Multistage Fitness Test or ‘Bleep Test’
The test has become recognised as one of the most popular and valid tests of aerobic fitness and can be used to estimate a person’s maximum oxygen uptake, or VO2 max.
Maximum oxygen uptake has been shown to increase with appropriate training. However, for an individual a large component part of their VO2 max level is determined genetically so improvements will reach a ceiling level. The most accurate way of measuring VO2 max levels is in a laboratory but this involves the use of expertise and specialised equipment. The bleep test is a means of obtaining an approximate VO2 max level for individuals through the use of a simple test that requires very little equipment.
The person carrying out the test has to carry out a series of shuttle runs between two lines exactly 20 metres apart, keeping in time with a series of audio signals (or bleeps). The timing begins very slowly but becomes progressively faster each minute so that it becomes harder to maintain the set pace. When the running speed increases at the start of each minute the test enters a new level. The runner stops when he or she can no longer maintain the running speed and his or her score is recorded as the final level and number of shuttles completed (for example, 4 shuttles completed on level 9, 10 shuttles on level 11 and so on). This score is then used to obtain a VO2 max estimate from the table below and also can be used as a reference point against which future changes can be monitored.
Prior to carrying out the test runners should carry out a thorough warm up and mobilisation programme so that their bodies are ready for the test conditions.
 A person’s maximum oxygen uptake value represents the maximum amount of oxygen which can be extracted from the external environment (the air breathed in) and transported to the working muscles. This is measured in millimetres of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute.