For a couple of weeks now we’ve been mentioning the beep test as a way to test your fitness for 5-a-side. It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have a go at it ourselves. So the Gaffer set out to take on the challenge – how would I score?
Apart from leading to potential embarrassment for me, this should be a good way to let you know not only what you should expect on the test if you’re to do it for yourself, but also as a way of me letting you know my progress over time, as I’m planning on taking the beep test a couple more times and updating this post.
The first test
It’s well over 15 years since I did this test in my early teens at school. I only had vague recollections of doing it then, but I remember it being hard. But mind you, everything was hard in my early teens, so perhaps with the extra passage of time it might have grown easier – there was only one way to find out.
So, just two weeks ago, cones laid exactly 20m apart on a grass field, myself and a fellow participant set off rather too enthusiastically on level 1 of the beep test at a good jogging pace, not realising just how slow it is to start.
When we finished the first 20m run with several seconds to spare before the beep, we rejoiced in needing to slow down and began to think that maybe this test wouldn’t be difficult after all!
And so this delusion continued through levels 2, 3, and 4 as walking speed very gently progressed to jogging speed – still comfortable, we even had spare capacity for some conversation as we trotted along.
The turning point
The thing about the beep test is that fairly soon, the fun turns to difficulty, and then difficulty turns to sheer pain.
Everyone is going to have a level where things suddenly start to get noticeably difficult.
For me, this began on the transition from level 6 to 7. At this point the conversation had all but dried up as myself and my running companion both nervously realised the test had started to hit serious levels.
Level 6, is a teaser; it combines a strange sense of achievement with a looming sense of dread that it’s going to get quite bad, quite quickly.
Did you know that you only need a level 6 score to fulfill certain positions in the UK police force (or to get into the Canadian forces, for that matter)?! (According to Wikipedia)
It’s not an impressive level to reach at all and frankly doesn’t give me much faith in the police apprehending many criminals in a foot-race. But nevertheless, when you pass level 6 you may take some dubious comfort that a life of crime is just one step more attainable.
The step up to Level 7 caught me by surprise with the beeps coming quicker than expected. This was the first stage at which I began to start struggling. It was a push to reach level 8.
If level 7 was a struggle, 8 was where the pain became real and palpable. It seemed a huge task to get enough oxygen in my lungs and to power my legs onward.
Having to continually stop, pivot and then go again at each end every few seconds is really exhausting and feels a lot harder than it would be to run the equivalent total distance in a straight line. Make sure you’re doing this as efficiently as possible – as we recommend here.
After reaching level 9 and really pulling myself along on pride alone, my body hadn’t got enough capacity to stay with the beeps. Like the scene at the end of Titanic when a frozen and lifeless Leonardo DiCaprio lets go of the wood he’s clinging to, his corpse lost to the ocean – my grip on the dreams I had of making level 10 loosened and it was test over for me. Level 9.2, final result.
Was I pleased with a score of 9.2 result? Yes and no.
We’ve covered elsewhere that in order to play 5-a-side well at an amateur level you need to register a beep test score of level 10. So falling short of this benchmark was an obvious disappointment.
But on the other hand there are some reasons to be optimistic. At the moment I’m not playing any 5-a-side and haven’t done any meaningful exercise for 6 months now because of a back problem. So level 9 in those circumstances is a fairly respectable result and isn’t far off the minimum pre-season result that the Manchester Futsal Club players recorded.
A score of level 10 would have been great, 11 even better and my long term target of 12 would have been a dream. But it’s a start, and something to build on – I’ll be back as I continue my recuperation from injury to see where I can get to when I start hitting the 5-a-side court again. Subscribe to the blog to make sure you don’t miss out on any future updates.
If you want to challenge yourself with the beep test and work out how fit you are for 5-a-side, see our ultimate guide to it here.
Other articles you might enjoy
The physical and mental benefits of 5-a-side – there are loads. More than there are in just jogging – it might surprise you!
How fit to I need to be for 5-a-side – what did the Manchester Futsal Players score in a fitness test and how would you compare?