The Dreaded Beep Test
The Beep Test is also known as the Shuttle Run Test, or Multi Stage Test
The length of the shuttle is 20 metres and a beep indicates when and how often you run. The beep test provides a good estimate of a persons VO2 Max.
The Beep test is commonly used to test cardio fitness as it is easy to set up, cheap and large groups can be tested together
The Beep Test was invented by Canadians in 1982, and was first run at The University of Montreal in Canada.
The test is widely used across Australia especially in sporting clubs and schools.
The aim of the beep test is for you to run for as long as you can across the 20metre shuttles, going up and back between cones. All that is required for you is to reach the cone before the beep goes. The first level is like a warm up pace, so you should run it quite slow. The success of the test is often based on how well you pace yourself in the early levels. You only need to place one foot on or over the cone line, so don’t run past it, only run to it.
The level one speed is 8.5km per hour, each level goes up half a km until the last level 21, if you get to this level you are travelling at 18.5km an hour
Each level goes for approx 62 seconds,
Level one has 7 shuttles; levels 2 and 3 have 8 shuttles; levels 4 and 5 have 9 shuttles; levels 6 and 7 have 10 shuttles; levels 8, 9 and 10 have 11 shuttles; levels 11 and 12 have 12 shuttles; levels 13, 14 and 15 have 13 shuttles; levels 16 and 17 have 14 shuttles; levels 18 and 19 have 15 shuttles; and levels 20 and 21 have 16 shuttles
The shuttle time for the Level One is 9 seconds per shuttle; the shuttle time for level 21 is 3.89 seconds!
When you get to level 6 you have run One kilometre, at Level 11 you have run a bit over 2km, and if you finish the test you will have run just under 5km
When you get to level 5 you have been running for 5 mins 14 secs
When you get to level 8 you have been running for 8 mins 28 secs
When you get to level 10 you have been running for 10 mins 32 secs
When you get to level 12 you have been running for 12 mins 38 secs
When you get to level 14 you have been running for 14 mins 45 secs
The Australian Army require an entrance of 7.5 beep test score
The Royal Australian Airforce 6.5
The Australian Navy 6.1
Fire Brigades 9.6
Australian Police Force varies between states but it is somewhere in between levels 9 and 10 for men, and 6 and 7 for women
Can Anyone Complete the Beep Test?
There are rumours that some athletes have completed the whole Beep test, but they are unconfirmed. David Beckham and Lance Armstong have been cited as finishers, however, it is also claimed that Beckhams top score reached level 16, which is more believable
It is not expected that even an athlete at the top of his field to get past level 19 in a beep test.
However on saying that, the world record for 400m is 43.18 sec run by Michael Johnson. That's 9.26 m/s or 33.35 km/h, on those figures it could be done!
The AFL draft expects all the eligible players to reach level 15 in a beep test
The best confirmed beep test recorded is held by soccer player Hakan Mild, he reached level 19/2
The Highest registered Australian Score is by Hockey Player, Brent Livermore who scored level 17
Simon Black has set a record for the Brisbane Lions AFL club by scoring 15/11
It has been reported that the one of the worlds highest beep test score was achieved by Sebastian Coe, when at his athletic prime he got to level 17
In November 2008, the record was set in Ballarat Victoria for the most amount of people to compete in the one Beep Test, it was set by the students of Ballarat and Clarendon College, 412 students and staff completed the largest mass beep test.
Once you have completed your beep test, the score is the level you reached, plus the shuttles in that level, that you completed before you missed the beep (so the shuttle before your last run shuttle)
That score is than calculated into a VO2 max figure and that then used to calculate your cardio score, the score take factors, of age and sex into account when it puts it into a category
So a Beep test score of 5 levels and 2 shuttles has a Vo2 Max score of 30.2 for a woman aged between 30 and 40 it would put her in the Fair category, for a man of the same age it would put him in the Poor category
A Beep test score of 8 levels and 2 shuttles has a VO2 Max score of 40.5 for a woman aged between 30 and 40 it would put her in the Superior category, for a man of the same age it would put him in the Fair/Good category
For a man in his forties to get into the Superior Category, he would need to have a Beep test score of 10 levels and 4 shuttles, which gives him a VO2 Max of 48.0
Why such a difference between the sexes you ask?
Values of VO2max are typically 40-60% higher in men than in women. This difference is due to the variance in bodyweight and lean body mass between men and women. Mens lungs and hearts are typically larger and able to work at a harder rate.
Why such a difference between the ages you ask?
In general, VO2 max scores can improve with training and decrease with age. Unfortunately, after the age of 30, VO2 max declines by 1% per year, therefore more training is needed as we get older just to maintain our previous years VO2 max score
A great thing to note is that running, especially distance running produces the best VO2 max scores. Many top runners hold the records for the highest scores, the other two highest sports are cross country skiers and cyclists