How to gauge readiness

Brought to you by

Movement sparks progress. For high-performers, this forward momentum is powered by currents in science, technology, and subculture. To celebrate ASICS' GEL-KAYANO® 25 and GEL-CUMULUS® 20, Furthermore and ASICS have partnered to harness the power of these currents and show you how to channel them into actual results.

Being well-prepared primes you to accomplish your fitness goals. But all too often, people jump into workouts with little to no knowledge of how ready their body is to perform.

Taking the time to assess readiness, on the other hand, can help you craft a better workout, making sure you’re up for the task at hand and allowing you to adjust where necessary.

“There are a number of ways coaches can assess a client’s state of readiness prior to a session,” says Matt Delaney, Equinox’s national manager of innovation. “Depending on what we see, we may increase time for movement prep, focusing more attention on areas that appear to be limited,” he says. “If extra time preparing does not help, we may choose to modify the workout, lowering the intensity or changing movement patterns.”  

Your habits (like how much alcohol you consume and your bedtime rituals), recovery routine, biometrics readings (resting heart rate and blood pressure, for example), and devices that measure heart rate variability (HRV) can all help to deliver a ‘readiness’ score, he notes. 

But the best way to address readiness on your own is using a blended approach: a series of questions and exercises that can help you determine how hard to push yourself in any given session.

The Questionnaire

Answer each question ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Score each ‘yes’ as one point. The lower the score, the less intensely you should train (0 to 5 would suggest a recovery session, 4 to 7 would be a moderately intense session, 7 to 10 would be higher intensity work), says Matt Berenc, director of education at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute. 

• Did you wake up feeling refreshed? 

• Did you sleep 7+ hours last night?

• Did you have fruit at two meals yesterday?

• Did you have vegetables at all meals yesterday?

• Did you eat whole grains at two meals yesterday?

• Did you eat breakfast this morning?

• Have you had/will you have 11-15 cups of water today?

• Do you feel ready to train hard in the workout today?

• Do you feel rested at this moment?

• Are you recovered (i.e. not sore) from prior training?

The Movement Prep

The exercises in the video above, demonstrated by Equinox group fitness instructor Luis Weber, prepare the body for more dynamic work and allow you to check in with how your body feels in a low-threshold environment, says Delaney. “Self-assessing in these patterns can help you identify any areas of restriction.”

For example, if you normally have no issues squatting to full-depth, but notice you can only go three-quarters of the way down, you might add in more prep work (like hip-openers such as plank with hip rotationsalternating crab reaches, or hip-opener skips) before moving on to any planned heavy lifts like back squats. And if you still feel tight and your motion is limited, consider creating a mini circuit out of those warm-up drills and focus on mobility that day rather than hoisting a barbell on your back.  

You’re ready to train hard if you can complete these five moves with good form. Look for decreased range of motion, feelings of stiffness, and compensatory patterns (i.e. if you don’t have stable hips and knees, you may notice your knees collapse inwards during moves like a squat or lunge). Follow Delaney’s guidelines for assessing and adjusting each move below individually. In time, you’ll gain body awareness and get familiar with how you feel on both good and bad days.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Lie with feet flat against a wall in a tabletop position. Place one hand on chest and other on stomach. Take a deep breath in through nose and exhale out through mouth three times. What to look for: Chest and shoulders elevating or the inability to breathe into the abdomen How to adjust: Take more time to establish a good breathing pattern and try a different approach. Place a yoga strap or band around the abdomen, lie on your back and attempt to breathe into the strap.


Lie on left side and support head with a towel. Pull the top leg up to a 90-degree angle and grab knee with arm closest to ground. Bend the bottom leg behind you and grab the ankle with your free arm. If it’s too difficult to grab ankle, use a towel or strap. Once in position, rotate the top shoulder toward the floor, opening your chest to the ceiling. Take two to three breaths and switch sides. 

What to look for: Asymmetries in rotation between right and left sides or areas of accumulated tension in ankles, hips, or thoracic spine How to adjust: Add in movements like clam shell or half-kneeling hip flexor stretch with rotation.

Deep Squat

Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width and arms overhead (regress by holding arms out in front of you). Squat as deep as you can while keeping your arms overhead. Do 5 reps. What to look for: Decreased range of motion in squat depth, stiffness around the ankles, hips, or thoracic spine How to adjust: Foam roll the muscles of the lower legs and glutes, perform lower-threshold movements like the tactical frog stretch (kneel with your knees wider than hip-width apart, hands on the ground under your shoulders. Shift your weight forwards and backwards, feeling a stretch in your inner thighs) or 90/90 rolling hip stretch.

Toe Touch to Standing Extension

Hinge forward at waist, reaching hands toward toes, taking a deep breath at the bottom. Slowly return to a standing position and reach arms overhead as high as you can before returning to start. What to look for: Limited range of motion or stiffness on the back side of the body (from lower leg to top of the head) How to adjust: Foam roll areas of accumulated tension and mix in toe touch regressions first with your heels on a half foam roller and second with your toes on a half foam roller (do 2 sets of 8 each).

High Knees

Bend elbows at 90 degrees and begin to pull one knee at a time up toward chest, landing lightly on the balls of your feet.  What to look for: Lack of or asymmetries in explosiveness, areas of stiffness or tension How to adjust: Try a vibrating foam roller and mix in more fast-paced movements to excite the nervous system. If you still feel like you aren't functioning at your best consider lowering the intensity of your workout.