T Nation

Fitness Testing Program

Hi, all. I’ve been gone a while but now I have to come crawling back for some help on a little problem I have. The United Nations security officers here in Vienna are finally going to be required to go through a yearly fitness test. This is a project I’ve been working on for quite a while and now it’s going to happen. I have been picked to design the fitness test and am trying to get as many examples of fitness testing and scoring tables as I can. So far, the plan is:

  1. 1 1/2 mile run
  2. 200 yard dash
  3. Pull-ups (men), Bent-arm hang (women)
  4. Bodyweight bench press for max reps or max effort bench (undecided).
    What I still need are examples of grading scales for the events which take age and sex into consideration. This has to be a test that is easily administered and reasonable enough for approval. I realize that this may not be the best possible way to test these officers, but it’s a start and much better than nothing. It’s also cheap… big advantage… no money for an obstacle course, unfortunately.
    If anyone is in police-type work and could give me a hand with this I would greatly appreciate it.
    Thanks in advance for all the help.

Hello,
Have you considered something that tests flexibility? How about pushups/minute and situps/minute? Also, like you suggested, some bodyweight exercises like dips or pullups. In my opinion, if they have good control of their bodies, that is pretty important.The running and sprinting looks good to me. As far as a ‘grading’ scheme - what constituted ‘good’ health etc, I cannot help you out. A coach or trainer is better suited to answer those kind of questions.

Thanks, Shrink. I am leaning more toward a bodyweight bench press for reps and pull-ups for upper body strength testing and I have decided to stay away from situps. Situps for time are useless in my opinion and can cause back problems. Done properly situps are fine, but when people get sloppy with rushing through for reps in a time period they don’t really do any good. That’s my take anyway. Flexibility testing is being considered but will probably consist of a simple sit and reach. The idea is simply to get some of these officers off their asses and get into some kind of shape so they can perform if necessary.
Anyone else have a grading scheme for runs comparing men/women and age groups? Run will probably be 3k for men and 2k for women from what I gathered today.
Thanks for any help you can give.

What about testing various aspects of fitness?

For example, some people can sprint well but not perform well on a longer run.

Anyway, what is it envisioned these officers may have to do? Chase someone down? Restrain rowdies? Deal with emergency situations?

For grading, maybe just take the current world record for your test and pin it at the top of the “elite” category.

Then you can drop down through other categories such as “superior”, “advanced”, “pass” and “dnq”.

You might want to make a few of the tests mandatory and then have them pick a subset, such as 5 of 8 or something like that.

This way a lot should be motivated to find something that would let them end up with a “rating” of some type. As an extreme example, a very athletic officer could end up with a fitness rating of triple elite.

Anyway, while you are just designing a test, give people something to strive for and make it fairly easy to achieve something better than a straight pass.

If you do tie the categories to real world levels of capability, as in records, then the ratings will have real meaning. For example, I’ve heard basic fitness levels being described as bodyweight bench, 1.5 x bodyweight deadlift and bodyweight on the bar back squats. That could be the entry into the advanced rating.

Finally, given the nature of their job, dealing with emergencies, can you fit in deadlifts or farmers walks? Emergencies always require picking up the pieces or carrying people away from harm.

Anyhow, some early morning thoughts. Make it meaningful. Make it fun.

why should the distances be different between males and females. the distances should be the same but the women allocated maybe a little bit more time. there is only about 9 minute difference in world record marathon times and about 2 minutes in 5K times which would be about 10 seconds per quarter mile using the 5K results.

If you test the bench and the pull up then you should also test the squat and deadlift. if you using the run as an aerobic endurance test then you should incorporate higher intensity lifts to test maximal strength and strength endurance.

how about a rope climb test, or running up a flight of stairs with a weighted vest for resistance. laters pk

I agree with the run distances and have already gone to a straight 3k run for everyone with a different grading scale for women. I found a great grading scale for the run, sprint, and pulls-ups on the FBI academy training test.
As far as testing the squat and deadlift, that would certanly be ideal and I plan to later incorporate into our quick response team when that finally gets created (another project of mine). As for the other officers, take a look at the local police force where you live. Some are obviously in good shape and others fit the old coffee and doughnut stereotype. Can you imagine the problems involved in getting the second category to do such a fitness test? Believe me, it’s tough enough to sell what I have so far and most of the officers don’t even know about it in detail, yet. I completely agree that in a perfect world we could actually hold these guys to a certain level of REAL fitness. In reality, though, bringing in a new testing system to a group of officers of all ages where some have never been tested at all is a challenge already. We have to start slowly and modify things from there. Baby steps, guys. Baby steps.
By the way… any Marines out there know the bent-arm hang grading scale for women? That would be great to have…

Vroom,
The test will be on a point system and the points will be noted down for yearly appraisals, promotion boards, and any other extra incentives which are competed for. I like the idea of having a category of five events of which they only have to compete in four, but this has to be transparent all around and I’ll have to think on that some more.
I also like the idea of a farmer’s walk, but that would be a hard thing to judge. I wonder if I could get a hold of a lifesize dummy that weighed around 150 lbs… A fireman carry would be great, but we would have to have a realistic dummy to use (besides me). A floppy, heavy, dummy would be the most realistic. I’ll have to get in touch with the local firemen to ask if they have that in their training.
Thanks all for the suggestions… keep 'em coming!

If you are going to incorporate any ‘strength’ tests, I feel that you need to regulate the repetition tempo. I have seen too many times in this type of testing where 20 dips at a X0X0 (fast up, fast down with no pause) counts for more that 15 reps at a 1020 tempo. This way you only count the reps that are completed in the agreed tempo.

[quote]GaryE wrote:
Hi, all. I’ve been gone a while but now I have to come crawling back for some help on a little problem I have. The United Nations security officers here in Vienna are finally going to be required to go through a yearly fitness test. This is a project I’ve been working on for quite a while and now it’s going to happen. I have been picked to design the fitness test and am trying to get as many examples of fitness testing and scoring tables as I can. So far, the plan is:

  1. 1 1/2 mile run
  2. 200 yard dash
  3. Pull-ups (men), Bent-arm hang (women)
  4. Bodyweight bench press for max reps or max effort bench (undecided).
    What I still need are examples of grading scales for the events which take age and sex into consideration. This has to be a test that is easily administered and reasonable enough for approval. I realize that this may not be the best possible way to test these officers, but it’s a start and much better than nothing. It’s also cheap… big advantage… no money for an obstacle course, unfortunately.
    If anyone is in police-type work and could give me a hand with this I would greatly appreciate it.
    Thanks in advance for all the help.[/quote]

As someone who has trained Police Officers and Security Gurards I would discourage using the typical 1 1/2 mile run. I would replace that with a 1/4 mile run. It is more practical relative to the type of work that must be done. You don’t need a 200 yd dash either if you go to the 1/4 mile run. I like the quarter because anyone who can run a fast quarter can run a decent mile and also sprint when he has to.

Naturally, Pull-ups are a great way to test upper body strength relative to body weight. Good job on that!

I see no point in testing the Bench Press, it has little practical carry over, compared to other movements. Better you get a 75lb. sandbag and see how many times that they can lift it from the ground to “carry position” in two minutes. This will test many more muscle groups than the Bench Press, (including some leg strength) and is far more practical relative to job performance.

I think the above meets many of your criteria, including “easy to administer” as you have actually eliminated one event (200 yd dash). And shortened one event to a quarter mile. You have also eliminated the need for Benches Barbells plates etc.

Good Luck,

Zeb

Milkmanjr. Thanks for the suggestion, and that’s precisely why we aren’t doing anything like push-ups, sit-ups, dips, etc.

Zeb, all great suggestions. I have to admit a secret motive of mine to you so you might understand the method to my madness here. I agree with the carryover skills being more necessary, but my plan is also to get these guys/gals doing more as far as fitness training. By having the two types of runs - long plus sprint (now 150m) - we have them doing something “endurance” wise and something with explosive strength. Having both types will hopefully get them out more often to train and get into better shape overall. Pull-ups we agree, so no comment there.
As far as the bench press, this one is tricky. It may not have any direct carry-over to real life, but I feel it is a good test of upperbody strength that compliments the pull-ups. The hope here, also, is to get them in the gym to do more upperbody training and improve pressing strength. We already have the gym on site so the logistics are no problem. A way to grade it still eludes me. So far, I have…

  1. 3k run
  2. 150m sprint
  3. pull ups/men - bent arm hang/women
  4. bodyweight benchpress for reps.
  5. If we can get it… deadweight body fireman carry up stairs. This one will be pass/fail and the idea is to get the idea of just how hard it is to lift a limp human being. (Thanks for the earlier suggestion!) We just need to get the full weight dummy.

So, Zeb, I do agree with you, but I think I neede these extra events to get the people into better shape overall. Keep in mind that these are not elite athletes by any means. I do appreciate the input and would be happy to hear any more ideas, though. I’m not opposed to new ideas at all. Keep em coming.

Just my gut feeling but having non-weight training women (and men) even attempt a bodyweight bench press is a recipe for a set of broken teeth or worse? Are you sure that the bodyweight bench press is a realistic goal?
In most fitness tests, you would do max press-ups in a minute or maximum benchpress repetitions with a 75lb weight.

Kefu… I know what you mean. The latest news today is that we’ll announce the standards this spring and give everyone a year before starting the testing next April. This bench press is a hard thing to test fairly all around and may just become a pass/fail for benching bodyweight for one clean rep. I know it may be hard for some (sadly), but I don’t think it’s an unreasonable thing to ask for.

I wish we could test sooner, but it would just be a disaster. These people really need the time to get up to standard. Once announced it will be up to their initiative to accomplish the goals and a year should be planty of time to at least hit the minimum. We have a few training gurus here who will be available to help out and I have been printing up T-mag articles like crazy and posting them in the gym.

Am still up for hearing any new ideas, so if anyone has something to contribute, please feel free.

That sounds fair enough. If they have a year, I think the sky is the limit. Only fear would be that they become bench monsters and good at nothing else, except you appear to have that covered with the pull-ups.
Would have to slightly disagree with Zeb about the running. You should probably keep the 100m and the mile in. If it was down to one test - it would have be the 800metre, which is considered the king amongst runners, requiring speed and endurance.

Thanks. As far as the running, I want to test both speed and endurance in a way that doesn’t require them to be super athletes but still makes them get off their asses.
Anyone else have some ideas, comments, complaints?
I have the scoring scales made up for everything but the benchpress. Any ideas on that one?

Just want to bump this up a bit and make sure everyone sees it and gives me any ideas they may have. Thanks again for the input so far and thanks in advance for any more coming in.

I feel that most things being discussed here are way out of bounds on a general Physical Training test. Use the KISS principle. The US Military has a basic “PT” test chart a schedule. Army tests on three factors: 2 mile run, push ups and sit ups. Marine Corp adds in the pull-ups. Your thoughts of body weight bench and other suggestions will FAIL over half the participants and will be looked badly upon by the administration.
Just my thoughts…

Thanks for the input, but I disagree. First, this is a fairly simple test and at the same time tests different areas of fitness, ie. strength and endurance. Second, I still don’t think a bodyweight bench press is unreasonable for a person in police-type work. People will have a problem with it, but not much more than they will with the rest. As much as I disagree, though, you are probably right about the administration’s approval. The bench press is hard to sell. I really prefer it over push-ups, but many people are too stuck in their ways to listen. I’ve decided to be just as stuck in my own ways on this one. Sadly, it may come down to push-ups after all, but I haven’t given up.

Why include bench press for reps when its almost considered a joke to use it in sports.

These would be my picks:

1)Standing broad jump
2) 400 meters
3) Chinups to failure

plus two of the following
4) Deadlift
5) Overhead press
6) Sandbag carry for distance or
7) Sandbag lift to shoulder in 2 minutes.

And also could include
8) Chest pass for distance (medecine ball, or tackle dummy?
9) Tire swing-throw for distance.

And if you have to measure longer term endurance, have them
10) Run up 10-15 flights of stairs.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:
Why include bench press for reps when its almost considered a joke to use it in sports.

These would be my picks:

1)Standing broad jump
2) 400 meters
3) Chinups to failure

[/quote]

Some good points there. This is definately an interesting topic and will generate a lot of different opinions.

The 400m or 800m run is almost essential. I wouldn’t pick two run events (i.e. 100m and 1-mile) because it would make the execution of the test a mess (which one first? How much rest between?). I hadn’t thought of the standing broad jump, but it’s a good recommendation - explosive lower body power. The upper body strength/endurance test - bench press for reps of chins for reps…either is fine.

You might want to throw in a fourth event but much more than that is pushing it…I don’t think you want to make the test more than an hour long.

I once took a fitness test that included a basketball throw for distance…I don’t think that’s very common but I enjoyed it. It involved a lot of coordination and explosion.

Have you “field tested” any of your ideas yet?