If you are just starting to exercise, thinking about starting or maybe you have been exercising for a while it is a good idea to see what your current level of fitness is. Comparing your results with the industry standards can help you set your goals, you will be able to see how you rate and where you might need to make improvements.

The following tests are widely used by personal trainers and other fitness industry experts to establish what level new clients are at before they start their training. It can also help with designing a training programme as the tests help identify any areas that may need improvement, this can be weak muscles that need strengthening or tight muscles that need stretching, balance, flexibility, functional mobility etc.

Another good reason to take the tests is to be able to measure your progress, after following an exercise programme for a set amount of time re do the tests and compare the results to your starting test results to see how you have improved.

I have listed only a few of the tests that can be used, take them and see how you do. All the tests can be done in your own home or outside.

1. Push Up Test

How to do the test:

Warm up for 5-10mins before completing this test. Lie flat on the floor and raise yourself up on to your hands and balls of your feet,  your hands should be shoulder width apart and your feet should be together. Slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself down to the floor, keeping your back straight, your chest should be a couple of inches off the floor and then raise yourself back up by pushing the ground way from you. There should be a straight line from your head to your heels don’t let gravity take over causing you to dip your back, use your Abs and core to maintain that straight line.

Your chin must touch the mat/floor, do not let your stomach touch the floor.

How many can you do without resting?

Lets see how you did compared to the guidelines below.

Women (modified push ups. i.e knees on the floor)

Age20-2930-3940-4950-5960-69
Excellent3027242117
Very Good2926232016
2120151112
Good2019141011
15131185
Fair14121074
108552
Needs Improvement97411

Men (full push ups)

Age20-2930-3940-4950-5960-69
Excellent3630252118
Very Good3529242017
2922171311
Good2821161210
221713108
Fair21161297
17121075
Needs Improvement1611964

Source: American College of Sports Medicine. (2006). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

2. Abdominal Curl Test

You will need some tape for this one and a metronome if you have one, alternatively you can find an online one and play that from your computer, iphone, smartphone etc whilst you complete the test

How to do the test:

Warm up for 5-10mins before completing this test. Cut two strips of tape an dplace them parrallel with 10 cms between them.  Lie on your back with your arms to your sides, palms down,  so your fingertips are touching the first strip of tape. Bend your knees to a 90 degree angle. Curl up until yout fingertips reach the second strip of tape and then return to the start position. You want to do this at the rate of  3 seconds per curl up  (set the metronome to 40 beats per minute). Do as many as you can without resting and without breaking the rythm.

How many did you do?

Compare your results to the tables below.

Women

 Under 35 Years35-44 YearsOver 45 Years
Excellent504030
Good403015
Below Average251510
Poor1064

Men

 Under 35 Years35-44 YearsOver 45 Years
Excellent605040
Good454025
Below Average302515
Poor15105

3. Rockport 1 Mile (1.6km) Walk Test

This test will give you a good estimate of your current VO2 max  (maximum oxygen uptake) which is the maximum amount of oxygen you can use during exercise and is a way to check your cardiovascular level of fitness and measure improvements. VO2max is expressed as millimetres of oxygen per kilogram of bodyweight per minute (ml/kg/min).

How to do the test:

You will need to head outside for this one, or if you are a member of a gym you can use the treadmill. What you need to do is walk 1 mile as fast as possible (no jogging or running it is a walking test). If you are going to do this outside avoid any hills, find a level area or even a track if you have access to one. Then take your heart rate during the last 1 minute of the walk.

You will need to record the amount of time it took to complete the 1 mile, in minutes and seconds and your heart rate. Find a calculator and complete the following equation:

(You will need the following figures when completing the equation. Gender: Male =1 Female = 0)

Estimated VO2max (in ml/kg/min)  =  132.853 – (0.0769 × weight in lbs) – (0.3877 × age in years) + (6.315 × gender) – (3.2649 × time in minutes) – (0.1565 × heart rate in beats per minute)

Now compare your results to the tables below

Women

Relative VO2Max
(ml/kg/min)
18-25 Years26-35 Years36-45 Years46-55 years56-65 Years65 Years and above
Excellent>56>52>45>40>37>32
Good47-5645-5238-4534-4032-3728-32
Above Average42-4639-4434-3731-3328-3125-27
Average38-4135-3831-3328-3025-2722-24
Below Average33-3731-3427-3025-2722-2419=22
Poor<32<30<26<24<21<18

Men

Relative VO2 max
(ml/kg/min)
18-25 Years26-35 Years35-45 Years46-55 Years56-65 Years65 Years and over
Excellent>60>56>51>45>41>37
Good52-6049-5643-5139-4536-4133-37
Above Average47-5143-4839-4235-3832-3529-32
Average42-4640-4235-3832-3530-3126-28
Below Average37-4135-3931-3429-3126-2922-25
Poor<36<34<30<28<25<21

4. The 3 minute Step Test

This is another cardiovascular test that you can do as an alternative to the 1 mile walk.

You will something to use as a step, it should be 30.5 cms (12inches) high and will need to step at 24 steps per min, to help you stay in time use a metronome (set to 96) if you have one, alternatively you can find an online one and play that from your computer, iphone, smartphone etc whilst you complete the test. Once the 3 minutes is up sit down and straight away (within 5 seconds) start to count your heart rate for 15 seconds and then times by 4 to get the total number of beats per minute.

Now do the following equation and compare your results to the tables for the walking test above.

Men Estimated VO2 max = 111.33 – (0.42 x heart rate) Women Estmated VO2 max = 65.81 – (0.1847 x heart rate)

5. Sit and Reach Test

This test will determine your lower back and hamstring flexibility.

How to do the test:

You will need a measuring tape, yardstick or ruler. You will need to warm up first for 5-10 mins. Remove your shoes and sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front with your feet 12 inches apart, keep both knees flat on the floor (you may want to ask someone to help you keep your knees on the floor by applying gentle pressure). The ruler should be in front of you, between your legs, with the 0 towards you and 15 inches in line with your heels (you may want to tape the ruler down to keep it in place). With your hands on top of one another lean forward slowly as far as possible and hold for 2 seconds (do not bounce to increase your reach), record the number on the ruler that is at the tip of your middle fingers. Repeat 3 times and use the greatest number.

Compare your results with the table below.

Women

Flexibility18-25 Years26-35 Years36-45 Years46-55 Years56-65 Years65 Years and above
Excellent>24>23>22>21>20>20
Good21-2320-2219-2118-2018-1918-19
Above Average20-2119-2017-1917-1816-1716-17
Average18-191816-1715-161514-15
Below Average17-1816-1714-1514-1513-1412-13
Poor<16<15<13<13<12<11

Men

Flexibility18-25 Years26-35 Years36-45 Years46-55 Years56-65 Years65 Years and above
Excellent>20>20>19>19>17>17
Good18-2018-1917-1916-1714-1713-16
Above Average17-1816-1715-1714-1512-1411-13
Average15-1615-1613-1512-1310-129-11
Below Average13-1412-1411-1310-118-108-9
Poor<12<12<11<9<8<7

6. Squat Test

You will need a chair for this one, one that will allow you to sit with your legs at a 90 degree angle.

How to do the test:

Warm up for 5-10mins before completing this test. Stand facing away from the chair with your feet shoulder width apart. Now squat down slowly until your bottom lightly touches the chair then return to standing position. Repeat with no rest until you are unable to perform anymore. If you lose your form stop and write down the number of your last fully completed squat.

How many did you do?

You can use this number as a way of measuring your improvement, test yourself again in 10 weeks after you ahve been following an exercise programme.

There are various other tests you can complete and these were just a sample of those that are frequently used.

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