pediatric housecalls Robert R. Jarrett M.D. M.B.A. FAAP

Children’s Fitness: The Bleep Test

A previous article compared children’s health of today with those of 50 years ago and found our kids come up wanting. The fitness of your child can be easily improved by making a game out of “the BLEEP” test, a 20 meter (21.87 yards) running aerobic fitness test done in time to “BLEEPS”—or beeps—on a music player. The trick is that the beeps keep getting closer and closer together. Also known as the “multistage fitness test” (MSFT) it is so simple and engaging that it’s used all over everywhere at police academys, military units, major league sports teams, schools and youth sports venues. The information below is how it’s done. [As you know I usually don’t link with sites containing ads but such sites on this topic aren’t available. This gives an excellent promotion of the test but I don’t support the site that it references.]

Assessing Children’s Health and Fitness
The “bleep” test, the “beep” test, the “Multistage Fitness Test” (MSFT)

The test had its beginnings in Britain to quantify the fitness level of children and sports team participants. Its popularity has grown world-wide and it is now used by major league teams as a requirement of participation, not to mention military units, the FBI, schools and other venues where fitness is a job requirement. Many other “clones” of the test have been developed (such as the yo-yo test) but all of them are pretty much the same measurement of the body’s ability to utilize oxygen and get it to its cells.

For those of you who wish to have a copy of the test to use in your family, an MP3 file is downloadable below.

Setup of the bleep test

The “game” or “exercise” is easy to set up and just as easy to perform (except for the running part) but it does need some explanation to those you want to administer it to. The tape uses “beeps” to time the exercise. You start the tape and don’t stop it until the last person taking the test has dropped out. Ostensibly to the highest level it takes just over 20 minutes; but no one has been verified as completing it even though several have claimed to do so. Most fit individuals reach their maximum around 10 minutes, only professional level athletes make it above level 12 or so (there are 21).

Give the instructions, start the tape, wait for the first set of three beeps and runners begin at a pace “just fast enough” to arrive at the cone where they wait until the next beep sounds and they start back. They run back and forth at the same pace waiting at the end for the next beep until another series of three beeps indicate the “next level” and the pace picks up. So, it’s back and forth to the time of single beeps until three beeps announces the next level of faster pace.

The “players” continue until maximal effort is reached with encouragement from the onlookers. The idea is to keep going until they have been “late for the beep” two times in a row and their score becomes the last level that they reached on time. Everyone in the family will be different and playing the game will improve both the score and fitness. Here is a video of a college professor teaching students how to administer the test.

VIDEO

So, what to expect at the various ages for “fitness?” Barring preclusive physical impairments here are the charts for boys and girls 9 through 17. Children younger than nine can run to the beeps but really shouldn’t do so under pressure. Developing a love for how their bodies feel when they’re fit and active should be the FIRST agenda. Nine is early enough to begin the challenge of competing with one’s self for improvement as the SECOND agenda. Physical competition against others should be left for sometime AFTER 12 as the THIRD agenda.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE LEVELS

Boys

Percentile < 5 5-20 20-40 40-60 60-80 80-95 >95
Age very poor poor fair average good very good excellent
9 < 2/2 2/2-3/4 3/5-4/4 4/5-5/4 5/5-6/4 6/5-7/7 > 7/7
10 < 2/2 2/2-3/5 3/6-4/5 4/6-5/5 5/6-6/6 6/7-8/1 > 8/1
11 < 2/2 2/2-3/6 3/7-4/7 4/8-5/8 5/9-6/10 7/1-8/6 > 8/6
12 < 2/2 2/2-3/8 4/1-5/1 5/2-6/4 6/5-7/6 7/7-9/3 > 9/3
13 < 2/4 2/4-4/2 4/3-5/6 5/7-6/9 6/10-8/3 8/4-10/1 > 10/1
14 < 2/6 2/6-4/5 4/6-6/1 6/2-7/4 7/5-8/9 8/10-10/9 > 10/9
15 < 2/7 2/7-4/7 4/8-6/3 6/4-7/7 7/8-9/2 9/3-11/3 > 11/3
16 < 2/8 2/8-4/9 5/1-6/6 6/7-7/10 8/1-9/6 9/7-11/8 > 11/8
17 < 3/1 3/1-5/2 5/3-6/8 6/9-8/3 8/4-9/9 9/10-12/1 > 12/1

Girls

Percentile < 5 5-20 20-40 40-60 60-80 80-95 >95
Age very poor poor fair average good very good excellent
9 < 2/2 2/2-3/1 3/2-3/8 4/1-4/6 4/7-5/4 5/5- 6/6 > 6/6
10 < 1/7 1/7-3/1 3/2- 3/8 4/1-4/7 4/8-5/6 5/7- 6/8 > 6/8
11 < 1/6 1/6-2/8 3/1- 3/8 4/1-4/8 4/9-5/8 5/9-7/1 > 7/1
12 < 1/5 1/5-2/8 3/1-4/1 4/2-4/9 5/1-5/9 6/1-7/3 > 7/3
13 < 1/5 1/5-3/1 3/2-4/1 4/2-5/1 5/2-6/1 6/2- 7/5 > 7/5
14 < 1/5 1/5-3/1 3/2-4/1 4/2-5/1 5/2-6/2 6/3- 7/6 > 7/6
15 < 1/5 1/5-3/12 3/2-4/2 4/3-5/2 5/3-6/3 6/4-7/7 > 7/7
16 < 1/5 1/5-3/1 3/2- 4/2 4/3-5/2 5/3-6/3 6/4-7/8 > 7/8
17 < 1/5 1/5-3/1 3/2-4/2 4/3-5/3 5/4-6/4 6/5- 7/9 > 7/9

Finally, if you’re still with me, here is a summary chart of the entire test levels and shuttles on each level. It shows the relative speed the child is running (km/h) at each level as well as times and distances.

TEST SUMMARY INFORMATION

Bleep test summary information

 

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2 Posts in This Series