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 always 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.

Getting Started

You'll need a few items to perform and/or measure each of these fitness tests. The tools you'll want to have handy include:

  • BMI test: bathroom scale
  • 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 friend 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.

The BMI Measurement

feet on scale
Image Source / Getty Images

BMI or body mass index is a formula that estimates your ideal body fat percentage based upon weight and height. Although it's an indirect measure of body composition, it is considered a fairly reliable indicator of both body fat and ideal weight recommendations for most people.

Unlike direct body composition measurements, BMI can't tell you how much of your weight is muscle and how much is fat. A bodybuilder, for example, can show up as having a high BMI because of the added muscle. Though, for the average person, it's a simple way to track progress during a weight loss program.

How to Do It

To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared, then multiply that number by 703.

For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds and are 5 feet 5 inches tall (65 inches), your BMI is 24.96 ([150 ÷ (65 x 65)] x 703 = 24.96).

Another option is to use an online calculator. Enter your sex, age, height, and weight below and it will calculate BMI for you.

What Your Results Mean

A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 suggests that you are at a healthy weight. If your BMI is above 25, it may indicate a need to look at your diet as well as exercise. A BMI below 18.5 suggests that you may be underweight.

The Core Strength and Stability Test

man and woman in plank position
The core strength and stability test is a good and challenging way to measure your core strength. Tetra Images/Getty Images

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 of the plank position utilized.

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 are considered to have good core strength. If not, this suggests that your core strength and stability could benefit from a regular core workout.

The Push-Up Test

woman doing push up
Tom Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

The push-up test 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 pushups 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."

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.

The 12-Minute Run Test

Woman running outside
stevecoleimages/Getty Images

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 while 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?

The six tests often used to help determine one's fitness level are:

  • A flexibility test
  • An endurance test
  • An upper body strength test
  • A core strength test
  • A target heart rate test
  • A body size calculation

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.

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Article 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. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Body mass index: considerations for practitioners.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About adult BMI. Reviewed Sep 17, 2020.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. McArdle WD, Katch FI, Katch VL. Essentials of Exercise Physiology: Fifth Edition. 2015

  6. Farrell S. 50 years of the Cooper 12-minute run. The Cooper Institute. Published Jun 08, 2018.

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

Additional Reading
  • McArdle, William D. Exercise Physiology. Lippincott Williams and Wilkens, 2014.