Overall Fitness

I recently came across this fitness test in Runners World. The test is not only good for runners, but anybody who wants to test several different types of fitness categories to get an idea of your overall fitness.

Unlike other fitness tests on this site, these tests are simply pass/fail. They are not age or gender specific. The results are set for very fit men, probably at or near their prime.

If your results don't put you in the passing category, don't be concerned, especially women and older adults. Keep track of your results. Perform the tests after exercising for a couple of months. See if they've improved. If not, you may want to adjust your exercise routine.

As mentioned, these tests look to have been set for men in their prime. If you don't feel comfortable with any of the tests, don't take that test. Staying injury free is much more important then a fitness test.

Core Strength

There are many different definitions or where your core is. I think of the core as the trunk of your body from your hips to your chest. This simple exercise will give an indication of your core strength. If this exercise looks familiar, it's because it also used in the Functional Movement Screening.

  • Lie face down on the floor or a mat.
  • With your hands shoulder width apart, place your hands so that your thumbs are in line with your forehead.
  • From this position, raise your elbows.
  • Legs together, on your toes, raise your knees.
  • While keeping your body stiff, push your body up into a pushup position.
  • Hold the up position for 10 seconds.

Passing: Being able to push yourself up without your hips sinking below your torso, then holding the up position for 10 seconds.

How to Improve: Doing pushups on a regular basis, making an extra effort to keep your body stiff, will improve your core. You should also add planks to your exercise routine. There are many different types of planks, but I'd suggest you add some planks to pushups and planks on an exercise ball to your routine.

Lower-body Power

One exercise that can be used to test for leg power is the standing broad jump. This test produces a good amount of stress on your body so should only be performed by fit individuals.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Have you toes behind a line or something to mark your starting point.
  • Squat down, then swing your arms forward as you spring up and jump as far as you can.
  • The jumping distance is measured from your toes at the start to where your heels landed at the completion of the jump.

Passing: 8 feet

How to Improve: The standard for passing this test is extremely hard. Don't worry about your jumping distance the first time you try this test, just try to improve on it in the future. There are a few strategies for improving your broad jump distance. For starters, power is a combination of strength and speed, so you should attempt to improve both with your exercises. Squats are a good exercise for improving lower-body power. As are lunges. Add jump ropes and hopping/jumping exercises to your routine as well for speed improvements.

Anaerobic Endurance

Most people know about aerobic endurance, but few know about, or work on, anaerobic endurance. Anaerobic endurance can be thought of how your muscles react to short, high-intensity events. For example, a 100 meter dash. Or carrying a heavy object a short distance. Once the activity past several minutes, aerobic endurance becomes the primary use of the muscles.

For testing your anaerobic endurance, you can use the combination exercise of squat, curl and military press with dumbbells for a short period of high-intensity exercise.

  • Use dumbbells that together total roughly 30 percent of your body weight (that's a pair of 30-pounders if you weigh 200, 15-pound dumbbells if you weight 100 pounds, etc.).
  • Standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold the dumbbells at your sides.
  • Perform a clean squat, to the point that your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • As your standing back up, perform a curl with the dumbbells to shoulder height.
  • Then press the dumbbells overhead, using your legs to help with the movement.
  • Lower your arms to your sides, to the starting position.
  • Repeat the entire compound movement for 1 minute, seeing how many times you can complete it. Do not let your form suffer during this test.

Passing: 20 reps in 1 minute

How to Improve: Although the dumbbells may feel light at first, this is not an easy test. Your muscles will be screaming by the end. You can improve your result by adding this exercise to your routine. Use lighter dumbbells until your able to reach 20 reps, then use a little heavier dumbbells. You can also perform and improve anaerobic endurance using any exercise, such as bench press. Use a barbell with about half your 1 rep max weight on it and do as many reps as you can in 1 minute. If too easy, add some weight.


Mobility, similar to flexibility, is the range of uninhibited movement around a joint. Joint mobility is extremely important in the prevention of injuries. Unfortunately, most people who exercise ignore mobility training. There are many tests for mobility. The one we are doing here is the wall squat check.

  • Stand facing a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes 2 inches from the baseboard and turned slightly out.
  • Keeping your feet flat, chest up, and back naturally arched, see how far you can lower your body without touching the wall or falling backward.

Passing: A full squat (when your hamstrings touch your calves, maintaining form throughout the motion)

How to Improve: Failing this test may be due to a lack of mobility in your ankles and calves and/or upper back. Ankle/calve stretches will help. As will gaining mobility in your upper back by performing stretches targeting this area. Foam rolling your upper back may also help.

Cardiovascular Endurance

When people talk about endurance, this is the type of endurance they're usually referring to: how long you can run, last in a pick-up soccer game, run around a tennis court, etc. Good cardiovascular endurance can not only improve your quality of life by letting you continue whatever you're doing longer, but can also help you live longer. The test we use here is the "beep test". This is the test recommended by Runner's World. Unfortunately, you'll need a beep test app for this test. But you should be able to find a free one.

  • On a track or flat field, mark 2 points 20 meters (about 65 feet) apart.
  • Start the app, and run from one point to the other.
  • When you hear the next beep, run back.
  • Continue until you can't make it from one point to the other point between beeps. (The time between beeps gets shorter as you go.)

Passing: Level 12

How to Improve: Although any type of exercise will have some improvement on your endurance as long as your progressing the intensity, to really improve your cardiovascular endurance, interval training, such as HIIT (high intensity interval training) is believed to be the best. Performing this test once a week or so will also help improve your endurance, as this test is a type of interval training.

Upper-body Power

Strength in the upper-body is something that everyone can relate to. When thinking of fitness, upper-body strength is what many people think of. Our push ups test and our bench press test are great indicators to see how strong your upper-body is compared to others your age. For this overall test, we're using the clapping pushup test, recommended by Runners World.

  • Start in the normal push-up position (arms straight, on toes, body straight from head to toes, knees off the ground).
  • Lower yourself, keeping body straight, until your chest is a couple inches from the ground.
  • Push yourself up with enough force to have your hands leave the floor when you reach the top of the push up.
  • Clap in mid-air, and land back in the starting position.
  • Immediately do your next repetition. Continue until you can't do any more or until your form starts to breakdown (you bend your beck).

Passing: 10 clapping push ups

How to Improve: Work on your upper-body strength. Bench press, tricep exercises, etc. To improve on this specific exercise, add clapping push-ups to your exercise routine. If you can't do any right now, or only 1 or 2, add regular push-ups, working up to push-ups where your able to have your hands leave the floor in the up position. If you can't yet do any push-ups, do them on your knees, or elevate your hands on a step or smith machine.

Overall Power

There is no 1 exercise that can test for overall power. But the dead lift is the closet. Lifting things is a key to a good quality of life. So it makes since that an overall fitness test should see how much you can left. The main muscles used in the dead lift are the hamstrings, glutes (butt) and the muscles in the lower But I want to strongly warn you that lifting a heavy weight without perfect form can be extremely dangerous. So don't attempt this dead lift test unless you have somebody spotting you that can watch your form.

  • With a weighted barbell in front of you, stand with the bar in front of your shins.
  • Bend at your hips and knees, grabbing the bar with hands about shoulder width apart with palms facing back (some people like to do this exercise with the palm of one hand facing back and one palm facing forward).
  • Keeping your back straight, head up (eyes looking at a spot about standing eye level), stand up with the barbell. (This is just an overview of the steps to perform a dead lift. If you are not experienced with this exercise, PLEASE have somebody show you the correct form and watch you as you perform it.)
  • In control, lower the weight to the floor using the same motion you used to lift it.
  • Add weight to the barbell until you can only perform 1 repetition with the weight.

Passing: 1.75 times your body weight

How to Improve: Dead lifts. To improve your dead lifts, do dead lifts. Since this is a strength exercise, lift a weight that allows you to only do 5 or 6 repetitions. When you can do a couple of sets of 8 repetitions, add some weight.


As we age, we start to lose our flexibility. This is one reason so many people pull muscles and other similar injuries as they get older. An area adults are especially stiff are the hamstrings and lower back. A main reason is all the sitting we do. The sit-and-reach test is a good indicator of how tight you are in those areas.

  • This test is a type of static stretch. You should be warmed up before doing any static stretch.
  • Remove your shoes and sit on a flat surface, legs extended in front of the body, toes pointing up and feet slightly apart, with the soles of the feet against the base of the step (if there is no step, just any flat surface will do).
  • Place a ruler on the ground between your legs or on the top of the step.
  • Place one hand on top of the other, then reach slowly forward, keeping your legs straight.
  • At the point of your greatest reach, hold for a couple of seconds, and measure how far you have reached. For more instruction, go to our Sit and Reach page.

Passing: 2 inches past your toes

How to Improve: Perform hip and hamstring stretches almost every day. Best to warm up before any static stretching exercises. Foam rolling is also believed to help in flexibility.

Return to our Fitness Tests main page.

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