When you’re a beginner, you make vast and obvious gains quickly. And that’s super motivating. But what then? One way to maintain your enthusiasm is to keep track of your progress with regular fitness testing. Fitness tests, contrary to popular belief, do not have to be overly complicated, nor do they need lots of expensive equipment. There are, in fact, several fitness tests you can do that require little more than an assistant, a stopwatch and a pen and paper.
Tracking your fitness levels will allow you to measure and quantify your progress which is very motivating, provides feedback on the success of your workouts and also helps you establish targets to work toward. Test yourself every three-months or so and, providing your training is going well, you should see meaningful improvements from one test to the next. Is there anything better than knowing you’re in better shape than you were and heading toward awesome?
For a fitness test to be reliable, it needs to be applied with consistency. Variation in the performance of a test means the results from one assessment to the next cannot be accurately compared. To ensure your test results are as meaningful as possible, follow these guideline.
- Test yourself on the same day of the week at roughly the same time. Some test scores can be influenced by timing
- For running tests, follow the same route or, if you are using one, use the same treadmill to avoid machine errors
- Postpone your tests if you feel unwell – you results will be skewed of you aren’t feeling your best
- For repetition-based tests, do each rep using identical technique. Make a note of the technique used and do the same exact thing when you repeat the test
- Push yourself hard when testing but stay safe – do not risk an injury by using sloppy technique in an effort to get an extra rep
1.5 MILE RUN TEST
Assessment: Cardiovascular fitness
Equipment: Treadmill, running track, accurately measured 1.5 mile course, stopwatch
Method: After a warm-up, run 1.5 miles as fast as you can. This is a time trial so you should finish the run feeling as though you could not have run any faster. Make a note of your time and compare your result to the chart below. This test may also produce a maximal heart rate score.
|Very poor||> 16:01||> 19:01|
|Superior||< 9:44||< 12:29|
MAXIMUM PUSHUPS TEST
Assessment: Upper body strength & endurance
Method: After a warm up, perform as many pushups as you can in good form, touching your chest to the floor and fully extending your arms each time. You can do this test using full pushups (on your hands and toes) or three-quarter pushups (on your hands and knees) as your fitness level allows. Note, you cannot compare full to three-quarter pushup scores. Rests are allowed but only on fully-extended arms. If you are unable to push yourself off the floor, the test is over. Compare your score to the chart below…
Push Up Test norms for men
|Excellent||> 56||> 47||> 41||> 34||> 31||> 30|
|Very Poor||< 4||< 4||< 2||0||0||0|
Push Up Test norms for women
|Excellent||> 35||> 36||> 37||> 31||> 25||> 23|
ONE MINUTE SIT-UP TEST
Assessment: Core strength & endurance
Equipment: Exercise mat, stopwatch
Method: After a warm-up, lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your temples (and not behind your head) and your toes under a sturdy object. On the command “go!” sit up and touch your elbows to your knees and then lie back down again. Do as many reps in 60-seconds as you can. On completion, compare your score to the chart below…
1 Minute Sit Up Test (Men)
1 Minute Sit Up Test (Women)
VERTICAL JUMP TEST
Assessment: Lower body power
Equipment: Smooth wall, marker pen, tape measure
Method: Stand next to a wall and, with a dab of ink on your index finger, reach up the wall and make a mark as high as you can. Keep your feet flat on the floor. This is your “reach point”. Next, with your index finger re-inked, squat down and then leap up into the air and touch the wall as high up as you can. This is your “jump point”. Repeat the test three times to establish your best jump. Measure the distance between your reach point and your highest jump point and compare on the chart below…
|Excellent||> 28||> 70||> 24||> 60|
|Very good||24 – 28||61-70||20 – 24||51-60|
|Above Average||20 – 24||51-60||16 – 20||41-50|
|Average||16 – 20||41-50||12 – 16||31-40|
|Below Average||12 – 16||31-40||8 – 12||21-30|
|Poor||< 12||< 30||< 8||< 20|
SIT & REACH TEST
Assessment: Lower body flexibility
Equipment: Ruler, step
Method: Warm up then remove your shoes and sit on the floor at the foot of some stairs. Place the ruler on the edge of the stair so the scale is leading away from you. Put your feet flat on the vertical side of the stair and then straighten your legs. Extend your arms, lean forward and slide your fingers down the ruler. Make a note of how far down you reach. Relax and repeat twice more. Compare your best score to the chart below. Note; this test assesses hamstring AND lower back flexibility and the scoring charts below reflect this. If you prefer, you could isolate your hamstrings by keeping your lower back arched but you will not score as well and the result, while arguably more meaningful, will not be covered by the chart.
|Exceptional||> +27||> +10.5||> +30||> +11.5|
|Excellent||+17 to +27||+6.5 to +10.5||+21 to +30||+8.0 to +11.5|
|Good||+6 to +16||+2.5 to +6.0||+11 to +20||+4.5 to +7.5|
|Average||0 to +5||0 to +2.0||+1 to +10||+0.5 to +4.0|
|Fair||-8 to -1||-3.0 to -0.5||-7 to 0||-2.5 to 0|
|Poor||-20 to -9||-7.5 to -3.5||-15 to -8||-6.0 to -3.0|
|Very Poor||< -20||-8.0||< -15||< -6.0|
Method: Remove your shoes and then stand on one leg with your free foot placed against the inside of your calf/knee and your hands on your hips. Rise up onto your tip-toes. Hold this position for as long as possible. If you touch your heel to the floor, your hands come away from your hips or your hips or shoulders twist, the test is over. Repeat the test on the opposite leg and compare to the chart below. NOTE: you can also perform this test with your eyes closed but this is much more challenging and will produce results not covered by the chart. Ideally, your scores on the left and right should be more or less equal.
|Good||40 – 50|
|Fair||10 – 24|
Testing your fitness and working toward increasing it is a great way to maintain exercise motivation. Select tests that are appropriate to your fitness goals and feel free to design your own or search for other, more appropriate tests. Record and store your results for prosperity so that, in the months and years that follow, you can look back and see just how far your fitness has progressed.