Fitness Testing

Fitness test: Those two dreaded words which seem to send chills down the spine of most individuals – whether this is in relation to P.E at school, pre-season training or as a requirement for your job. One of the most common forms of fitness testing utilised is called the multi stage fitness test, more commonly known as the bleep test. Bringing back some unwanted, painful memories? I hope not.

The bleep test is a test undertaken to calculate your VO2 max. This simply means the maximum amount of oxygen that can be obtained from your blood and utilised by the working tissues and muscles within a given time period. Although VO2 max values can be obtained and calculated, to the average individual this means very little, so it is often the level obtained on the bleep test itself that is considered the significant value.

Despite a general lack of enthusiasm by most individuals towards this test, the bleep test is a great tool for assessing, monitoring and enhancing your fitness levels. It is often used within team sport scenarios such as basketball, cricket, football and rugby as both a pre-season initiation and team selection process.

For those of you that used to hide during p.e classes at school, the bleep test requires an individual to shuttle run between two markers which are set 20 metres apart to the sound of a pre-determined beep which gradually becomes faster. The starting speed is set at 8.5 kilometres per hour which increases by 0.5 kilometres per hour at every level, of which there are 23 in total. The aim of the test is to continue to run until 3 continuous beeps are missed, at which stage you obtain the level you reached and your test experience is over.

The Bleep Test

The bleep test itself is relatively inexpensive to administer. All that is required is adequate room to run between 20 metre markers and the bleep test audio which can be obtained from the internet or for all you iPhone users, downloaded via applications directly to your phone. The beauty of the bleep test is that it gives you as an individual a quantitative marker of your fitness levels which can be easily understood and replicated at a later date. The reading provided by the final level you reach can be used in numerous ways.

  • It can simply be recorded and set as a target goal to improve on for your next test.
  • If you’re part of a sports team then comparisons can be drawn between individuals.
  • It can be compared against previously completed research ‘norm’ figures (see below).
Bleep Test Average Levels

Below are bleep test levels calculated via extensive research for 5 independent age groups. They provide readings for above average, average and below average levels to obtain. The first chart represents males whilst the second provides bleep test average levels for females.


AgeAbove AverageAverageBelow Average
14 – 16Level 11.2Level 8.9Level 7.1
17 – 20Level 11.6Level 9.2Level 7.6
21 – 30Level 11.7Level 9.3Level 7.8
31 – 40Level 10.4Level 6.10Level 6.7
41 – 50Level 9.4Level 6.9Level 5.9


AgeAbove AverageAverageBelow Average
14 – 16Level 9.1Level 6.7Level 5.1
17 – 20Level 9.3Level 6.8Level 5.2
21 – 30Level 9.2Level 6.6Level 5.1
31 – 40Level 8.7Level 6.3Level 4.6
41 – 50Level 7.2Level 5.7Level 4.2

I hope this article experience has been a pleasant one and not made too many of you have haunting flashbacks to your childhood P.E experiences!

Personally, I think if the bleep test is viewed as a means of monitoring and enhancing fitness levels as opposed to an independent test then your attitude towards completion of it will remain positive. The test itself is highly reliable and as a result provides an individual with the perfect tool to monitor whether their fitness levels are enhancing, stabilising or deteriorating over a period of time.

Remember, the bleep test is not just a test but also a means of training. Therefore, if you continually undertake it on a regular basis then your body will become more efficient at delivering oxygen as the demands of the bleep test increase. This means not only will your test levels increase but if you are involved in any form of team sport or equivalent then these fitness enhancements should transfer directly over.

A certain Mr David Beckham has been known to fully complete all 23 levels of the bleep test without as much as even breaking into a sweat, so on that note, I think we all have something to aspire to!

Upgrade Your Running Gear

Why not give yourself a helping hand (or foot if we’re going to be anatomically correct), and treat yourself to a pair of sport specific running trainers;

  • LIVESTRONG Free Run+ Men's Running Shoe
  • Nike Free Run+ 2 Men's Running Shoe
  • Nike Air Max+ 2011 Men's Running Shoe
  • Asics Gel-Nimbus 12 Mens Running Trainers
  • Saucony Progrid Omni 8 Running Shoes
  • Adidas Clima Cool Ride