Fitness testing and assessment is an important part of training. There are many different ways of testing your fitness and strength, with some better than others. The dreaded bleep test at school is a classic example of a fitness test and is still used in policing today. Nowadays, chances are your smart watch can track your fitness for you, with many of the newer Garmin watches providing VO2 max testing as well as lactate threshold testing. But you don't need an expensive watch to track your fitness! We've put together some of the best fitness assessments around, why not give one a try and see if you're where you want to be?
The VO2 Max test is a very popular fitness test among runners and triathletes as it is a universal indication of cardiovascular fitness. VO2 max is a rating of your body’s ability to consume oxygen. This is affected by factors such as how adapted your muscles are to exercise and how much blood your heart can pump.
This is the classic scene that you have probably seen in films and TV shows many times.The most accurate VO2 max tests take place in laboratories, whereby participants are given an oxygen mask to wear while running on a treadmill with their effort getting progressively more intense. Oxygen intake is monitored and VO2 max is the point at which oxygen uptake stops increasing. The units of oxygen are then measured per kg of bodyweight and a VO2 max score is calculated.
It is possible to do a VO2 Max test yourself outside of a laboratory. You can do this at the gym on a regular treadmill, all you will need is a stopwatch and a calculator.
How To Perform A VO2 Max Test
- Warm up on the treadmill for 10 minutes by walking and jogging at a gentle speed.
- The test begins at a speed of 8km/h (5mph) and an incline of 0%.
- Start the stopwatch and begin jogging.
- After 3 minutes, adjust the treadmill incline to 2.5%, and then keep increasing by 2.5% every 2 minutes thereafter.
- When you are unable to continue, the test stops.
- Make a note of your time.
- Once you have your time, use the following equation to calculate your VO2 Max:
VO2 Max = (Time x 1.444) + 14.99
Time is calculated in minutes and fractions of minutes, so for example, 13 minutes and 15 seconds would be 13.25 minutes, 13 minutes and 30 seconds would be 13.5 minutes and so on.
Whilst many new smart watches provide VO2 max readings, these are only estimates, as they don’t take into account the measure of ventilation, oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air. While they may be a useful guess, don’t get caught up by the value you’ve been given.
What Does Your VO2 Max Score Mean?
Once you have your score, you'll want to know what it actually means. Use the table below to see how your score rates.
Age Very Poor Poor Fair Good Excellent Superior 13-19 <25 25 - 30 31 - 34 35 - 38 39 - 41 >41 20-29 <24 24 - 28 29 - 32 33 - 36 37 - 41 >41 30-39 <23 23 - 27 28 - 31 32 - 36 37 - 40 >40 40-49 <21 21 - 24 25 - 28 29 - 32 33 - 36 >36 50-59 <20 20 - 22 23 - 26 27 - 31 32 - 35 >35 60+ <17 17 - 19 20 - 24 25 - 29 30 - 31 >31
Age Very Poor Poor Fair Good Excellent Superior 13-19 <35 35 - 37 38 - 44 45 - 50 51 - 55 >55 20-29 <33 33 - 35 36 - 41 42 - 45 46 - 52 >52 30-39 <31 31 - 34 35 - 40 41 - 44 45 - 49 >49 40-49 <30 30 - 32 33 - 38 39 - 42 43 - 47 >48 50-59 <26 26 - 30 31 - 35 36 - 40 41 - 45 >45 60+ <20 20 - 25 26 - 31 32 - 35 36 - 44 >44
As you can see, the higher the reading, the better.
Top VO2 Max Scores
These athletes achieved the highest VO2 Max scores in the world. How does yours compare?
VO2 max (ml/kg/min)
Espen Harald Bjerke
Cross Country Skiing
Cross Country Skiing
Tore Ruud Hofstad
Cross Country Skiing
Cross Country Skiing
Cross Country Runner
Sit and Reach
The sit and reach test uses flexibility as a basis for judging your level of fitness. The test measures the flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings. Tightness in this area is associated with lumbar lordosis, forward pelvic tilt, and lower back pain.
How To Perform A Sit and Reach Test
- Warm up for 10 minutes by doing dynamic stretches.
- You will need a box, a marker, and a ruler/tape measure.
- Sit with your legs outstretched and your feet flat against the front of the box.
- Place the marker (it can be anything, a rubber is probably best) on top of the box at the edge closest to you.
- Keeping your legs dead straight, lean forwards and push the marker along the box as far as you can using your fingertips.
- Once you have pushed the marker, measure how far it went.
What Does Your Sit and Reach Score Mean?
The Vertical Jump Test
The vertical jump is a measure of fitness through explosive power in the legs. The test is really simple to complete, to set up all you need is a wall and a tape measure. Start by getting the participant to stand next to the wall and stretch their closest hand up as far as they can and make a mark of this point. This is the standing height. The participant then leaps as high as they can in the air and touches the wall at the highest point of their jump. The distance from the start point to the highest point is then measure as your score. Take the test 3 times and take an average for the most accurate results.
What Does Your Vertical Jump Score Mean?
Males (height in cm)
Females (height in cm)
Cooper Run Test
The Cooper run test is one of the most popular fitness tests used to determine aerobic endurance. It is also used as part of military training, with different scores being required to make the different role entry requirements. The test lasts just 12 minutes and participants are required to run as far as they can for the entire duration. The test can also be used to measure VO2 max using several equations (in ml/kg/min) from the distance score (a formula for either kms or miles):
VO2 max = (35.97 x miles) - 11.29
VO2 max = (22.35 x kilometers) - 11.29
What Does Your Cooper Run Score Mean?
Very Good (metres)
Male: 2700m +
Male: 2800 +
Male: 2400 +
Female: 2200 +
The Bleep Test
The bleep test is a classic and is often used in school lessons. The test involves 20m shuttle runs from two marked points. The aim is to reach the cone before you hear the bleep. As the test continues, the frequency of the bleeps increases, with the time between getting shorter and shorter. The test requires a recording of the bleep and the score is then measured depending on how many rounds you last.
What Does Your Bleep Test Score Mean?
11 - 13
10 - 12
9 - 11
8 - 10
7 - 9
6 - 8
5 - 7
4 - 6
Whichever test you decide to do, don’t just do it once and leave it at that. In six weeks time, hit it again, and see if your score has improved. Fitness tests are a great way of monitoring your progress and seeing if your training is actually working. Fitness tests make goals measurable and give you a benchmark to aim for. Do you have any other fitness tests that you enjoy doing to measure your fitness?
Claire Steels is a professional duathlete and has a World Champion title to her name. She gives Sundried a snapshot of a training session along with all the stats and data so you can see what it's really like to train as a pro.
2 x (10 x 10 seconds effort : 50 seconds recovery)
The majority of the training I have done on the bike is for TT (time trial) type efforts, however as I am looking to move into road racing I need to develop a bit more explosive power.
This sessions was aimed at developing such power and improving my sprint speed.
Short, sharp efforts with a longer recovery sounds okay, but by the end of the set the 50 seconds recovery feels far too short!
I did this session on the Wattbike and then uploaded the data to Strava.
The screenshots attached show my speed, heart rate and then the last shot shows speed, heart rate, power and cadence.
Speed, power and cadence are fairly consistent across all of the efforts, although they drop a little towards the end. Heart rate spikes for each of the efforts but also gradually increases across the whole session.
I find sessions like this challenging and frustrating but in a strange way it means I enjoy them more! Weird I know!