Fitness tests set benchmarks, inform our programming, and allow us to see whether we have improved. Therefore, fitness tests are a necessary part of optimal program design – programming just isn’t programming if it doesn’t include some form of fitness testing!

On the flip side, some coaches go testing crazy, and sometimes we must take a step back and consider:

How useful is the data I am going to get from this test?

  • Am I likely to retest this?
  • Is this the best use of my time?

Some tests are far more likely to result in clear, measurable changes, such as long-duration endurance tests. However, when it comes to short change of direction (COD) speed tests, for example, what is the Smallest Worthwhile Change?

We must remember that an athlete’s performance can undulate from day to day due to countless factors (poor sleep that night or poor nutrition/hydration that day), and things like weather conditions can play a key role (when testing outdoors). Therefore, when dealing in milliseconds, it is not as simple as “well done, you have put 10kg on your squat, which is a 10% increase”.

Here are my top 5 Fitness Tests:

(Not specific to any athlete or sport, just ones I personally like)

  1. 1RM on Squat, Press, Deadlift
  2. 0-50m Sprint (with 10m splits)
  3. Vertical Countermovement Jump
  4. Maximum Aerobic Speed – 1.5-2km Time Trial
  5. 20m Bleep Test – I have always loved this test!

I also love a good push-up and sit-up test, but that is just nostalgia from my Army PTI days.

What fitness tests do you use – what are your top 5?


Jason Curtis

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