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Training is simple – the day in, day out grind to get more weight on the bar, shave more seconds off conditioning work and try to get a little better each session. It should be frequent, hard, focused work.
However, training should not be MAXIMAL. For most people, this means “leaving one rep in the tank”. You should feel tired, but not obliterated by training. If you were asked to train a couple of hours later, you should feel that you’d be able to do it. Occasionally, it is okay to train to failure, but doing this too often kills progress.
Testing is less simple. It DOES need to be MAXIMUM EFFORT (if it isn’t, it isn’t really testing…)
Testing should be infrequent. Beginners can test different things every 4-6 weeks. Intermediate athletes need longer between testing bouts – something in the order of 3-4 months, depending on the program. Advanced athletes may only test one or two things (rather than a “battery” of tests), and could be as little as every six months.
The more advanced you get, the more testing takes out of your body and the central nervous system, and subsequently the more recovery you need before heavy training can recommence. Test too often and you spend the rest of your training time recovering from testing (essentially chasing your own tail). Test too infrequently and you have no gauge on progression.
Don’t be afraid to come in and test some of your strength or conditioning levels. You could try anything from a 10-rep back squat for maximum weight through to a 2- or 5km row.