Friday, February 09, 2007

You love to hate it - the Beep Test

I've recently had a request for information about the notorious "Beep Test".

If your not familiar with the Beep Test, IT SUCKS. It's a standard fitness test designed to calculate an athlete's VO2 max, the efficiency at which the body utilizes oxygen. The Beep Test is a very accurate gauge of an athletes aerobic fitness, and there is certainly an element of mental toughness as well. As stated in the instructions for the Beep Test, the athlete must continue until they are physically incapable of continuing. In other words, you're supposed to continue until you're body quits - pain, suffering, and despair must be put out of your mind to get an accurate score.

During my playing days, the Beep Test was standard at select sides. As our sport has become more sophisticated, the Beep Test itself has fallen out of favor. Flat out aerobic fitness is not nearly as important as speed endurance, recovery time, and explosiveness. As such, many coaches have gone to different tests - specifically the 150 meter shuttle, the T-test, and of course, the 40 Yard Dash. The Canadians in addition to other things, do the Triple Jump.

With the popularity of iPods and other mp3 devices, I thought it might be worthwhile to provide the Beep Test as a downloadable file. If you're unfamiliar with the test format, it goes like this:

Set up cones 20 meters apart. Athletes start on one cone, and in tempo with the beeps, run back and forth between cones. Every minute, the tempo increases and the beeps come closer together. Athletes continue running until they cannot reach the opposite cone before the beep. Protocol says that the athlete has one chance to "catch up", but if they miss the cone twice in a row, they are done.

Scores are calculated based upon 1) the level reached, and 2) the number of repetitions. For example, 6.1 means the athlete reached level 6 (the levels are called out loud on the recording) and competed 1 shuttle (a shuttle is just "there", not "there and back"). A 14.12 would mean the athlete reached level 14 and did 12 shuttles. Typically athletes are paired up so that while one is running, the other is counting. I've seen female rugby players score anywhere from an abysmal 3.6 to a ridiculously impressive 15.8. The test goes all the way to level 23 ... YIKES!

Anyway - the Beep Test can be a useful training tool - a metronome for running, so to speak. I remember a particular program that incorporated progressive sections of the Beep Test - for example one week you might do levels 6-8 four times, and progress through the program by adding more repetitions or starting at a higher level. I remember it sucked from a 'personal suffering' perspective, but I also remember amping up my work rate and cutting bodyfat substantially.

The Beep Test - mp3 (16K). Right click to save, double click to play.

Beep .... Beep .... Beep ... BeepdiddleyBeep .... Right click to save ...


Your Scrumhalf Connection said...

haha we called it the bleep in #*@(# test. jeez i hate that test with a passion. but if its required, i bust my butt!

Anonymous said...

I used to have to run this in gym class, and it was awful. Thankfully I haven't had to run it since Junior year, but that doesn't mean I like the 150 meter shuttle either.


Anonymous said...

I actually liked the bleep college anyway...I haven't run it in 4 or 5 years...I'm kind of curious how i'd do though!

Anonymous said...

It's true the beep test sucks, but at the usa camps I always preferred it to the 150m shuttles - I'm in excellent shape, but I have asthma, and in a game and in the beep test I can control it, there's a rhythm and pace to everything right! But in the 150m shuttles, my lungs can't adjust or recover and I always feel like I punk out :) --Heidi

Anonymous said...

I haven't done this in 6 years, but I have to say, I loved it! I think it should be offered in every school for PE at least once a month - not only does it show how fit you are, but it increases competitiveness between classmates if it's done in groups. A real fun activity, and often a laugh (at the starting levels).

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