off, attributes such as strength, balance and power are all markers for living an active and healthy life. Given falls are the leading cause of injury (including death) in the 65 and older age group, it makes sense to start building a stronger future now, doesn’t it?

1. Sit-to-stand test

What does it test? Lower-body mobility and functional core strength – both crucial for maintaining mobility and preventing falls as you age.

The ability to go from lying on the floor to standing without using your hands is hugely important as you age, as it allows you to get yourself up and call for help if you do fall and suffer an injury.

A series of three photos of Centr trainer Luke Zocchi demonstrating the sit-to-stand exercise.
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How do I do it? You can attempt this move at different levels of difficulty, depending on your confidence and strength. Firstly, lie flat on your back on a workout mat. If you’re a beginner, as you sit up, cross one leg under your butt and use that leg to leverage yourself up. Then reverse the move to lie back down.

Remember, no using your hands! Holding your arms out in front of your body as you rise up will reduce the temptation to use your hands and help keep you balanced.

If you’re feeling a little more confident, cross one foot in front of the other as you sit up, then push from your feet to stand. And if you’re feeling strong and capable, as you sit up, bring both heels back onto the floor beneath your butt and push upward in a sumo squat motion.

How do I improve? Our Functional Movement Challenge is designed to improve your ability to do this movement and many more everyday essentials. If you’d prefer one-off sessions instead of a 6-week program, make sure you select sessions that focus on improving core strength and hip mobility – Tahl’s Dynamic Yoga is great for this.

2. The 30-second power test

What does it test? This is a measure of your power, AKA the ability to apply rapid force, which is crucial for staying mobile.

All you need to do is count how many times you can go from sitting to standing – without using your hands – in 30 seconds.

  • Under 65? Women should be able to complete at least 15 in 30 seconds; men at least 17.
  • Over 65? Women should be able to do 11 or more in 30 seconds; men 12 or more.

A series of three photos of Centr trainer Luke Zocchi demonstrating the 30-second power test, rising from and sitting down on a chair.
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How do I do it? Select a chair with a straight back and no armrests. Sit in the chair, feet flat on the floor, and cross your arms over your chest, resting your hands on your shoulders. Using a timer set for 30 seconds, stand up, then sit down, repeating this movement as often as you can until the time elapses. Count how many times you can move from sitting to standing.

How to improve: If your score is coming in lower than the numbers mentioned above, it’s a sign you’re low on power. Our 6-week Centr Circuit: Elevate program will help to increase your explosive power by boosting cardio fitness and building functional strength and flexibility. It includes low-impact modifications to keep you moving.

3. The hang test

What does it test? Your grip strength, which is often used as a marker of longevity because it is a quick way to assess strength and vitality elsewhere in the body. Poor grip strength is associated with a range of serious health issues, as well as increased recovery time if you face an injury or health complications.

Your ability to ‘dead hang’ can vary with not just age, but experience, strength and size. As a guide, we suggest aiming for:

  • Beginner – 10-15 seconds

  • Intermediate – 20-30 seconds

  • Advanced – 45+ seconds

The ultimate goal is to achieve a hang time of 60 seconds, but it’s okay if you need to build yourself up to it.

Centr trainer Luke Zocchi demonstrates the hang test, hanging from a chin-up bar.
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How do I do it? You’ll need a gym or a sturdy pull-up bar at home for this one. Grip the bar (overhand) with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Engage your core, then bend at the knees to lift your feet off the floor. Hold for as long as you can.

How to improve: Lifting weights is the best way to develop pure muscular strength and increase your hang time, so a dedicated muscle-building program is the way to go. To maximize your muscle mass, go with Centr Power at the training level that’s right for you. If you want to cut fat while building muscle, opt for Power Shred.

With both of these programs, you can choose to train at home or in the gym.

4. The balance test

What does it test? Your balance, which is key to preventing falls and keeping you moving as you age. But that’s not all – because balance and brain function are linked, balance training can actually improve your cognitive health.

Researchers have found that people who are unable to stand on one leg for 10 seconds are twice as likely to die in the next 10 years, of any cause.

A pair of photos of Luke Zocchi looking straight ahead as he balances on one foot and puts his sock, or shoe, on the other foot.
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How do I do it? Stand tall in bare feet. As a starter test, put your hand on your hips and lift one foot off the floor so you’re standing on one leg. Without leaning against anything or using your hands to steady yourself, see how long you can stay balanced before returning your foot to the floor.

Britain’s NHS suggests the following targets:

  • If you’re 39 or under, you should be able to manage at least 43 seconds.
  • If you’re 40-49, you should be able to hold it for 40 seconds.
  • At 50-59 years of age, you should be capable of 37 seconds.
  • If you’re 60-69, you should be able to balance for 30 seconds.
  • When you reach 70-79, you should be capable of hitting 18-19 seconds.

For a more advanced test, lift one foot off the floor, then attempt to put a sock and shoe on that foot, and tie your laces, without returning your foot to the floor. Then repeat on the other side.

How to improve: To improve balance, unilateral exercises (that work one side at a time) should be a regular part of your training. The Functional Movement Challenge will help you build mobility, stability, coordination and stamina for a more balanced body.

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