Constant Variance Fitness Testing

Constant Variance Fitness Testing

Constant Variance and Fitness Testing

On the tails of the Open, the majority of OPEX’s clients are preparing to move into a time of testing.

After a week of programmed recovery and a week of easing back into the gym with bodyweight movements, OPEX’s coaches will be programming a series of tests to gather and assess a baseline of fitness for our clients.

While the Open is typically called a ‘test of fitness’, over the years, it has evolved more and more to a test of ‘show’—who is able to complete the best show of elements and move up the leaderboard.

OPEX’s testing involves a comprehensive assessment of all energy systems

[ATP-PC (high power, short duration), glycolytic (moderate power/short duration), and oxidative (low power/long duration] in order to provide each individual with a baseline for themselves on where they sit, and a launch-board for their coach to program a training program accordingly. Many of these tests include constant variance tests; something that may look like this:

Constant Variance Fitness Test

5 sets, increasing effort per set:

  1. A) 15 Wall balls 20/14# to 10ft
  2. B) 15 Kettlebell Swings 1.5pd/1pd
  3. C) 15 BJSD 24/20″
  4. D) 60 Double Unders
  5. E) 15 Burpees
  6. F) 15 HPS 75/45#

rest 5 min b/t sets – switch order for each set as follows:

Set 1 – ABCDEF
Set 2 – FEDCBA
Set 3 – BFEADC
Set 4 – DAFECB
Set 5 – CDBFAE

As you can see, each set, the order of movements changed, while the movements remained the same.

After conducting a test like this, we are then able to truly see where a person’s fitness for all components of such a workout sits. From their endurance from beginning to end to maintain the same pace throughout each of the five working sets; to their ability to kick up their glycolytic system mid-way through the workout (No matter what components came their way); to the over-powering of the ATP system to start strong out of the gate every time, only to ‘die down’ by the time movements five and six came up.

Testing involves more than just testing the same ‘benchmark’ time and time again. After all, multiple components outside of fitness can more readily come into play (such as ‘learning strategy’, such as placing your barbell closer to the pull-up rig than last time; or knowing that this time on the set of 15’s, you need to go unbroken in order to save yourself a few extra seconds). Constant variance truly places an unknown and unknowable component in each testing item—and forces the client to dig deep and truly give each stand alone test a max effort of their capacity in order to see how that test unfolds.

Assessing and testing, like this, is not something that occurs just occasionally either. Test, then assess, then work on the energy systems or weaknesses presented, then rest, then re-test, then assess, then work, then rest and re-test (and so on) is part of any proper Assessment and Program Design process.

In essence: Gathering raw data that truly displays the energy system(s) you are targeting for a baseline status.

From there, knowing what you know about a client—his or her data—it is then that you are able to ask: How are you then structuring their training program accordingly in order to guarantee improvements and forward progression?

You are a coach—and this is why you are a coach (to help others improve and progress—not stay stagnant).

Otherwise, you are just showing up to the gym, day after day, maybe jotting a few weights down or the number of reps and sets a client did, and flying by the seat of your pants:

Did squats on Monday?

Ok, how about some bench press and pull-ups today?


Goal is to ‘improve your endurance?’

Throw in a little bit of running or some air-dyne in every conditioning piece, and surely the endurance will go up.

No, no, no.

The Assessment and Program Design process is far more involved than that.

As a coach to approximately 40-50 individual clients throughout the year, I keep a log for myself—a spreadsheet—of my clients’ data each time I program a test, such as Constant Variance, into their training protocol. This helps me (not just my clients) to keep a firm grasp on where every client sits (relative to their prior performances), as well as establish a ‘baseline’ of fitness in comparison to others (the ‘general population’).

The bottom line? Five things:

  1. OPEX evaluates data methodically
  2. OPEX pays attention to its clients closely
  3. This type of information is really important to look at
  4. This type of data will truly help athletes improve
  5. Coaches need to look at data like this

Implement constant variance testing. Create a program that meets each individual accordingly. Witness results.


Are you a fitness coach or interested in becoming one?

Helping people reach their goals through exercise and nutrition is a fulfilling experience.

It is also a skill that can be learned.

In just six months, you can become an independent fitness coach, running your own small business and dramatically impacting the lives of those around you.

Sound intriguing?

Sign up for our free Professional Coaching Blueprint today and start your journey.


Fitness Assessments for New Clients