Other Fitness Tests

Waist Circumference | Bone Density | Flexibility | Cardiovascular | Strength | Power | Speed

Hydrostatic Weighing (Body Composition)

Tester takes the subject's height, weight, and residual lung capacity. The subject gets in the water, wipes off bubbles on the body, blows 80% of the air out in the water than the other 20% submerged. The subject holds as still as possible. Tester hits on side of tank to signal subject weight has been taken.

Inaccurate with power athletes with high bone density since formulas assume fixed bone density. Football players have been measured with negative percent body fat. Possibly inaccurate with individuals with low bone density. (Adams 1982)

Adams J, Mottola M, Bagnall KM, McFadden KD (1982) Total body fat content in a group of professional football players. Can J Appl Sport Sci. 7(1):36-40.

Waist Circumference

Waist Hip Ratio Calculator

Fat located inside the abdominal wall (visceral fat) contributes more to the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes than does fat located in other areas (Björntorp 1992). Some experts suggest waist circumference may be a better predictor of visceral fat than a widely used waist-to-hip ratio (Pouliot, et al 1994). Waist circumference may overestimate health risk in tall individuals and underestimate health risk in short individuals (Welborn, et al 2003) and weight trained individuals, or those with thicker waist musculature (See study). Also see Waist Hip Ratio Calculator.

Björntorp P (1992). Abdominal fat distribution and metabolic syndrome. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol: 20 Supp 8: S26-S28.

Pouliot M-C, Després JP, Lemieux S, Moorjani S, Bouchard C, Tremblay A, Nadeau A, Lupien PJ. (1994). Waist circumference and abdominal sagittal diameter: best simple anthropometric indexes of abdominal visceral adipose tissue accumulation and related cardiovascular risk in men and women. Am J Cardio. 73: 460-468.

Welborn TA, Satvinder S Dhaliwal, and Stanley A Bennett (2003). Waist–hip ratio is the dominant risk factor predicting cardiovascular death in Australia. The Medical Journal of Australia; 179 (11/12): 580-585.

Standards are as follows:

  • Men: no greater than 102 cm (40 inches)
  • Women: no greater than 88 cm (34.6 inches)
  • Post-menopause women: no greater than 110 cm (43.3 inches)
  Men Women
Risk cm inches cm inches
Very High >120 >47 >110 >43.5
High 100 - 120 39.5 - 47 90 - 109 35.5 - 43
Low 80 - 99 31.5 - 39 70 - 89 28.5 - 35
Very Low <80 <31.5 <70 < 28.5

ACSM (2005) ACSM guidelines for exercise testing and prescription, 7th ed. Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins, 61

Shigematsu R (2004). Cutoff values of Intra-abdominal fat area for the prevention of metabolic disorders in women. 36(5).

Bone Density


  • Bone mineral density accurately measures bone strength and risk of osteoporosis (Bouxsein, 1993)
  • Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA)
    • Amount of x-ray transmitted through bone is proportional to mineral density
  • Ultrasound
    • Soundwaves estimate bone density by measuring wave attenuation as it is applied to the skeletal site.
      • Attenuation affected by material and geometric properties of bone
    • Heel, shinbone, and kneecap
    • Used as a screening tool
      • Diagnostic ability is questionable
      • Poor at retesting due to poor precision errors (5-10%)
        • poor at monitoring efficacy of treatment
        • poor at detecting rates of loss
      • Advantages over DXA
        • no radiation
        • easier to administer
        • less cost

Measuring Joint Angles

  • Measures angles and range of motion of joints.
    • The technique must be standardized
  • Goniometer
    • Most common
  • Yardstick and protractor
  • Protractor diagram is drawn on a wall
    • Speeds up testing large numbers
    • Not as precise
  • Inclinometer
    • Track arc of motion
    • Acceptable for complex movements
    • Similar in principle to a carpenter's level
    • Two inclinometers may be used
    • May be purchased at a hardware store and are quite inexpensive.

Sit & Reach Box?

Sit Reach Spinal Flexion

Liemohn et al (1997) found performance on the sit-and-reach was significantly better with the ankle in a passive plantarflexion as opposed to the fixed dorsiflexion posture required when the test is administered using a sit-and-reach box (See Sit and Reach Calculator). Dorsal flexion may negatively affect hip flexion since the stretched gastrocnemius can pull the hamstrings behind the knee.

The newest YMCA sit-and-reach protocol no longer uses a sit-and-reach box allowing the ankle to plantarflex. The YMCA Fitness Testing and Assessment Manual (2000) states:

"A recent study by Golding showed a significant difference in the scores obtained in the YMCA Flexibility Test and a different version of the sit-and-reach test used in some other test batteries. To use the (newer) YMCA’s norms, the test must be performed as just described."

Interestingly, in a bent-over standing position, the ankle would be in a neutral position, only slightly more plantarflexed than 90°.

Liemohn W, Martin SB, Pariser G (1997). The effect of ankle posture on sit-and-reach test performance in young adults. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 11, 239-241.

YMCA of the USA (2000), YMCA Fitness Testing and Assessment Manual, 4th Edition, 158-160.

15 minute Run

Balke B (1963) A simple field test for the assessment of physical fitness. Civil Aeromedical Research Institute Report, 63-18. Oklahoma City: Federal Aviation Agency.

Yo-Yo Test (Beep test)

Subjects run back and forth between markers, 20 meters apart at speeds controlled by a cassette. The speed is progressively increased. When the subject can no longer maintain the speed, the test is terminated. VO2 max can be determined from the distance covered during the test

  • Developed by: Jens Bangsbo, August Krogh Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark Produced by HO + Storm, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Tiocano Music A/S, Smorum, Denmark Purchase: Helle Thomson, August Krogh Institute, Universitetsparken 13, DK-2100 Copenhagen 0, Denmark, Fax: Int+45 35 32 15 67, Tel: Int+45 35 323 1622

The 20-m shuttle run (Beep Test) is a poor predictor of VO2 max in male college soccer players. A correlation of r=0.35 was found between the predicted VO2 max scores from the Beep Test and the Vo2 max scores measured during the treadmill test.

Kendrick KH, Titlow LW, Sherwwod N (2004). Concurrent Validity of the Beep Test in Male College Soccer Players. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 75(1) Suppl, A-39-40.

Treadmill Rockport Walk Test

Rockport Walk Test on Treadmill

The Rockport Walk Test was originally designed to be administered on a track. The field test can also be adapted to be performed on a treadmill. The most valid results can be obtained using treadmills that can detect and display a chest strap heart rate monitor. However, some testers may only have access to a treadmill with only the heart rate monitor built into the handrail of the treadmill. If this method is used, hands should only be placed on the handrails momentarily without supporting any weight onto handrails, just long enough to obtain a stable reading.

Consider having a sweat towel and water available during the test.

  • Warmup and review instructions with participant
  • Reset machine to begin 1 mile
  • Challenge participants to reach the fastest walking speed in which they can sustain for the remaining duration of test with fewest speed adjustments possible.
  • No speed adjustment should be made last half of test to sustain a steady-state heart rate
  • Take heart rate two separate times just before the end of 1 mile
    • Use the last measurement if heart rates are similar
  • Record time a 1-mile mark
    • If heart rates are significantly different take an additional heart rate immediately after completion of 1 mile at the same speed.
  • Reduce speed to slow walk for cool down

Also, see post-exercise palpation of pulse rate study.

Step Tests

A five-minute step test was first developed during World War II at the Harvard University Fatigue Laboratory. The Harvard Step Test varies invalidity from 0.20 to 0.50, probably because the initial pulse rates are sometimes unreliable. The step test was originally validated by comparing heart performance with muscular endurance. In retrospect, we now know the correlation between heart rate and muscular endurance is very low. In 1951, Taddonio and Karpovoch found a correlation of 0.63 between the step test and the order in which college men finished a cross-country race. The primary appeal of the step test remains its ability to simultaneously test many subjects indoors without the use of a track or equipment, such as a cycle ergometer or treadmill.

Willgoose, C.E., Evaluation in Health Education and Physical Education, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 1961.

Wheelchair VO2max Test

Level of aerobic fitness based on 12-minute wheelchair performance test and VO2max (ml/kg/min)

Miles Kilometers VO2 Fitness Level
<0.63 <1.01 <7.7 poor
0.63-0.86 1.01-1.38 7.7-14.5 below average
0.87-1.35 1.39-2.17 14.6-29.1 fair
1.36-1.59 2.18-2.56 29.2-36.2 good
>1.59 >2.57 >=36.3 excellent

Wheelchair propulsion (miles) = 0.370 + 0.0337 (VO2max, ml.kg-1.min-1)

R = 0.84 (p less than .001); SEE = 0.13

Franklin BA, Swantek KI, Grais SL, Johnstone KS, Gordon S, Timmis GC. Field test estimation of maximal oxygen consumption in wheelchair users. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1990;71:574-578.

VO2 Norms

Gettman LR: Personal Fitness Profile Database. National Health Enhancement Systems. Phoenix, AZ, 1987.


Lever Bench Press

The Bench Press and Leg Press one repetition maximum standards published in numerous fitness testing publications including the ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription were developed by The Institute for Aerobic Research (1994). The Cooper Institute warns

Since the norms were established using the Universal DVR machine, no other weight training machine will be accurate.

Likewise, the leg press norms were also derived from data using the Universal DVR leg press machine. The Cooper Institute also explains one problem in using the leg press is the considerable variability among leg press machines. The varying angles of the hip, knee, and ankle make it difficult to standardized the leg press one-rep max test.

Also, see One Rep Max Calculator and Strength Standards.

American College of Sports Medicine, (2000) ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, Sixth Edition, 84-85.

The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research (1999). Common questions regarding physical fitness tests, standards, and programs in law enforcement. Dallas Texas, 5-6.

Isometric Dynamometry

  • Assess strength or muscular endurance
    • Handgrip
      • Upright posture, arms at side, squeeze
    • Leg
      • Truck erect, knees flexed 130° to 140°, bar across thighs, extend legs
    • Back
      • Erect posture, knees extended, alternated grip bar, upward lift
  • Strength assessment
    • Best of 3 maximal attempts
    • Expressed as absolute or relative strength in kg
  • Endurance assessments
    • Choice of two protocols
      • Initial load based on results of strength test
    • Option A: Measure percentage decline in strength over a 1-minute duration
    • Option B: Measure time subject can maintain 50% of maximal initial load
  • Data standardized to an average adult
    • >50 years of age, reduced normative scores by 10%

Isokinetic Dynametry

  • Assesses
    • Strength or muscular endurance at a constant speed
    • Site-specific as allowable by device
  • Strength protocol
    • Speed set to 30° to 60° per second
    • 2 to 3 submaximal trials
    • 3-5 maximal attempts
      • until performance decrease is noted
      • the best score recorded
  • Endurance protocol
    • Speed set to 120° to 180° per second
    • Successive maximum attempts until torque decrease to 50% of the initial value
    • A record number of repetition completed
  • Norms provided by the manufacturer
    • May vary by instrument, speed, etc.

Anaerobic Power Tests

Muscular power tests include Wingate Anaerobic Power test, Isokinetic dynamometry, vertical jump, and stair sprint.

Also see Vandewalle, H., Pérès, G., Monod, H. (1987) Standard Anaerobic Exercise Test, Sports Medicine 4: 268-289.

Wingate Anaerobic Power Test

  • Warm-up:
    • 5-10 minute warm-up against light resistance to HR of 150-160 bpm
  • Test:
    • Subject pedals maximally against low resistance to optimum cadence (~90 rpm)
    • A full load applied (30-second test begins)
    • The load applied dependent on the individual (see chart)
    • Count maximal revolutions in 30 seconds
      • usually done by computer and translated to Watts
  • Cooldown:
    • 3-5 minute cool-down of light cycling required!
    • HR return to ~120 bpm
  • Age and Gender-specific norms (Inbar, et al, 1996)

Balance Tests

Although the usefulness of balance testing for the general population is questionable, notable single leg static balance tests include the Flamingo Balance Test (Ages 6-9 years of age) and the Stork Balance Test.

Other commonly performed tests can indirectly detect general deficiencies in balance (ie: vestibular disorders):

120 Yard Dash (Speed)

A timer at yards: 40, 80, 120 or use single timer far away with a split timer stopwatch.

  • Stationary 40 = 0 - 40
  • Flying 40 = 40 - 80
  • Speed endurance score = (0 - 40) - (80 - 120) < 0.1 second
  • Flying 40 - Stationary 40 < 0.7 Sec

Number of strides during flying timed 40-yard dash time.

  • Champion male sprinters: 5 steps per second
  • Champion female sprinters: 4.48 steps per second

Source: Sports Speed

Related Articles