Testing Fitness

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Testing Fitness

Careful measurements of fitness can help to improve performance and ability.

Below are some of the tests that are used to measure different elements of health-related fitness and skills-related fitness.

To measure speed the time taken to do a short sprint of between 30-50m is taken. Runs any longer than this will bring in the element of muscular endurance.

The Harvard Step Test

This test measures a person's cardiovascular fitness by determining how long it takes to recover and bet back to their normal pulse rate.

Pulse rate should be counted over 15 seconds and multiplied by 4.


  1. Bench 50cm high.
  2. Stopwatch.
  3. Metronome with 2 second intervals.


  1. Take resting pulse twice and record the lowest score.
  2. The test requires a person to step up and down on the bench/box for five minutes at a rate of 30 steps per minute.
  3. After five minutes the person sits down and the pulse is taken a 6, 7 and 8 minutes.
  4. Write down the pulse rate at each interval.


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Ratings for Harvard Step Test
  High Above average Average Below average Low
Male 15-16 years Above 90 90-80 79-65 64-55 Below 55
Female 15-16 years Above 86 86-76 75-61 60-50 Below 50

Multistage Fitness Test (Bleep Test)

This was developed by the National Coaching Foundation (NCF) and is now widely used by schools and colleges.

It measures VO2 Max.


  1. A firm surface with lines marked 20 metres apart.
  2. A tape player with good volume.
  3. The NCF tape and tables for scoring.


  1. Instructions are given at the start of the tape, which also identifies the signals for a change of pace.
  2. At the start the subject runs slowly from one line to the next. The pace must be judged so as the person puts one foot over the line as the beep is sounded.
  3. This is repeated a number of times, and then the time between the beeps is shortened requiring a faster pace.
  4. There are twenty-five levels with the time being reduced each level.
  5. When the person can no longer keep up the pace, by arriving at the line after the beep they drop out.
  6. The levels are recorded and fitness is checked against the tables.

There are several tests for different parts of the body.

The NCF sit up test measures abdominal strength.

Grip strength is measured by a handgrip dynamometer.

Explosive strength can be measured in one of two ways: the standing broad jump or the sargant jump.

The Sargant jump

This is a standing vertical jump, which tests muscular power.


  1. A vertical jump board or chalk.
  2. A flat wall.
  3. Metre rules.


  1. The subject stands with both feet against the wall and stretches hands as high as possible while keeping heels firmly on the ground.
  2. The height is marked.
  3. The fingers of one hand are dipped in chalk and the subject stands side on to the wall.
  4. With a slight flex of the legs and the swing of the arms, the subject jumps and touches the wall as high as possible.
  5. The distance between the two marks is measured with a metre rule.
  6. The best of three jumps is recorded.

Ratings for Sargant Jump Test
  High Above average Average Below average Low
Male 15-16 years Above 65cm 65-56 cm 55-50cm 49-40cm Less than 40cm
Female 15-16 years Above 60cm 60-51cm 50-41cm 40-35cm Less than 35cm

The Sit and Reach Test

This measures the flexibility at the hip joint, which is generally restricted in movement by the hamstring in the back of the leg.


  1. A sit and reach box.
  2. A metre rule.


  1. After a good warm up, bare feet are placed against the edge of the box with the backs of the legs in contact with the floor.
  2. The subject then reaches slowly down the box with both hands, fingers out stretched as far as possible and the distance is recorded.
  3. The best of three scores is taken.

Ratings for Sit and Reach Test
  High Above average Average Below average Low
Male 15-16 years Above 28cm 28-24cm 23-20cm 19-17cm Less than 17cm
Female 15-16 years Above 35cm 35-32cm 31-30cm 29-25cm Less than 25cm

The Illinois Agility Run is used to test a person's agility.

The Stork Stand is used to test a person's balance.

The Alternative Hand Wall Throw is used to test a person's co-ordination.

The Ruler Drop Test is used to test a person's reaction time.

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