How fit are you ? Before you begin any form of exercise regime, it is important that you run a couple of tests on yourself to gauge your current level of fitness.
Exercise is strenuous and we suggest that before you carry out any physical activity, or are starting a regime of exercise, you contact your GP to see if the exercises are suitable for your current level.
Resting Heart Rate
The first thing is to establish your resting heart rate. This is the speed at which your heart is pumping when your body is at rest. The best time to do this is first thing in the morning, just after you have woken up. Use a watch and put it where your can see the second hand or counter. Take your left wrist in your right hand and lightly press the tips of your right index and middle fingers into the space just below your thumb. Move your fingers around until you can feel a pulsing sensation – and there you are! Once you can feel the pulse strongly, look at your watch and measure off 15 seconds while, at the same time, counting the number of beats you get from your pulse. Multiply the result by 4 and that is your resting heart rate per minute. Now compare the result with the table below.
Beats per minute
- 100 – Unfit
- 75 – Average
- 50 – Very Fit
A female heart tends to beat slightly faster than a male heart does. Women can give themselves 5 beats per minute leeway on these figures.
The beats will go down as you get fitter because your heart pumps more blood with each beat and so needs to beat less often to do the same job. Remember that the heart is a muscle, so the fitter you become, the fitter your heart will become!
There are two ways that we assess a person’s fitness in the fire service
- Chester Step Test
- Multi Shuttle Test or Bleep Test as it is more commonly known.
Other ways to test your fitness levels include 2 simple running exercises.
All you need is a stopwatch and a space to run in. These tests will push you to the limit, so if you have not done any exercise in a while then we strongly suggest that you check your general health with a GP before trying them.
This test will rate your anaerobic fitness, or the level at which your muscles are able to operate without using oxygen to power them. This test is useful for checking that your training programme is producing balanced results. If your test results improve over time, it means that you are making gains.
Mark out 35 metres on a running surface. Complete a thorough 15 minute warm up with emphasis on running movements.
- Stand in a ready position with your back leg slightly behind you and stopwatch ready to go. You can time yourself but it is preferable to get a training partner to do it
- Sprint flat out for 35 metres. Record your time and compare to the chart below.
- Less than 4.8 seconds Excellent
- 4.8 to 5.5 seconds Good
- 5.6 to 6.0 seconds Average
- More than 6 seconds Poor
The 12 Minute Run Test
This will show your aerobic fitness, or the ability of your body to use oxygen to power it while running. The score from this test can also be used to give you your approximate VO2 max score.
- Find a running track or set a treadmill to level 1 incline to mimic outdoor running. Complete a thorough 15 minute warm up
- Run as far as you can in 12 minutes. A flat out sprint will not be possible so pace yourself but push as hard as you can go. If you overdo it and have to slow down, do not stop – walking is allowed. Compare your results to the chart below.