8 tests to see how fit you really are: Strength, endurance, speed and mobility

Test yourself against the most popular measurements used by athletes and coaches
8 tests to see how fit you really are

'Being fit' is a term used in many ways but measuring how fit you actually are is largely dependent on the activities you do. That's when you need to use a recognized fitness test.

We humans tend to gravitate towards things we’re good at, particularly when it comes to ticking the weekly exercise box. After all, it’s much easier – and frankly more rewarding – to spend an hour a day sweating at an activity you have talent for than struggling over something you suck at. But getting stuck doing the same thing week in, week out could mean you’re less ‘fit’ than you really think.

Ask any CrossFit competitor – the sport that claims the crown of the world’s fittest people – and they’ll tell you there’s more to all-round fitness than being able to run or ride fast in a straight line, do dozens of burpees or deadlift your bodyweight. And as you move into older age it’ll be no good being able to do a sub-25 minute parkrun if you can’t put your own socks on.

So how do you spot the areas that might need improvement? We’ve pulled together a set of simple fitness tests you can take to benchmark the most important areas: strength, endurance, speed and mobility. Time to see how fit you really are.

Harvard Step Test

What it reveals: General cardio fitness based on your ability to recover after a strenuous exercise.

Take the test: Take your resting pulse rate, arm up for 10 mins, then perform step-ups onto a 50cm platform at a consistent rate of 30 steps per minute for five minutes or until exhaustion. Use a metronome to keep time (you can download simple metronome apps or some fitness trackers have this feature built-in).

Exhaustion is when you’re unable to maintain the stepping rate for 15 seconds.

At the end of the test, you immediately sit down and record the number of heartbeats in the 30-second intervals between 1 and 1.5 minutes, 2 and 2.5 minutes, and 3 and 3.5 minutes.

Calculating your results: Results are calculated using the total time it took you to reach exhaustion in seconds, multiplied by 100 and then divided by the sum of the heartbeats in the recovery periods multiplied by two.

Formulae: Test duration in seconds x 100) / (Sum of heartbeats in the recovery periods x 2)

How fit are you?

Excellent

96 or above

Good

83 - 96

Average

68 - 82

Low Average

54 - 67

Poor

54 or below

Note: The results have been shown to have a close correlation to VO2 Max in studies, so this is a useful test you can do without a lab to estimate your VO2 Max.

Find out more

The Bleep Test

What it reveals: This test is used to estimate an athlete's aerobic capacity, a measure of the ability of the heart and lungs to get oxygen to the muscles during all-out, maximal exercise.

Take the test: Place two markers 20 meters apart and then perform continuous shuttle runs between the markers, reaching each point before a timed beep. The beeps increase in speed every minute to indicate a new level. If you fail to reach a marker in time you’re given one warning.

The test is complete if you fail to hit the mark before the beep for a second time.

Calculating your results: The standard Bleep Test has 21 levels in total. Record the last level completed.

How fit are you?


Men

Women

Excellent

13 or above

12 or above

Very good

11- 13

10 - 12

Good

9 - 11

8 - 10

Average

7 - 9

6 - 8

Poor

5 - 7

4 - 6

Very poor

5 or below

4 or below

Note: You can also use Beep Test score calculators to get a pretty good estimate of your VO2 Max.

The Push-Up Test

What it reveals: This simple test reveals your upper body fitness with a close look at muscular strength and endurance for chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps. These are crucial for many sports but also for everyday life activities.

Take the test: After a short warm-up, get into the standard push-up position on hands and toes with hands shoulder-width apart and your elbows fully extended. From here drop down until your elbows reach 90 degrees, while maintaining the straight line up your body from toes to head, then return to the start position. Repeat this until you lose form or you fail to complete a full repetition.


Calculating your results: Simply log the number of full, complete repetitions.

How fit are you?

Men

Age: 20-29

Age: 30-39

Age: 40-49

Age: 50-59

Age: 60+

Excellent

54 or more

44 or more

39 or more

34 or more

29 or more

Good

45-54

35-44

30-39

25-34

20-29

Average

35-44

24-34

20-29

15-24

10-19

Poor

20-34

15-24

12-19

8-14

5-9

Very Poor

20 or fewer

15 or fewer

12 or fewer

8 or fewer

5 or fewer

Women

Age: 20-29

Age: 30-39

Age: 40-49

Age: 50-59

Age: 60+

Excellent

48 or more

39 or more

34 or more

29 or more

19 or more

Good

34-48

25-39

20-34

15-29

5-19

Average

17-33

12-24

8-19

6-14

3-4

Poor

6-16

4-11

3-7

2-5

1-2

Very Poor

6 or fewer

4 or fewer

3 or fewer

2 or fewer

1 or fewer

Find out more

1 Rep Max Test (1RM) Strength Test

What it reveals: You can do one rep max tests for everything from bench press, squat and deadlift to bicep curls, shoulder press, leg curl and so on. This is used to reveal the muscle strength of a targeted muscle or muscle group.

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Take the test: After a warm up, choose an achievable weight for your target exercise and perform one rep. Following several minutes rest to avoid fatigue, increase the weight and repeat. Continue until you reach a weight where you can no longer complete one full rep or the exercise with correct form.


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Calculating your results: Make a note of the maximum weight.

How fit are you?

One Rep Max tests are best used to benchmark your personal progress and fitness improvement over time, however, there are online calculators that let you compare your performance to others with similar bodyweight.

Find out more

Flying 30 Meter Speed Test

What it reveals: This test reveals your maximum running speed and can be used to set target interval times for running speed work across 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m.

Take the test: Place markers at 0m, 30m and 60m along a straight line, ideally on a running track but otherwise on a flat surface. After a short warm up, start on the 0m mark and use the first 30m section to power yourself sprinter-style, aiming to hit top speed when you hit the 30m marker. Maintain that speed to the 60m marker and record the time it takes to run the second 30m section. Repeat this test twice and record the fastest time.

Six tests to reveal how fit you really are

Calculating your results: The fastest of the two times from the 30m marker to the 60m marker is your test result.

How fit are you?

Unless you have your sights set on Olympic sprint glory and you fancy seeing how you compare to the elites, this test is best used as an individual benchmark as there’s not much data for the average public to draw useful comparisons.

Testing this 8-12 weeks apart after a period of training will help you see if you’re improving.

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Balance Star Excursion Test

What it reveals: This test can be used to assess your dynamic posture control, that’s how well you can maintain a good center of gravity and balance when you move. This can be a good indicator or mobility but it can also reveal injuries, for example, if one score comes up significantly lower than on previous tests.

Take the test: Lay down four 120cm lengths of marking tape in a star or asterisk formation on the floor. The lines should be placed at 45-degree angles with each piece of tape intersecting in the middle.

With bare feet or socks but no shoes, stand on one foot on the center of the star with your hands on hips. Then reach with one foot as far as you can along one line while keeping your standing foot completely flat on the floor.

The reaching foot should tap the floor lightly and where it touches should be marked. Repeat for each line and complete a full circuit. Do this test three times.

The reaching foot must not touch down too heavy and return to the center each time. The standing leg must not also not move.

Calculating your results: Once the three circuits are complete, all the distances reached to the nearest half centimeter are recorded. Calculate the average distance in each direction.

How fit are you?

Another test that’s designed to provide you with a benchmark score that you can monitor, this would also highlight any areas for concern. For example, if one reach is significantly lower than the score with the opposite leg, this could suggest there’s an issue.

Find out more

Sit and Reach Test

What it reveals: This simple assessment measures lower back and hamstring flexibility, a great indicator of overall mobility.

Take the test: You can buy specialized equipment but it’s easy to make your own test box or you can create the same conditions using your home stairs and a ruler. To create your own box, get a 30cm tall box and either a meter rule or a measuring tape. Fix the tape or the rule so that 26cm extends over the front edge of the box towards you and the 26-cm mark is at the edge of the box.

Slip off your shoes and sit in a position as if you’re going to do a seated hamstring stretch, with your feet flat against the box. Lean forward slowly, keeping your legs straight and reach as far along the ruler as you can. Mark where you rach on the tape and repeat the test three times.


Calculating your results: Get your results by taking an average of your three test scores in centimeters.

How fit are you?


Men

Women

Excellent

Above 34

Above 37

Above average

28 - 34

33 - 36

Average

23 - 27

29 - 32

Below average

16 - 22

23 - 28

Poor

Below 16

Below 23

Find out more

Vertical Jump Test

What it reveals: This test is all about revealing your explosive leg power.

Take the test: Find a high wall outside where you have plenty of room to jump and land. Stand shoulder against the wall and with the arm nearest the wall, reach up and touch as high as you can. Mark that as your standing reach.

Moving slightly away from the wall to allow room to jump, leap as high as you can and touch the wall at the top of the jump. You can hold a piece of chalk to make your mark as you jump.

You can repeat the jump test as many times as you like to find the best technique to help you achieve the maximum height.


Calculating your results: Simply measure the distance between your standing reach and your jump reach for your result.

How fit are you?


Men (cm)

Women (cm)

Excellent

Above70

Above60

Very good

61-70

51-60

Above average

51-60

41-50

Average

41-50

31-40

Below average

31-40

21-30

Poor

Below 30

Below 20

Find out more

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