If you’re seeking a challenge to push your endurance and fitness to the next level, familiarize yourself with the “Beep Test.” The latest TikTok fitness trend, the Beep Test is a running test popular among soccer players that doubles as an intense cardio workout — and it’s one of the most boundary-pushing endurance challenges you could cook up.
In simple terms, the Beep Test is a multi-stage fitness test. “It’s commonly used with field and court sport athletes to test their aerobic capacity,” explains Mike Young, Ph.D., owner and director of performance and sports science of Athletic Lab in Morrisville, NC. The test involves running back and forth over 20 meters in sync with an audio track. There are several levels, and at each one, the athlete must run progressively faster. The goal is to reach the cone before you hear the beep on the audio track, which is how the test got its name.
“It is not only a test of VO2max, but it’s also one of the types of training you’d need to do to increase your VO2 max,” Young says, referring a measure of physical fitness based on how much oxygen you can breathe in while exercising at your hardest. “It’s a great alternative to a fast continuous tempo run or a Fartlek-style run.”
Join in on the movement, and you’ll discover why the Beep Test isn’t just a workout; it’s a full-blown physical and mental battle that will seriously test your limits.
How To Do The Beep Test
To conduct the Beep Test, all you need is adequate space to arrange two cones with a distance of 20 meters between them. Pack a bluetooth speaker or a pair of headphones, as the test requires audio.
Once you turn on the audio track, which can be found on Spotify, YouTube, or via download from the Beep Test Academy, you begin the challenge, running from cone to cone.
“The goal is to reach each point in sync with the beeps of the audio recording,” says Young. “As the beeps increase in tempo, you’ll be forced to run faster until you can no longer keep up.”
If you fail to reach the point at or before the beep, you’ll be cautioned. The tough part about this test is that if you choose to continue after not making it to the cone in time, you have to attempt to catch up by the subsequent beep. Two consecutive fails end your assessment, and the last successfully completed shuttle is marked as your score.
There are 21 potential levels you can complete in the Beep Test, and doing so would take a total of 22 minutes and 3 seconds. At each level, there is a minimum speed you have to maintain in order to not fail the test, starting at 8 km/hr for level one and working up to 18.5 km/hr at level 21. You have to complete a certain number of shuttles in each level before you can move onto the next — between seven for level one and 16 for level 21.
How Beep Test Scoring Works — And What To Aim For
Beep Test scoring is determined by the number of levels and stages you successfully complete.
The first number in your score represents your level, and the second number is the number of runs achieved within that level. For example, if you reached level 3 and completed four of the stages, your score would be 3/4.
According to an analysis by Topend Sports, this is how Beep Test scores rank for men and women by age.
Keeping track of your Beep Test score serves as a valuable indicator of your fitness progress. You don’t have to jump entire levels to be proud; even doing one more stage (shuttle) than last time means you’re getting more fit.
Although you can manage tracking your score on your own, it becomes challenging as you progress further into the challenge and become more fatigued. It’s best to try the test with a buddy for more accurate scorekeeping — and to cheer you on through the most challenging stages.
How To Use The Beep Test As A Workout
The Beep Test is, in fact, a test. But with a little tweaking, you can make it a killer cardio workout. Here are three variations to try. But make sure you do a warm-up first:
- 2-3 minutes of jogging, lateral shuffles, or jumping jacks
- 10 reps walks quad pulls
- 10 reps high kicks
- 10 reps hamstring sweeps
- 2 to 3 20-meter runs at sub-maximum speed
Beep Test Workout Variation #1: Complete Stages to Failure
- Perform as many stages as possible before failure (aka, do the basic Beep Test)
- Aim to complete more stages prior to failure with each workout.
Beep Test Workout Variation #2: Complete a Set Number of Stages
- Run a set number a predetermined stages that you know you can complete
- Rest, then run a second set of those stages
- Aim to complete more sets or increase the number of stages per set with each workout
Beep Test Workout Variation #3: Time Intervals
- Run the Beep Test for a predetermined amount of time; 10 minutes is a good start. Complete however many stages you can in 10 minutes
- Rest, then run the Beep Test for the set time again
- Aim to increase the amount of time in the interval or the sets of intervals you do with each workout
If you’re ready to challenge yourself and want to include the Beep Test as part of your regular cardio routine, it’s best to replace one or two of your weekly cardio workouts with it. If you’re doing it more than once per week, make sure to mix up the variations because each one trains slightly different aspects of your running fitness.
The Beep Test is just that: a test and with tests there’s always room for improvement. Try to better your score with the goal of pushing into the next performance category — going from, say, “good” to “very good.” It’s important to recognize that there is a cap to how well you will be able to do and that any progress is good progress.