MSFT | Bleep Test (20m)

| 07/05/2012 | 0 Comments More

The 20m multistage fitness test is a commonly used maximal running aerobic fitness test. It is also known as the 20 meter shuttle run test, beep or bleep test among others.

equipment required:

Flat, non-slip surface, marking cones, 20m measuring tape, beep test, cd player or other playing device, recording sheets.


This test involves continuous running between two lines 20m apart in time to recorded bleeps.  For this reason the test if also often called the bleep test. The test subjects stand behind one of the lines facing the second line, and begin running when instructed by the cd or tape. The speed at the start is quite slow. The subject continues running between the two lines, turning when signaled by the recorded beeps. After about one minute, a sound indicates an increase in speed, and the bleeps will be closer together.

This continues each minute (level). If the line is not reached in time for each bleep, the subject must run to the line turn and   try to catch up with the pace within 2 more ‘bleeps’. Also, if the line is reached before the beep sounds, the subject must wait until the beep sounds. The test is stopped if the subject fails  to reach the line (within 2 meters) for two consecutive ends. There are several versions of the test, but one commonly used version has an initial running velocity of 8.5 km/hr, which increases by 0.5 km/hr each minute.

target population: this test is suitable for sports teams and school groups, but not for populations in which a maximal exercise test would be contraindicated.

  • validity: The correlation to actual VO2max scores is high (see some of these references). There are published VO2max score equivalents for each level reached, which can be determined using this Bleep VO2max Calculator.
  • reliability: The reliability of the bleep test would depend on how strictly the test is run and the practice allowed for the subjects. There are also other factors which can affect performance, which need to be controlled if possible. See point below.
  • factors to consider: Although the bleep test is primarily a fitness test of the aerobic energy system, there are a range of other factors that can affect performance in the test and are  are important to consider. These include:   running efficiency and turning technique, anaerobic capacity, motivation and  social dynamics, motor skills and cognitive ability (especially in children), environmental differences, clothing and running surfaces, test familiarization and instructions, the purpose and context of testing
  • advantages: Large groups can perform this test all at once for minimal costs. Also, the test continues to maximum effort unlike many other tests of endurance capacity.
  • disadvantages: Practice and motivation levels can influence the score attained, and the scoring can be subjective. As the test is often conducted outside, the environmental conditions can  affect the results.
  • other considerations:
    • As the audio-tapes may stretch over time, the tapes need to be calibrated which involves timing a one-minute interval and making adjustment to the distance between markers. The recording is also available on compact disc, which does not require such a stringent calibration, but should also be checked occasionally.
    • This test goes by many names, though you need to be careful as the different names also may signify that these are different versions of the test. Therefore you need to be wary when comparing results or comparing to norms.
    • This test is a maximal test, which requires a reasonable level of fitness. It is   not recommended for recreational athletes or people with health problems,   injuries or low fitness levels.
    • One way to ensure that all athletes push themselves in the test is for them to wear a heart rate monitor. You can then compare their maximum heart rate during the test to their predicted or measured maximum to determine if they have ‘maxed out’.

Category: For the Trainer

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