Test Your Fitness

Test your fitness
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Take these tests every two months and make a note of how you perform each time to see how your fitness is improving. Before doing any of them, warm up by spending ten minutes doing some light cardio such as running or rowing until you are puffing gently. Then do several light sets of the specific exercise to prepare your muscles.

1. Strength-to-weight ratio: Pull-up

What it tests Your ability to control your own bodyweight. The pull-up is one of the great tests of power to weight.

How to do it Hang from a bar with an overhand grip. Pull up until your chin is over the bar, then lower without swinging.


  • 0-3 reps - Poor 
  • 4-8 reps - Average 
  • 9-15 reps - Good 
  • 16+ reps - Excellent

2. Core stability: Plank

What it tests The strength of your core muscles – the ones around your midriff – which are vital in maintaining good posture and preventing injury.

How to do it Lie with your body in a straight line from head to heels, with your weight on your elbows. Hold the position for as long as you can. As soon as your hips sag, time’s up.


  • Under 20 seconds – Poor 
  • 21-45 seconds – Average 
  • 46-70 seconds – Good 
  • 71+ seconds – Excellent

3. Explosive power: Vertical leap

What it tests Your fast-twitch muscles, which you use in dynamic movements such as jumps, sprints and heavy lifts.

How to do it Stand next to a wall holding a pencil. With your feet flat on the floor, reach up and mark the highest point you can manage on the wall. From standing, leap as high as you can and mark the high point. Now measure the distance between the two marks.


  • Under 30cm – Poor 
  • 31cm-45cm – Average 
  • 45cm-55cm – Good 
  • Above 56cm – Excellent

4. Upper-body strength: Bench press

Strength in your chest, triceps, deltoids and core.

How to do it Lie on a bench and hold a barbell above your chest. Lower the barslowly to your chest and press it back up without arching your back. Find the heaviest weight (in kg) you can press for 10 perfect reps. Now multiply the weight by 1.33 to get your one-rep max.


  • Below 70% of your bodyweight – Poor 
  • 70%-90% of your bodyweight – Average 
  • 91%-120% of your bodyweight – Good 
  • Above 120% of your bodyweight – Excellent

5. Endurance: Elevated run

What it tests Your cardiovascular endurance.  

How to do it Run on a treadmill at 8km/h with no elevation. After one minute, increase the speed to 9km/h and the elevation to 1%. Every minute thereafter, increase the speed by 1km/h and the elevation by 1%. Do this for as long as you can.


  • Under 4 minutes – Poor 
  • 4-6 minutes – Average 
  • 6-8 minutes – Good 
  • Above 8 minutes – Excellent

6. Lower body strength: barbell back squat

What it tests The strength of your quads (thighs), hamstrings and glutes (buttocks). 

How to do it Start with a barbell across the back of your shoulders. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then push back to the start. Find the heaviest weight (in kg) you can lift ten times. Now multiply that weight by 1.54 to get your “one rep max”.


  • Below 80% of your bodyweight - Poor 
  • 80%-100% of your bodyweight - Average 
  • 101%-150% of your bodyweight - Good 
  • Above 150% of your bodyweight - Excellent

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.