Measuring Fitness

In my physical education classes, my students are forced to go through a number of fitness tests. The students will usually perform the tests at the beginning and end of the semester in order to track their improvement.   Hopefully by the end of the semester the students are able to make progress in at least one component of fitness.

These Tests Help Everyone

If you are just starting a brand new fitness program or just happen to be curious to see what your true fitness level is, you should submit to a professional round of fitness testing. Here is a list of the most widely-used fitness tests:

1.  Push ups (max reps)

2.  Maximum number of situps in a minute

3.  How many reps of chin-ups can you do?

4.  Sit and reach (distance stretched)

5.  The BEEP TEST!  This test is perhaps the best indicator of your individual fitness level.

While the “beep test” is considered by many to be the most fears, the other tests on this list will check out muscular endurance, flexibility and overall muscular strength.   You might be able to fool your old gym teacher with sloppy push ups or sit-ups, but you are exposed on the beep test, because it is pretty difficult to cheat, and easy to spot the cheaters. 

What is the Beep Test?

The Beep Test is a multi-level fitness assessment that is designed to measure your cardiovascular fitness.  It has been found to be a well-designed, effective and lower-cost substitute to submitting to more expensive lab tests, such as the Vo2 max, which measures that max amount of oxygen that your body uses during maximum exercise for a 1 minute period.  The test is nearly impossible to complete, however there are unconfirmed rumors of various athletes that have beat the test, most notably Lance Armstrong and David Beckham.  Most sports teams won’t publish their teammates’ results of this test with good reason.  While many professional sports teams use this test, they rarely publish the results, because releasing a low score for a player like Cristiano Ronaldo for example could make the player of team look bad. 

Who uses it?

Due to the fact the beep test is meant to show you how well you can hold up with intense exercises, it is intended to show employers or athletes just how well they can perform, in order to be hired or join a team. This is list of some of the types of organizations that use the beep test:

* National Sports Teams

* National Sports Teams

* Military Forces

* Law Enforcement and Police

How can you try the test?

In order to do the beep test, a CD or audio track in the gym would be ideal, so that the environment can be controlled. If you do not have gym access, here are some tips to help you set the test up in another type of setting.

 Suggested Equipment  

  • A surface that is flat and does not slip
  • Measuring tape, stretching 20 meters
  • Pylons, which will be placed at each end of the measuring tape.
  • Chalk (alternative means to measure the distance)
  • Ipod or other mp3 device

 How to perform test

  • Start at one end of the tape; wait for instructions from your headphones!
  • Once you hear the sound of the beep, move quickly to the other end of the starting line.
  • Repeat until you can no longer go
  • If you miss the beep on two consecutive occasions you are finished
  • **you must wait until you hear the beep until you can proceed from one end to the other **
  • Your beep test score is determined by what level you were at when you stopped or failed.

The reason you want a high beep test score is that is correlates well with Vo2 levels.  According to some research, you can burn fat more efficiently if you have a high Vo2 Max score. Athletes with a great physical condition can get high beep test scores and have low body fat.

A report that was published by USA Today stated that if you have a high Vo2 Max level you will also have the ability to burn more fat following a period of physical exercise.  This is extremely valuable information because there are ways to improve your Vo2 Max.

If you want to boost those levels, you should invest in HIIT Training. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and is now incorporated into most of today’s fitness workout routines. With it, your afterburning can go longer, and your will produce more HGH, giving you a higher fat burning capacity.

Beyond the HIIT basics, there are some strategies that you can employ to get the most out of your training. Longer intervals of HIIT training will help you to increase your Vo2 Max levels much faster. For example, if you start your workout week doing longer interval periods of training at a slower speed, and then move toward a shorter interval period of training by the end of the week that focuses on high intensity sprints, you will see a big improvement. However, it is important to be careful and not overdo it.

Sample Interval Plan

Note: You can switch out walking and running for any other activity, such as swimming, elliptical or cycling.

Monday – 3x 8 minute runs

Tuesday 6x 4 minute runs

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Do 10 rounds of a 2 minute run followed by a 2 minute walk.

Friday – Do 10 high intensity rounds of a 30 second sprint run followed by a 20 second walk.