The Birtwell 40 meter shuttle run test is a longer version of the 20 m Beep Test or multistage fitness test. This test involves continuous running between two lines 40 meters apart. The time to run between the lines gets progressively shorter each level, until the participant can no longer keep up. The test was created by Ian Birtwell for the Canadian national rugby program (he was Canada's coach from 1989 to 1996).
equipment required: Flat, non-slip surface, marker cones, 40m measuring tape, recording sheets, whistle (if cd not available), stopwatch.
pre-test: Explain the test procedures to the subject. Perform screening of health risks and obtain informed consent. Prepare forms and record basic information such as age, height, body weight, gender, test conditions. Measure out course and place marker cones. Perform an appropriate warm-up. See more details of pre-test procedures.
procedure: Cones are placed in two lines 40 meters apart (see diagram). The test participants stand behind one of the lines facing the opposite line, and begin running when instructed. Two instructors are required. One to blow the whistle at the times indicated on the timing table (if cd not available), the other to call out the level and rep currently being run (i.e. "Level 5, rep 2"). The participants attempt to reach each line in time to the signal, continually running between each line until they are unable to continue. They must be within a stride of the line at the signal in order to continue. The last level successfully completed is recorded.
scoring: The athlete's score is the level and number of reps (40m) reached before they were unable to keep up. The score is recorded as the level and rep, 6.2 means Level 6, Rep 2. A good score is between level 6 and 7. Excellent is over 7. One result found that the fittest rugby players at U15 tend to get up to about 6.2. National U/20 rugby players in Canada reach about 7.4 (depending on body type and position played).
target population: this test is suitable for sports teams and school groups, but not for populations in which a maximal exercise test would be contraindicated. It has been used predominantly for Rugby players.
reliability: Reliability would depend on how strictly the test is run, and the practice allowed for the participants.
advantages: Large groups can perform this test all at once for minimal costs. Also, the test continues to maximum effort unlike many other tests of endurance capacity.
disadvantages: Practice and motivation levels can influence the score attained, and the scoring can be subjective. As the test is often conducted outside, the environmental conditions can affect the results.
other considerations: This test is a maximal test, which requires a reasonable level of fitness. It is not recommended for recreational athletes or people with health problems, injuries or low fitness levels.
comments: This test was designed as an alternative to the beep test. It can be completed in under 10 minutes. You can use the Team Beep Test Software and test timings to create your own beep recording to conduct this test.
- Birtwell Test Timing Table
- The complete guide to the beep test
- Guide to Variations of the beep / bleep test
- Other aerobic fitness tests
- Beep Test Software — provides the standard Multistage Fitness Test or Bleep Test right on your PC or Laptop, with many additional features.