Versions of the Beep Test

There are many versions of the test commonly called the beep test, with small variations in test timings. The standard 20m test has evolved a little since it was first introduced in 1982. Depending on the source of the test, the test timings and distance used may vary a little.

History

The beep test was originally developed from the University of Montreal Track Test, an incremental continuous running aerobic fitness test conducted around a 400m running track, which followed audio cues that increased the pace every two minutes. The 20m shuttle run test evolved from this by reducing the space required and making it possible to perform the test indoors so that environmental conditions could be controlled. The original shuttle run test article by Léger and Lambert (1982) described a protocol of two-minute stages or levels, which was reduced to one-minute stages when published two years later (Léger et al. 1984).

Current Variations

Since the original paper describing the beep test by Léger and Lambert in 1982, there have been a few variations of the test published. Most of the test versions are very similar, though the names used to describe it may sound like they are very different tests. The test has been variously described as the beep or bleep test, multi-stage fitness test, MSFT, MST, 20 meter shuttle run test, yo-yo endurance test, PACER and Aero tests. In French it is called the 'Test de Luc-Léger'. Some people incorrectly call it the yo-yo test, which is a different test. (What do you call it?)

Beep Test Image

It is important when you interpret the results of the test that you understand what version you are using and you should ensure that you have norms relevant to that version. For a comprehensive review of protocols, see the article by Tomkinson et al. (2003). As an example, the Beep Shuttles page lists the number of shuttles for two different versions of the test.

The protocol presented in the original study by Léger et al. (1984) starts at a speed of 8.5 km/hr and increases by 0.5 km/hr for each one minute stage. For some reason, many of the subsequent versions made started at 8.0 km/hr, jumped up to 9.0 km/hr then 0.5 km/hr for each stage thereafter. As this only affected the speeds of the early stages, and that starting speeds are quite slow, there is effectively no difference in results between these protocols.

Differences Around the World

A version has been published by the British National Coaching Foundation, which is a variant on that originally described by Léger et al. (1984). Participants start at a speed of 8.0 km/hr, with the second stage at 9.0 km/hr, and thereafter there is an increase in speed by 0.5 km/hr each stage. The test is called the 'Bleep Test' in the UK. (see this Beep Table for details of each level).

The Australian Coaching Council (under the banner of the Australian Sports Commission) have produced two versions of the 20 meter shuttle run test, with one-minute stages (or levels). The speeds and levels of each version are the same. As in the British version mentioned above, the participants start at a speed of 8.0 km/hr, with the second stage at 9.0 km/hr, and thereafter there is an increase in speed by 0.5 km/hr each stage.

Out of Ireland came the Queen’s University of Belfast protocol (Riddoch, 1990), which is a hybrid of the two protocols above, starting at 8.0 km/hr and increasing by 0.5 km/hr for each one minute stage. Thanks to the detective work of Dan Ford, it appears that the iphone beep test application uses this test protocol. You would expect to perform better using this protocol, as most stages are at a slower speed compared to the other protocols.

I was also sent a version that is being used in Canada, which starts at 8.5 km/hr and increases by 0.5 km/hr (as per the original by Luc-Léger, himself from Canada), though the test begins at zero stage, rather than stage or level 1. The recorded results are therefore off by one level compared to most other versions.

List of Variaitons

References (see more)

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