Variations of the Beep Test

There are many variations of the test commonly called the beep test. The standard 20m test has evolved since it was first introduced in 1982. Depending on the source of the test, the test timings and distance used may vary. For a comprehensive listing of information about the Beep Test, see the Beep Test Home.


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 each minute. The 20m shuttle run test evolved from this by reducing the space required and making it possible to perform indoors so that environmental conditions could be controlled. The original article by Léger and Lambert (1982) described a protocol of two minute stages or levels, which was reduced to one minute stages when presented in an article 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 or 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'. (What do you call it?)

Beep Test ImageIt 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. Due to running speed differences, there can sometimes be small differences between versions in the number of laps for each minute stage too.

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.

Differences in Distance

Also be aware that even though the timing of the test may be similar, some versions use 15 meters between lines (PACER test as used by FitnessGram and Brockport) or 40 meters (Birtwell Test) compared to the usual 20 meters, and in the US the imperial measurement equivalent 22 yards (20.117 meters) is sometimes used. There is a conversion chart to convert scores on the 15m PACER to a 20m score to enter in the FitnessGram software.

Variations described on this site

Sport/Group Specific

The principles of the running beep test have been used to develop a version of the test for determining the aerobic fitness athletes in other sports, specific populations and for other modalities.

Beep Type Intermittent Tests

Other Variations

John Miller has developed a variation of this type of test, combining the beep test with a set time distance run. The test is compact, being run in a 20m area, and can be completed in just 5 minutes. See more on the Miller 20m Run.

Make Your Own

You can create your own variation of the beep test using the team beeptest software. Shuttle distance, running speed, and shuttles per level can all be adjusted to modify the test in any way you wish.

References (see more)


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There are over 300 fitness tests, so it's not easy to choose the best one. You should consider the validity, reliability, costs and ease of use of each test. Use our guide to conducting, recording, and interpreting fitness tests. Any questions, please ask or search for your answer. To keep up with the latest in sport science and this website, subscribe to our newsletter. We are also on facebook and twitter.

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