How to Set Up and Run the Beep Test

The beep test which is also known as the multi-stage fitness test, bleep test, pacer test and 20-metre shuttle run is commonly used by sporting clubs and organisations to test a person’s VO2 maximum. It is also used for determining eligibility to gain entrance or employment by some sporting clubs and organisations.

The test is structured into 21 levels and each level is broken up into a determined number of shuttles and each level lasts approximately 62 seconds (see beep test levels details below). Starting at level one requires you to run at a pace of approximately 8.0km/hr increasing to 9.0km/hr for level 2 then by 0.5km/hr with each level thereafter. The speed remains constant for the entire level.

Equipment Required for the Beep Test

In order to conduct a beep test, you will need the following equipment

  • Flat non-slip surface
  • Cones to mark each end
  • 20-metre measuring tape
  • Beep test audio program
  • Device for playing the beep test audio program

Beep Test Procedure

The beep test is conducted by continuously running between two ends that face each other at 20 metres apart.

3 successive beeps sound to start the test and are also sounded at the start of each new level.

To start the test the beep test audio program will indicate that the test will begin shortly and when you hear the 3 quick successive beeps you start your first shuttle run.

Level 1 will require you to run at a pace of approximately 8.5km/hr and will increase by approximately 0.5km/hr for each level (there is an increase of 1km/hr from level 1 to level 2).

Successful completion of a shuttle is when you are able to reach the end of the 20-metre shuttle before the sound of the next beep which indicates the start of the next shuttle.

This process is repeated back and forth until you fail to reach the end of the shuttle before the beep sounds. It is important to note here that you must not commence a shuttle run until the sound of the beep.

Depending on who is conducting the test, it is a common practice to allow for the unsuccessful completion of one shuttle and if you can catch up and make it to the next end before the beep you are back in the game. However, if you miss two consecutive ends this will complete your test. Your score will be the last successfully completed end, not the end you were knocked out on.

Scoring for The Beep Test

Your score for the beep test will be the level you reached plus the number of shuttles successfully completed before you were unable to keep up with the beep.

Beep Test Levels

Shuttle Time
Total level
time (s)
Distance (m)Cumulative
Distance (m)
Cumulative Time
(min and seconds)

The multi-stage fitness test total distance is 4940 metres and will take a total time of twenty-two minutes and three seconds (22:03).

13 thoughts on “How to Set Up and Run the Beep Test”

  1. I”m 24 and I got 12.3, do you think if I do some sprint training, I might get to level 13-14?

    1. Hey Mitchell,

      12.3 is a great beep test score! There are too many factors to simply say yes or no to the question of sprint training.

      The first place to start is ensuring your technique is spot on, only then would we look at the type of drills you’re doing and what areas will help improve your score.

      Obviously we’re big fans of our own program because we wrote it for our clients to ensure they’re doing everything right to achieve their potential best beep test score.

      If you need a structured program with very specific explanations and video demonstrations of correct technique and training drills, we’d love to have you on our program Mitch πŸ™‚

      Good luck whatever you decide πŸ˜‰
      Russ & Mark

      1. yea I’m actually doing it the right way; waiting for the beep to go, having 1 foot behind the line with good turning technique, as well 2 warnings before stopping the test. I only do the test on non-grass surfaces due to injuries caused by me doing it on grass, and I feel it’s the best surface to do the test on

  2. Hi i am very interested in running the bleep test for a junior football (soccer) team tht i coach. I am currently in the fire service so understand the bleep test (the full one) as we have to do this to measure our fitness vo2 max. However how would i run this for a group of 10 year old boys? i would like to be able to cross reference their score to a level of fitness. do you have any ideas or links to conversion tables etc. thanks in advance matt

    1. Hey matt,

      thanks for your message.

      What we do with younger groups is to modify the distance. It could be shortened to any distance, but, 15 meters would be suitable for 10 year olds. It really doesn’t matter what the distance is, as long as it is consistent so that the results can be measured.

      We don’t have a vo2 max conversion for distances other than the standard 20 meters, but, to be honest, I don’t really think there’s much value in trying to calculate that anyway for anyone other than elite adults.

      There’s really no need to ‘cross reference’ a score when results from the beep test produces its own score, ie. level 1.3, 4.2, 5.6 etc.

      If the vo2max score is important to you, you can always just leave the test at the standard 20m distance, however, at 10 years old the test will be over pretty quickly. Shortening the distance to 16, 15 or even 14m allows the kids to participate for longer.

      I would try varying the distance a couple of times until the majority of the kids are reaching a score of around level 5 (roughly 5 minutes participation time).

      Hope that helps mate πŸ™‚

  3. Hi I was wondering the distance that players should run. Most struggle with 20m so maybe 15 Metres would be better. Also how many chances do you gives kids if don’t make the line. Many thanks Elvis

    1. Hey Elvis,

      thanks for your question. There really are no rules as far as how you’d like to modify the test to suit your needs/students.
      With kids sessions, we like to ensure that the ‘average’ level reached in the group is around at least 5-6. To achieve this you might need to reduce the distance of the test from 20 to 18 or even 15. For really young kids you could reduce the distance to as short as 12 meters.This will usually be dependent on the ages of the kids, but, be flexible by all means.

      As for how many chances, again it depends on the level of the kids and how ‘serious’ the test is. If it’s just for participation, rather than some type of team selection try out, then we usually give the kids a warning if they miss the beep, a second warning if the miss the next one and then stop them if they miss 3 in a row. Again, give them every chance to stay in the test to maximise participation.

      Hope that helps Elvis πŸ™‚
      Russ & Mark
      Beep Test Academy

  4. Hi I’m dr Indu Tandon an occupational therapist I run a health based fitness centre for kids in India …at what age for kids can u start the test? as you mentioned start with 10 meters so how do I modify the beep ? Do we start at level 1 only ? As I have tried with 8 yrs old they achieve level 4 to 5 normally .awaiting ur reply thanks

    1. Hi, sorry for the delay, but, thanks for your question.

      We suggest leaving the beep test (audio file) untouched, and experiment with different distances. Younger kids, from around 10 years of age could do the beep test over 10 meters, 13-15 might do the test over 15 meters. 15 years and older would be ok to do the full 20 meters.

      Ideally you want to aim to find a distance where the majority of the kids doing the test can reach a level of around 5-7. Less than that would indicated the distance is too long, more than that might indicate the test is too short.

      I hope that helps.

      Kind regards

  5. Hi, I am an 11 year old girl who just ran the beep test. My score was 9.10. Is that score good at my age because some people only got 2.8.

  6. Hi Russell, this beep test is very interesting. I coach hockey players from age 7 to 15 and was wondering at what age you could start using the beep test to test their fitness. And also how you determine their VO2 max from the level/ shuttles completed?
    I operate in Cape Town, South Africa and am looking into starting a development sports facility especially aimed at children between 5 and 17. At the moment finances are scarce, but I believe with perseverance and determination I will eventually get there.
    Looking forward to your reply.

    1. Petro, that’s sounds fantastic! I wish you all the best with the facility and finding some finance to help it become a reality.

      In regards to when to start kids on the beep test, you could really start at 7 years old without any concern. The scores of course will always be relative to their age (within fitness reason of course), but, for under 10 years of age, I would suggest doing a “half” beep test.

      This is where you start the test from level 10 but you only mark out 10 meters on the beep test course (not 20!). Give that a try and see how you go πŸ™‚

      I will email you a chart to hep you work out the beep test level/ vo2 Max estimate. Nice to hear from your Petro.

      Kind regards,
      Russ & Mark
      Beep Test Academy.

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