Fitness Tips

The 7 Best Ways To Test Your Overall Physical Fitness

Francesca Krempa

Photo: Getty Images / Luis Alvarez
It’s not always easy to gauge how your fitness practices are paying off. Especially if you’re in a workout rut, seeing the results—or even knowing what to look for—can get a little confusing. Performing a few simple fitness tests can help you gain a better understanding of your physical and mental capabilities in order to determine which areas could use a little improvement.

Ready for a challenge? Below you’ll find seven of the best fitness tests to try at home or in the gym.

The best fitness tests to give yourself a new challenge

1. 2,000-Meter Row

The 2,000-meter row is a gold-standard among athletes and professional rowers (it’s the official distance in rowing competitions). Known for working out 86 percent of your body’s muscles, it’s also a great way to test your heart health. “It’s a true test of one’s lung capacity as well,” Annie Mulgrew, founding instructor at CITYROW, previously told Well+Good. “It requires that someone be not only in cardiovascular shape, so they can breathe and sustain high-intensity heartbeats, but also that they be able to push through lactic acid that’s going to start building up all over the body.”

The test is fairly straightforward: Time yourself rowing 2,000 meters. Exactly how fast you should be able to complete a 2,000-meter row depends on your height and weight, but Mulgrew suggests working with a benchmark of two minutes per split, or 500 meters. All in all, it’s really about endurance, power, and pacing. For details on the whole test, read more here.

2. 3-Minute Plank

Holding a plank for 1-minute leaves you shaky. But three? That’s the ultimate test of muscular endurance. “With the plank, so many other muscles are engaged like from your chest to your lats, obviously your core, but even your quads, your glutes if you’re doing it all right,” Mike Donavanik, founder and CEO of digital fitness platform Sweat Factor, previously told Well+Good. “To be able to hold a regular plank for a three-minute duration without any breaks is great. Anytime you can have movements to a plank too, I mean you’re just killing it if you can do that.”

See if you can pull off a 3-minute plank here.

Before you begin, here’s the right way to do a plank: 

3. Sitting-Rising Test

This is a fun one. The sitting-rising test (SRT) is exactly what it sounds like—how fast (and gracefully) can you go from sitting to standing, and vice versa?

The goofy test was inspired by Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araújo, MD, as a way to predict longevity. Turns out, the older we get, the harder it becomes to keep our balance and stay nimble. If you can go from a sitting position to a standing position without using anything for additional balance (or just toppling over), you’re in good shape. Try the test out for yourself here.

4. 10-Minute Squat Test

Like the previous workout, this challenge is designed to test your ever-important dexterity. The format was designed by mobility coach Kelly Starret, PT, and rotates between a standard squat and an assisted pistol squat, AKA the single-leg squat.

As Starrett explains in the video below, one-sided movement, like extending a leg before returning back to a standard squat, really tests your stability, which is the baseline for just about every workout out there. Read our full explainer here, or watch Starret’s video below:

5. Military Fitness Tests

Armed forces around the world are notorious for requiring their members to be in tip-top shape. This means being able to pass some of the most rigorous fitness tests designed to challenge strength, endurance, and speed.

From the UK Special Air Service’s grueling 8-part challenge to India’s Para Special Force’s final physical fitness test, here is a round-up of the 5 hardest military physical training regimens from around the world, if you really want to test your limits.

6. Firefighter Fitness Test

Similarly, firefighters are required to be in incredible physical shape, which is why the Fire Department of New York requires every incoming firefighter to pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CDAT).

As you probably guessed, this isn’t your average fitness challenge. Per the FDNY’s prep guide, there’s some not-so-basic gear involved, like a 10-pound sledgehammer (to practice forcible entry) and a 165-pound mannequin (to practice saving a human from a burning building.) The whole test can be completed in 8 serious steps. Learn more here.

7. 9-Step General Fitness Test

Want something a little more comprehensive? This 9-part exercise test addresses all the key components for overall fitness, from strength and conditioning, to stamina, to balance.

Designed by Refine Method’s founder Brynn Putnam, this at-home assessment is great for getting a pulse check on where your physical fitness is currently and how it can improve. Expect the basics, like push-ups, vertical jumps, and planks, as well as some novel exercises, like the SRT from above, as well as the grown-up version of the beep test. Try the full workout here.

Before you begin, learn the right way to do a push-up: 

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