The beep test is a killer, isn’t it? What starts off as an easy jog soon turns in to several minutes of grueling effort, as the beeps steadily catch up with you.
The Beep Test and its more recent alternative, the Yo-Yo test, are staple fitness tests that you can easily do yourself to test your fitness. The advantage that they have is that they are both easily set-up and provide a universal measure of how fit you are.
Some jobs, such as the police or the army make these tests mandatory for new recruits – that’s how useful they are. As far as sport is concerned, they are in wide-scale use among professional teams and players.
Make no doubts about it, these tests are tough. If you’re going to do them, you should be as prepared as you possibly can so that when it’s all over and your’e panting heavily, lying on the floor, you can do so with a smile on your face, knowing your score is the very best it can be.
Here are our top 8 tips for making sure that you perform to your limits.
1. Improve your level of fitness
It’s so blindingly obvious that it almost seems an insult to call this a ‘tip’. However, whilst the other tips below should each add a little extra onto your performance, this is the only sure way to make big progress.
The test is supposed to measure your underlying fitness levels, so the best way to ace the test is to get as fit as you possibly can. In the long term, there are no fitness gains without being prepared to push yourself, but it’s all about knowing how to make your battle to be fit as simple and easy as you can.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to get started or what’s best for you to do, which is why we’ve put together a guide: how to train for the beep test, which should help make the task of getting fit as painless as possible.
If you can’t improve your fitness level before you next take the test then don’t panic, you can still follow the tips below to maximise your score.
2. Perform a warm up
The audio tracks to some of the tests include a specific instruction that you should warm up before-hand, and some don’t. Either way, make sure that you do one.
If you do not do a warm-up then you probably will not perform at your best and, more worryingly, you could risk injury which could set your fitness back several levels.
Ideally you should spend five to ten minutes warming up before you do the test. Your routine should take you through some gentle jogging, dynamic stretching, and then gentle turning motions to ready you for the requirements of the test.
Get your blood pumping and your muscles warm, but avoid doing anything so vigorous that it wears you out for the actual test!
3. Turn efficiently
One of the comments you will usually hear from people who have done the beep test is that it’s the turning that makes it so very difficult. The argument usually goes that it wouldn’t be that hard to run this distance in one straight line, but the physical effort of turning is what really starts to sap your energy in the later stages.
Consider the following three things:
- You can turn by placing one foot on the line. It’s not necessary to put your foot over the end line and, though the extra distance of doing this might be small, that wasted extra half-stride might make a big difference to you as the test goes on.
- Make sure your turning mechanic is good. When your foot touches the line, dip into the turn a little before pushing back away. Keep your turns on the spot and straight rather than wasting time and energy performing wide U-turns.
- Which foot should you turn with? That’s completely up to you – do whichever feels right and try it on both. Maybe you have one foot that you turn more comfortably on. One of the tips we’ve heard that worked for somebody was to turn with a different foot each time which distributed the stress across both legs and also gave the participant something to keep track of and keep their mind occupied.
4. Prepare your body properly
Tune-up your body ready for the test by making sure that:
- You are properly hydrated, making sure that you take on liquids in advance of the test
- You have eaten a light meal plenty of time approximately 1-2 hours before the test. You should find that these pre-match meal ideas will give you the fuel you need for the test.
- You have had enough sleep
Also, before you do the test – make sure that you use the bathroom. It’s difficult enough doing the test, never mind trying to do it with a full bladder!
5. Mentally toughen yourself up
For a lot of people the limits to their achievements on these tests are primarily psychological. Make sure that when the going starts to get tough (and believe us it will get very tough) you don’t give up easily.
Your body is going to tire and tell you it wants to quit at some stage. When this happens you need to have your mind play the role of unforgiving Drill-Sergent rather than letting your body tap-out at the first sign of it getting difficult – don’t accept lame excuses.
It may be surprising how far the ‘just one more shuttle’ attitude can take you in this test – some people are capable of getting a whole level or more further than where their first thought of quitting comes!
Alex, a veteran of the beep test, told us the following, which we thought was awesome enough to include here:
“I always set a competition or goal for myself which is to be the last one running. Mental goals is one of the biggest aspects of this test. When you are about to give up, always go for one more. I personally won’t quit until I stumble and miss a beep.”
At the end of the day it is just a test and your performance will vary at times. Don’t focus on it as a pass or fail event. Go and do your best; you can’t worry about anything else as long as you don’t give up.
In order to give you the extra motivation not to quit, you might also find it useful to have another person encouraging you through the test. Alternatively, channel your thoughts onto something that avoids focusing on how difficult the test is getting.
6. Pace yourself and play your own game
When you are running these tests in a group, it can often be tempting to focus too much on the other participants. This can lead to a lot of unhelpful comparisons: ‘should I be keeping up with her?’; ‘am I faster than him?’; ‘they don’t look like they’re tired at all’.
Don’t try to run another person’s test. Just worry about yourself and keep pace with the beep – there’s nothing to be gained by charging off too quickly or trying to match anybody else.
Some of the first people that give up early on the beep test are the ones who run the fastest at the beginning. Too many people get really pumped up for the beep test that they waste a lot of energy in the early stages, when a gentle jogging pace will be fine. Save your energy for the later stages.
7. Perform the test in favorable conditions.
If somebody else is setting the test for you, this is often not something that you can influence. However, if you do get the choice over where and when you do the test, you should remember that any extreme heat, wind, or rain may impair your score.
8. Ignore the boasters
Sooner or later you are going to have someone tell you that they did the beep test without any training and easily reached level 14, or something ludicrously high. If they really did, then good for them but never believe a score unless you’ve actually seen it – at best they didn’t have the test set up correctly or were doing a different test; at worst their result is just pure fantasy.
Remember, there are a lot of different variations of these tests and extraordinary results can be achieved if the tests aren’t set up properly. The chances are that these boasters either are doing a different test to you, or are not performing it correctly. Most commonly this is a result of running ahead of the beeps or measuring out the shuttle distances slightly short (both of which are not allowed).
Over to you
We’d love to hear your experience of the Beep Test and the tips that have worked for you. Tell us in the comments below:
- What level did you score?
- Have the tips above worked for you?
- Are there any other tips you can suggest?
Other articles that should help:
How to train for the beep test – a guide that will take you through the most effective methods to train for the beep test.
The Beep Test – a Comprehensive Guide – The classic fitness test. Over 30 years old, still in use for general fitness testing. Here’s everything you need to know.
The Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test: King of Soccer Fitness Tests – the test of choice for soccer players
The Physical and Mental Benefits of 5-a-side – Not only is 5-a-side soccer a fun game, it’s actually one of the best ways to get fit too!