5 Fitness Test Drills and Ideas

Last week I talked all about how to plan your sessions to handle multiple fitness levels. The most accurate way to identify a campers fitness level is to run frequent fitness tests.

Also if you have been reading Bootcamp Ideas for a while then you will also know I’m not a big fan of measuring BMI, body fat or weight.

Just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean that it’s valuable.

That is an easy trap to get into and a dangerous one.

On the other hand fitness testing is very practical, not only for your planning but also for showing clients improvement even if the scale or mirror is trying to tell them otherwise.

There are many different ways to test your clients’ fitness and I’m sure you have your favourite methods (which I would love for you to share below). Here are some one’s that are super easy to implement.

shoes race

Mile Testing

This is a test I hear frequently in the US.

A mile is around 1.6km. By coincidence, back in Australia I used a 1.5km loop to regularly test my clients fitness levels.

Set up: Plot out a route that you can easily explain to your clients. Out to a landmark and back or a loop around your park both work well. MapMyRun is a good tool for measuring how far a course is.

Execution: A simple stop watch is all you need for this. Call out clients times and have them remember the time as they cross the finish line. Then once everyone has completed their run, mark off the run times on a spreadsheet.

Alternative: Instead of always running the same route, plot out a few different routes for variety. For example I had 3 courses. We would rotate through them every 4 months. I used a 1.2km steep hill out and back run, the 1500m run I mentioned about and a 1km loop that featured a nice gradual climb and a steep descent. Clients would run the loop twice for a total of 2km.

Beep Test

I remember participating in the beep test at school. I hated it and now your clients can learn to hate it too.

For those who aren’t aware, the beep test is a 20m shuttle run that gradually increases in speed. You have to keep up with the periodic beep or you are out. Read more.

It is a good way to estimate your clients’ VO2max level.

Set up: You need an accurate way to measure and mark out a 20m distance. Netball courts are great for this – two thirds is approximately 20m. Buy a beep test app for your phone or source a CD. You will then need a way to play it loud enough for everyone to hear.

Execution: Play the test. Clients must not fail meeting a beep two rounds in a row. The can miss one beep but must make it up on the next beep.

If they do fail to make it then they are out and their score is the last completed level.

One Minute Strength Testing

I like to do this with push ups. Not just regular push ups but hand release push ups.

This way it becomes a repeatable test. The depth of the push up is always to the ground and the height of the push up is until arms are extended. The core must be tight, no dancing worms.

Set up: Get everyone lined up in alphabetical order. This will make it quick for you to mark down the reps at the end.

Execution: Set a timer for one minute and go. Have people count their own reps or run the test in two groups with one half of the group doing push ups while the other half counts. Then swap and test the other half.

Alternative: Run the test for 2 minutes instead. This requires a lot more endurance. Also check out Chris Commando’s killer series of one minute tests on the Facebook group.

Cadence Testing

This is a military style test where you actually count out each rep to a cadence.

Example: For push ups it goes 1 – down, 2 – pause at bottom, 3 – up and 4 pause at top before returning back to 1. The 1st and 3rd counts are on the second mark while the 2nd and 4th counts are on the half second. So it takes 2 full seconds to complete the round.

As you can imagine it gets boring (and makes your voice hoarse) pretty quickly counting from 1 to 4 dozens of times in a row so I developed my own version.

I like to do this test with squat jumps.

Set up: Set an interval timer for an unlimited number of 2 second rounds. Make sure you have some way of counting the rounds.

Execution: Clients begin in a squat position. Hips must be at knees or lower (but not resting at the bottom). Every 2 seconds on the beep clients will perform one squat jump before returning to the squat position.

A clients score is the number of rounds she lasts. A client is out when either they can no longer get their feet off the ground during the jump or if they can’t get their hips low enough between reps.

Have them raise a hand when they are out and call out the current round. Collect the score from them afterwards. Watch for people just sticking their ass out and not squatting.

The Squat 3/4 Mile

From Andi Garcia. Thanks to Andi for inspiring this post.

This is an outdoor drill that doesn’t take too much time to complete 5-10 min depending upon fitness level and can be incorporated into any class.  Be sure to do a short warm up prior to doing this drill.

I’m lucky enough to have access to a track, oval in shape and distance around is 1/4 of a mile (therefore 4 laps = 1 mile).

Basically everyone starts with 100 squats and runs 3/4 the way around the track and does more squats deceasing the number of squats by 25 each time.  In the end you’ll end up where you started and have ran around the track 3 times or 3/4 of a mile.

Have everyone start together all at once.

Everyone starts off doing 100 squats, the runs/jogs 3/4 of the way around the track.

At the 3/4 mark, do 75 squats, then run/jog 3/4 the way around again.

This time do 50 squats, then run/jog 3/4 the way around again.

This time do 25 squats, then run 3/4 rhe way around the track.

You will end up right where you started.  For those folks who finish early have them alternate between doing 5 push ups and 10 jumping jacks until everyone has finished.

For fitness testing: Your score will be the time after you have completed your last 3/4 lap.

About Andi: My name is Andi Garcia.  I’ve been a group fitness instructor for about 4 years now.  I teach many different group fitness class, bootcamp being one of them, teaching for my local recreation center.

Now you: How do you test?

What methods do you use for testing your clients’ fitness? Do you do individual tests or set up a drill that must be completed.

I’d love to hear about them, please share in the comments below.


Image: akunamatata

The Simple Guide To Planning Sessions For Mixed Fitness Levels

The Fitness Variation Cure

When someone joins the Bootcamp Ideas email list they are sent an email with a question:

‘What is the number one thing you are struggling with right now as a bootcamp trainer?’

I keep track of what trainers write back to me in a spreadsheet. To date over 250 trainers have taken the time to respond.

The most popular response I receive is not surprising. It’s why most trainers come to Bootcamp Ideas in the first place, ‘to find fresh workout ideas’.

The second most popular response I get is:

‘I struggle creating workouts that are effective for all of the different fitness levels in my bootcamp.’


I’ve heard you and have put together this little guide with some different ways to have your groups of mixed fitness levels work together seamlessly.

Let’s start with some planning tactics and then I’ll go into how to actually put them into practice.

Four methods for handling various fitness levels

1. Exercise Variations

Plan out your workout as you normally would. Once completed create 1 to 3 additional variations of the workout by modifying the exercises.

Doing this before the workout, rather than on the fly, makes you look more professional and serious about your clients fitness. So don’t wait until the session to try and make these modifications.

Here’s an example of a drill modified for different fitness levels:

Original drill:

10 minute AMRAP

  1. 15x Push Ups
  2. 15x KB Goblet Squat
  3. 10/side Side Plank Hip Drops
  4. 10m Bear crawl

Modified for different fitness levels:

10 minute AMRAP

Beginner Intermediate Advanced Reps
1.  Push Ups on knees Push Ups HRPU 15
2. 8kg KB Goblet Squat 12kg KB Goblet Squat 16kg KB Goblet Squat 15
3. Side Plank Hip Drops Alt. Side Plank Hip Drops Side Plank reach throughs 10/side
4. Bear crawl  Bear crawl Reverse Bear crawl 10 m

Alt. Side Plank Hip Drops: alternate sides each rep without letting hips touch ground in between.

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Two Super Challenging Drills For Your Bootcamps

Here are two CrossFit style workouts that can be scaled and used in your bootcamp as either fitness tests or finishers.

The second one is pretty tough and should just be reserved just for your fittest groups or heavily scaled. Thanks to Fernando Pabon for the drills.

One: Body Rock

Do five rounds of the following for time:

3×1 – (every 3rd rep = 1)

  • 10 3×1 Mountain Climbers
  • 10 3×1 Body Squat Jump (3rd squat completed with jump squat – squat, squat, squat, jump)
  • 5 3×1 Sprawls (start in the push-up thrust legs forward to shoulder width recover in push-up)
Clients should aim to complete this workout under 15 minutes. Your fittest clients should aim for 8 minutes.

Two: Top Of The Day

21-15-9 (21 reps the first round, 15 reps the second round and 9 reps in the third and final round)

  • Burpees
  • Pull ups
  • Hand stand push ups
  • 200 meter run after each round (just once each round)

(1 lap around your park for distance check)

Do this with max out put. Record time. Do workout next week and compare time.

About Fernando

Fernando Pabon is a Navy veteran who trains local athletes.

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Image: Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet

Olympic Themed Bootcamp Fitness Test

There is still a couple more days to ran an Olympic themed workout. Here is the one I threw in for my clients. We used ours for this rounds fitness test.

Olympic Pentathlon Fitness Test

Goal: Strength/Conditioning

Time: 60 minutes

Equipment: Mats, Bench

Warm Up

5 minutes of running. Dynamic movements to prepare your clients for the workout.

Fitness Test Concept

In the spirit of the Olympics this round I have put together an Olympic themed bootcamp test based on a Pentathlon.

Clients will need to complete 5 exercises, a run, lunges, push ups, dips and squats. There are three levels, Beginner, Intermediate, and Veteran.

Olympic Pentathlon

Measure this test in two parts; the strength exercises and the run. Combine the times for a total score.

The reps required are in the (brackets).

Beginner Intermediate Veteran
Reverse Lunges (30/leg) Forward Lunges (40/leg) Forward Lunges (30/leg) and Reverse Lunges (30/leg)
Kneeling Push Ups (50) Push Ups (50) Hand Release Push Ups (50)
Squats (50) Jump Squats (50) Jump Squats (60)
Dips – knees 90 degrees (50) Dips – knees 135 degrees (50) Dips – legs straight (50)
Run (1500m) Run (2000m) Run (3000m)


If there is time left over do one of this sites finisher drills.


400m cooldown run and stretch.

Image: joncandy

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A Badass Bootcamp Fitness Test

This year I’ve decided that along with a small test at the start and the end of each bootcamp (such as 1 minute of push ups or a 1 mile run) I am also including some recurring workouts that will pop up during the year for my bootcampers. These workouts are special in that they can be measured and repeated constantly. Here is one of the workouts.

Note: This workout is quite challenging. Be sure to provide plenty of support and motivation throughout, especially to your less fit clients.


Goals: Crosstraining/Endurance

Duration: 1 hour

Equipment: Cones, Mats

Warm Up

Spend 10 minutes with a basic warm up of shuttle runs, power skips, suicide runs, side runs and spider lunges.

How It Works

Individually, clients are to complete as many rounds as possible of the circuit below. Their time limit is 15 minutes.

Clients can perform either of the exercises options but should try to stick to their exercise choices for the entire 15 minutes.

Make sure you go through all of the exercises beforehand. Allow everyone time to practice the bear crawl both forwards and backwards.

  1. 15x Marine Pushups (alternate exercise: marine pushups on knees)
  2. 10x Burpees (alternate exercise: walk feet out rather then jumping out)
  3. 5x 5 metre forwards Bear Crawl, 5 metre reverse Bear Crawl (alternate exercise: do all bear crawls forwards)
  4. 1x 50 metre sprint to cone and back

Take scores by first taking full rounds and then taking total number of reps from any incomplete rounds. For example, if a client only gets up to 8 burpees on their last round they would get 23 reps in addition to their complete rounds.

Finisher (if time)

Tabata intervals (20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest). Alternate the following two exercises for 4 minutes. (Thanks kmoore!)

  1. Elbows to knees squat
  2. 10 seconds squat hold and 10 seconds squat pulse


150 metre run, 50 metre walk, stretch

Image: Reggie_Lavoie

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