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Lucas 12 Test

The Lucas 12 Test, developed by Frank Lucas PhD, is a modification – or enlargement – of the original Cooper test designed by Kenneth Cooper in 1968 for US military use. The Lucas test not only includes 12 minutes of running like in the Cooper test, additionally there is 12 minutes of rowing and cycling exercise.

The Original Cooper Test

In the original form of the Cooper test the whole point of the test is to measure how far an individual can run in 12 minutes.

The Cooper Test gave American military planners a good assessment of the general fitness of raw recruits. The test is meant to be run at the fastest steady pace that the individual can attain. A great result is anything over 3,000 m. A world record would be anything approaching 5,000m. A distance of less than a mile is weak.

By the nature of military tests all that was required was a watch and a track marked out at 10m intervals. Recruits could then be divided into various fitness categories easily and en masse. The popularization of gyms since the 1970's gave me the idea to invent a new test using common equipment in urban gyms.

Test Description

In the LUCAS 12 test the Cooper test (now run on a treadmill at a zero incline) is augmented by a 12 minute row on the maximum level (either level 10 or 12 on most machines) followed by a 12 minute cycle at level 12 - hence the name.

In the rowing phase a similar method is adapted as is used for running; basically the best result will be attained at a steady pace as the red or slow oxidative muscle cells should be used. Anaerobic exercise or sprint / slow techniques will quickly lead to poor results. The distance achieved in 12 minutes is noted and added to the distance that was achieved in the run. A result of anything over 3,000m (2:00 min splits / 500m) is excellent and anything below 2,000m is weak.

In the third and final phase the stationary upright bicycle is used on the level 12 resistance setting which, at a cadence of 100 revolutions per minute will give a power output of roughly 250W. Again a steady - but fast - pace is needed and the distance noted on expiry of the 12 minutes. A result of 7,000m is excellent and anything less than 5,000m is weak.

The interval between the exercises is limited to one minute (in a timed and verified trial) or if done in a friendly way a hydration break only. It is important that the test is run in the correct order namely run, row cycle. The test takes roughly 40 minutes and therefore can be performed in a typical one hour gym session (allowing for appropriate warm-up, cool down and stretch) and is therefore recommended for gym professionals wishing to have a good quantification of their clients' progress in aerobic fitness - as the dynamic range of results is useful.

Interpretation of Results

At the end of the three exercises the distances achieved in each test are summed and the total distance achieved is noted. This total distance gives a very good approximation of total aerobic fitness. The way in which the numbers add up results in mathematical elegance – anything over 12 km demonstrates an acceptable degree of fitness and should be the target distance for those of a sedentary disposition wishing to achieve aerobic fitness, or those who are a little overweight !

An achieved distance of over 13 km demonstrates excellent fitness and any result of 14 km or more demonstrates an outlier or athlete. Anything over 15 km demonstrates truly exceptional fitness both cardiovascular and in the necessary technique in all three disciplines.

Credits: thanks to Messrs. Ray Conway and Steve Parry, both extraordinary personal gym instructors and trainers of City Golf, Coleman Street, London EC2R for their help and assistance in developing the protocols for the test.


This test is new and has not undergone scientific study. It is not in common use. If you use these procedures for testing or include it in some research project, we would be very interested in any feedback.

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