Simple Tests to Measure Your Fitness Level at Home

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Fitness tests are a great way to check your fitness level when beginning a new workout routine. They can also help you track your progress, making it easier to determine where you may need to make changes in your exercise plan in order to keep advancing.

If you want an elaborate and expensive assessment of your fitness level, you can go to a sports performance lab. But for the majority of people, this is unnecessary and, sometimes, unaffordable.

Instead, you can identify and track your fitness level by performing a few simple tests at home. Always be sure that you've talked with your doctor before beginning or increasing physical activity to make sure it's safe for you.

Fitness Test

Use a fitness test to see what your current fitness level and abilities are before you start a new fitness program. You'll need a few items to perform each of these fitness tests. The tools you'll want to have handy:

  • Core strength and stability test: Stopwatch, exercise mat (optional)
  • Push-up test: Stopwatch, exercise mat (optional)
  • 12-minute run test: Stopwatch, someplace to run

It may also be helpful to have a helper count your push-up repetitions, keep time during the core test, or calculate the distance you run. Write your fitness test results in your journal or record them in your favorite fitness app to keep better track of your progress.

Core Strength and Stability Test

man and woman in plank position
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This test not only assesses core strength and stability, as its name suggests, but it measures upper body strength as well. It is sometimes referred to as the plank fitness test because it uses the plank position to assess strength.

An advantage of this test is its simplicity, as well as how it engages multiple muscles that help support the core. This test can give you a good read on your current core strength and can be used to follow your progress over time.

People who can do a hundred crunches are sometimes surprised when they can't fully complete this test. Try it and see for yourself. If you can't finish the test, however, don't fret. It simply means that you need to work at improving your core strength.

How to Do It

To perform this fitness test, get into a plank position, resting your forearms on the ground. Hold this position for 60 seconds, then lift your right arm off the ground for 15 seconds. Return that arm to the ground, then your left arm for the same amount of time.

Next, move on to your legs. First, lift your right leg for 15 seconds. Return it to the ground and then lift your left leg for 15 seconds. Return it to the ground.

Next, lift both the right arm and left leg at the same time, holding for 15 seconds. Return them to the ground and lift your left arm and right leg for 15 seconds. Lower those back to the ground and hold the initial plank position for 30 seconds.

What Your Results Mean

If you're able to make it through this progression, you have good core strength. If not, this suggests that your core strength and stability could benefit from a regular core workout.

Push-Up Test

woman doing push up
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The push-up has been around for a very long time because it is simple and effective, both as an upper body exercise and as a way to measure upper body strength and fitness.

Upper body strength is essential for many athletes. It's also beneficial for parents who pick up children or college students who carry heavy backpacks, and is often a good indication of overall fitness.

How to Do It

To perform the push-up test, begin in a push-up position before lowering your body until your elbows are bent at 90-degree angles. Straighten the arms and return to the starting position. This counts as one repetition.

Do as many push-ups as you can while still keeping good form (your toes, hips, and shoulders should all be in a straight line). Records the number you were able to complete.

If it is too difficult to do push-ups while up on your feet, you can also do them on your knees.

What Your Results Mean

Results vary on this test according to age and gender. For example, a male in his 30s who can do 44 or more push-ups is thought to be in "excellent" shape, but if he can do 12 push-ups or less, his fitness level is considered "very poor." But for a woman in her 50s, 29 or more push-ups indicates "excellent" shape.

Regardless of where you fall on a push-up fitness test chart, it's helpful to track your progress by performing this test every two to three months. This helps you see whether your upper body strength training is working and if you're getting stronger.

12-Minute Run Test

Woman running outside
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The 12-minute run test or "Cooper test" was developed by Dr. Ken Cooper in the 1960s as a way for the military to measure aerobic fitness and provide an estimate of VO2 max. The run test is still used today and is a simple way to assess aerobic fitness.

How to Do It

This test should be performed after a thorough warm-up. It's also best performed on a track so you can accurately measure the distance (or along a road or trail where you can use GPS).

To do it, run for 12 minutes. Next, plug the distance you ran into one of these formulas to get an estimate of your VO2 Max.

  • Kilometers: VO2 max = (22.351 x kilometers) - 11.288
  • Miles: VO2 max = (35.97 x miles) - 11.29

What Your Results Mean

Your fitness level is determined based on your age, sex, and how far you were able to run. A female in her 40s is said to be in above-average condition if she can run between 1,900 and 2,300 meters in 12 minutes; a man in his 40s has to run 2,100 to 2,500 meters to achieve this same fitness level.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a basic fitness test?

A basic fitness test includes exercises designed to test muscular strength as well as cardiovascular fitness. The exact exercises used to perform these tests can vary. Squats can be used to assess leg strength, for instance, and a step test can help determine cardio fitness.

What are the 6 basic fitness tests?

These six tests are often used to help determine fitness level.

  • A flexibility test, such as the sit and reach
  • An endurance test, such as the Cooper test
  • An upper body strength test, such as the push-up test
  • A core strength test, such as the plank test
  • A target heart rate test
  • A body size calculation, such as weight

How can you determine how fit you are?

All of these tests can help you determine your fitness level. The first step is to decide exactly what you want to assess, such as upper body strength or cardiovascular endurance. Then complete a test designed to measure that specific aspect of fitness.

Which is the best fitness test?

No one fitness test is better than the other as they all measure different things. If you're concerned about accuracy, you may want to contact a sports performance lab and have them conduct a few fitness tests. They will have access to the latest techniques and the most advanced testing equipment.

A Word From Verywell

The fitness tests above can all be done from the comfort of your home or on neighborhood roads or track. Combined, these tests can give you a good idea of your overall fitness. Individually, they may help you determine what you need to work on.

For example, if you struggle with the core strength and stability, you may need to work on building your core muscles. Conversely, difficulty with the push-up test may signal a need to work on your upper body strength.

All in all, these tests can be a source of motivation to begin or continue a fitness regimen designed to keep you in the best condition possible.

5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Jones M. Effect of compensatory acceleration training in combination with accommodating resistance on upper body strength in collegiate athletes. Open Access J Sports Med. 2014;5:183-9. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S65877

  2. Vaara J, Kyrolainen H, Niemi J, et al. Associations of maximal strength and muscular endurance test scores with cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(8):2078-86. doi:10.1519/SC.0b013e31823b06ff

  3. McArdle WD, Katch FI, Katch VL. Essentials of Exercise Physiology: Fifth Edition. Wolters Kluwer, 2015.

  4. Farrell S. 50 years of the Cooper 12-minute run. The Cooper Institute.

  5. National Register of Personal Trainers. 12 minute Cooper test.

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.