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Multistage Fitness Test in
Secondary Schools - Advice on Safety.
Norman Eve and Deryck Williams (BAALPE)
The 1999 edition of the BAALPE publication
'Safe Practice in Physical Education' includes specific reference to the
multistage fitness test in chapter 14 on Health Related Exercise. In
light of the apparent popularity of this particular test in secondary
schools and the risks associated with its implementation, the authors of
this article consider it appropriate to provide further advice.
The multistage fitness test, also known as the bleep test, is described as
a progressive shuttle run test for the prediction of maximum oxygen
uptake. Promoters claim that it provides a relatively straightforward
means for monitoring individual aerobic fitness with a class of young
people in a practical way without the need or use of sophisticated
scientific equipment and measuring devices. The test may be used
occasionally to obtain a 'one-off aerobic picture or, alternatively,
applied repeatedly over a series of lessons to monitor progress in aerobic
fitness. Progressive measurement is most appropriate and relevant with
more athletically able young people.
The test materials package consists of an audio cassette containing
instructions and timing indicators together with an explanatory booklet
and tables which provide measures for maximum oxygen uptake related to the
number of shuttle runs successfully completed at given levels.
The test itself requires participants to carry out a sequence of shuttle
runs between two parallel lines on the floor positioned 20 metres apart.
Each shuttle run is accompanied by a 'bleep' audio signal which, when
sounded, indicates that the run should have been completed. Those who do
not manage this must stop the test and note the number of shuttle runs
successfully accomplished and at what level. The timing begins relatively
slowly but increases at intervals of approximately one minute. 'Bleeps'
sound every 9 seconds for the first minute (level one), every 8 seconds
for the second minute (level two), every 7 seconds for the third minute
(level three) and so on, with decreasing 'bleep' time intervals for each
successive minute. The cassette and tables provide for predicted maximum
oxygen uptake up to level twenty-one, an exceptional level of which very
few pupils, if any, are likely to be capable.