Fitness tests can be devised to test all aspects of fitness, providing the test follows fitness testing principles. The following are examples of simple fitness tests which can easily be reproduced away from a lab and measure strength, power, anaerobic endurance, local muscular endurance, aerobic endurance, flexibility, balance, reaction time and body composition.
Strength fitness tests
These tests measure maximum strength.
One Rep Max
- The heaviest weight you can lift for a single repetition, on a given exercise. Often abbreviated to 1RM.
- Ten rep max can also be used. Ensure you are fully warmed up prior to attempting to lift your estimated 1RM.
- If you feel you could have lifted more, do not attempt to do so on the same day as your muscles will be fatigued and so reduce the reliability of the test.
Speed fitness tests
These fitness tests measure pure speed.
- Acceleration must be eliminated and so a flying start of 20m is recommended.
- Record the time between metres 20 and 50.
Vertical jump test
- Stand sideways on to a wall with the arms raised above you, mark the highest point you can reach.
- Still standing sideways, jump as high as you can, marking the point you can reach.
- Your score is the difference between your standing and jumping score.
- This test measures the power in your leg muscles.
Standing Long Jump
- Start behind a starting line, jump from two feet and land on two feet as far as possible.
- You may use your arms to aid you.
Local muscular endurance
These tests measure strength endurance of specific muscle groups.
- Perform as many press-ups as you can without rest.
- This test measures the endurance of your upper body muscles.
- As above, repeated as many sit-ups as possible without rest.
- Make sure you define before-hand what counts as a sit-up!
- This process of fatiguing a muscle (or muscle group) to measure its endurance can be repeated with any body part.
Anaerobic endurance tests
These tests measure running speed endurance.
RAST (Running-based Anaerobic Sprint Test)
- Following a 10- minute warm-up, 6 x 35m sprints are performed, with 10 seconds in-between for rest and turn-around.
- Each sprint time is recorded.
- Following tests are expected to produce faster times for each of the sprints.
Cunningham and Faulkner test
- Following a warm-up, set the treadmill at 8 miles/hr and a 20% gradient.
- The athlete must start standing either side of the belt and begin the test by getting on the belt at full speed.
- The test is stopped when the athlete cannot continue.
These tests measure how aerobically fit an individual is.
- Following a 10-minute warm-up, run as far as you can in 12 minutes.
- Record the distance travelled to the closest 100m.
Multi-Stage Fitness Test (Bleep Test)
- For this test, you need a bleep test tape or cd which has recorded ‘bleeps’ at pre-determined intervals.
- The participants must run between 20m markers, in time with the tape.
- The beeps get faster as the tape progresses and is divided into stages to help monitor your progress at subsequent tests.
- The test finishes when you can no longer reach the end marker before the bleep.
These tests measure muscle flexibility and joint range of motion.
Sit & Reach
- To assess the flexibility of the hamstrings. You will need either a special sit & reach table or a bench and ruler/tape measure.
- Start with your feet flat against the table and your knees straight. Reach your arms as high as possible above your head and then lead forwards, to reach as far along the bench/table as possible.
- The furthest point your fingertips reach is your score.
- A specialist table has an overhang of 15cm and so if using a bench and ruler, a score of 10cm equals 25cm.
Calf muscle flexibility test
- Stand facing a wall and bend the knees to touch the wall whilst keeping the heels flat on the floor.
- Keep moving back to find the furthest distance away from the wall where you can still touch the wall with your knees.
- Measure the distance from the wall to the heel.
- Using a wobble board or cushion, balance for as long as possible.
- Tests can be conducted on one leg, or both as long as subsequent tests are the same.
- Stand on one leg with the free foot positioned just below the standing knee.
- Raise the heel of the standing foot and hold for as long as possible.
This test measures how fast an individual can react to a stimulus.
Ruler drop test
- Using a metre ruler (or a 30cm one), get a friend to hold the ruler so that the 0cm line is level with and in-between your open index finger and thumb.
- The friend drops the ruler and you must catch it as soon as possible, between your finger and thumb.
- The cm mark on the ruler closest to the top of the thumb is your score.
- The faster your reaction, the less of the ruler will pass through!
- Top tip for doing well on this one…. watch the fingers of the person dropping the ruler, not the ruler. The fingers will always move faster than the ruler.
These tests estimate how much lean and fat mass the body is made up of.
Skin Fold Callipers
- These can be used to determine the percentage of body fat an athlete has.
- It involves taking four (or sometimes 6) measurements from the biceps, triceps, suprailiac (just above the pelvis bone on the back) and subscapular (just below the shoulder blade).
- These 4 measurements can then be calculated to give an estimate of the total percentage of body fat.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis
- This is a potentially more accurate method of measuring (estimating) body fat percentage.
- Two Electrodes are placed on a hand and the foot on the same side, with the subject laying down.
- A safe electrical current is passed through the body.
- The speed of the current in moving from hand electrodes to the foot determines body fat percentage as fat is an insulator and slows down the movement of the current