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Fitness Testing Newsletter: Using Norms

Hi and welcome to the May 2010 fitness testing newsletter about using Normative Data.

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Fitness Testing Norms

Fitness testing normative data (norms) can be found associated with many fitness tests. Norms are very useful to help guide you in the interpretation of the test results, but it is important for you to understand what they are and the possible limitations of using them.

Use with Caution

If you are using norms to compare and interpret your test results, you must consider if the norms are derived from a test using the same protocol. It is not always clear what the test procedure is by the name of the test, for example a sit up test can be performed in numerous ways, and norms for one procedure may not be relevant for another. It is also important to consider if the norms were derived from a subject population and age group that is similar to your test group. Many tests were developed in a university setting, and university students make up the population group for many test norms. This group may not always reflect the general population (or your group of teenagers, athletes etc). Look for norms based on a similar large homogeneous population, that are up to date, and preferably be of local origin.

Average Values versus Desirable Values

Published norms are generally based on group averages and the range of scores around the mean. Comparing your test results to these norms may tell you how it rated compared to the population average (above average, below average), but it does not indicate if such a score is desirable. For example, a bodyweight norm table from the general population would give average scores and even above average scores that are not very desirable in terms of health. Another example is when testing athletes, they may wish to be at least in the well above average category for many fitness parameters, and above average may actually be a very poor result.

The Norms on Topend Sports

Where known I have included the source of the norms for the fitness tests described on the site, however unfortunately the source of many of these norms has been lost in time. Norms for some of the fitness tests seem to have been republished over and over again, and I doubt if anyone knows where they are originally derived from. I provide norms when available to provide a reference point for you to make sense of test results, even if they may be from a different population group or use a slightly different procedure. You should always use norms with caution, and focus more on individuals improving their particular score.

About this Newsletter

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Rob Wood

Rob's Home of Fitness Testing

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