Thu | Jan 24, 2019

Testing and assessing physical fitness components

Published:Tuesday | January 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Physical Fitness standards are different for different people. For example, someone who plays sports usually has to meet higher standards. If you don't play sports, you should try to meet healthy standards. Either way, fitness is acquired through physical activity.

Physical fitness can be tested and assessed through various ways.

Maximum Strength

1. The one repetition max test - using free weights or multi-gym equipment. Add weight gradually to work to maximum you can lift. Allow recovery between each lift.

2. Hand grip dynamometer test - used to measure hand grip strength. The handle of the equipment is squeezed as hard as possible. The equipment will give readings of the strength of the grip.

Muscular Power

1. Standing broad jump - Stand with feet comfortably apart behind a start line, bend knees, jump as far as possible. Measure the distance.

2. Sergeant jump - Stand next to a wall, reach up with arm nearest to the wall and mark the highest point you can reach with both feet planted on the ground. Chalk your fingertips and leap upwards marking the wall at the highest point. Measure the distance between marks.

Muscular Endurance

1. Sit-ups test - measures muscular endurance of abdominal muscles. Lie on the floor with knees bent, hands across the chest, and feet flat on the floor. Raise your trunk until your elbows are touching the knees. Then lower yourself to the floor again. Complete as many as possible within 30 seconds.

Men WomenHigh Score >26 >23Low Score <21 <17

2. Press-Up Test - measures muscular endurance of chest and shoulder muscles. Complete as many as possible in 60 seconds.


30m speed test - Mark the start line, then measure 30m from the start line. Mark the finish line. Stand 20m behind the start line. Get a partner to record your speed in seconds from the moment you cross the start line to the finish line. At go, sprint as fast as you can from there to the finish.

Men WomenHigh Score <7.2 seconds <7.8 secondsLow Score>9.1 seconds >9.7 seconds


Illinois Agility 50m shuttle run test - An area is marked for a shuttle, including a start and a finish. Lying face down on the floor behind a starting line, leap to your feet and complete the designated course, which involves running around a series of obstacles in shortest time.

Men WomenHigh Score <15.9 seconds <17.8 secondsLow Score>18.8 seconds >23.4 seconds


Stork Stand - Stand comfortably on both feet with hands on hips. Lift one leg and place the toes on the knee of the other. Raise the heel of the planted foot and stand on toes for as long as possible.

High score >49 seconds

Low score <10 seconds


Alternate Hand Wall Toss Test - Stand 2 metres from wall. Toss a tennis ball from right hand to wall and catch it with your left hand. Repeat using alternate hand for 30 seconds.

High score >35 catches

Low score <20 catches

Reaction Time

This can be measured by computerised programmes that ask for a response as quickly as possible to a stimulus such as a sound or visual cue. Reaction time is a person's speed of reaction to a stimulus. It depends on the efficiency of the nervous system (sensory & motor). Reaction time can be improved through practice and experience, anticipation, and if the individual has a high percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibres.


1. Sit and reach test for hamstring flexibility

Turn a bench on its side, tape a ruler on top, sit with feet flat against the bench, legs straight, slowly reach forward as far as you can. The distance the fingertips reached on the ruler is recorded.

Male FemaleHigh score 11cm and above 16cm and aboveLow scoreLess than -5cmless than 1cm

2. Shoulder hyper extension test for the chest and shoulders

Lie face down on the floor with arms stretched out in front. Hold a metre rule with hands shoulder width apart. Raise your arms as high as possible, keeping your chin on the ground and stick parallel to the floor. The height is measured.

Male FemaleHigh score 41cm and above 46cm and aboveLow score0-10cm0-15cm

Body Composition

Modern testing equipment can take skinfold measurement using calliper and reference tables. The BMI can also be used.

BMI=Weight (kg)/Height squared (m2)

Underweight - <20 Overweight - 25-30 Obese - >30

Cardio respiratory Endurance/Stamina

We measure stamina (VO2Max) by finding out how much oxygen we can use in one minute of maximum exercise. Tests such as the multistage fitness test, Harvard 5mins or Kasch-Boyer 3mins step test or Cooper's 12-minute run are used.

1.Multistage Test (bleep) - A series of 20m shuttle runs in time to beeps from a pre-recorded tape. The beeps get shorter after each minute so running speed increases. Each level demands a greater amount of fitness. When the speed does not coordinate with the beeps, the level is recorded. A standard chart relates the number of shuttles completed at your fitness level.

2.Harvard Test - Resting heart rate is taken. Step on and off a 45cm high bench for 5mins using the same foot every time. Speed of recovery is recorded at the end of 5mins by taking pulse for 30s, 1 minute after the activity then 2mins, then 3mins. The greater the aerobic capacity, the lower the pulse rate.

Men Women

High score >90 >86

Low score >55 >50

3.Cooper's 12mins Run - Run for 12 minutes around a marked area. The total distance ran is recorded.

Men Women

High score >2800m >2300m

Low score <2200m <1800m

Next Week Topic:Principles of Training and Conditioning

Jennifer Ellison-Brown