What is the bleep test?
The bleep (or beep) test is an an efficient, beastly way to measure your aerobic fitness, created by Luc Léger in the eighties. Basically a set of bleeps play up to 21 levels, with every level decreasing the space between each bleep, and you have to increase your pace between each bleep to beat it.
A fitness requirement for various manually challenging jobs such as the fire service, the army and professional football, the bleep test isn't for the faint hearted. But just because it's really hard that doesn't make it impossible, and passing the test can be achieved following dedicated speed training.
Assess your fitness
The bleep test comes under various guises, but running is the standard format. To get the best out of your fitness it's worth incorporating cross-training such as swimming and cycling into your regime, but a consistent running routine should make up the bulk of your training. One of the keys to passing the test is starting to train at least 8-6 weeks in advance to ensure your fitness is up to speed.
Train for speed
The bleep test is about speed and endurance and improving both of these things will stand you in good stead come test day. Fartlek training is a great way to familiarise yourself with the feeling of running fast, improve your running speed and learn how to manage the discomfort. Our guide to fartlek training and these key speed workouts are an ideal starting point.
Practice at home
While speed is a prerequisite to passing the test, running efficiency is also key. The great thing about the bleep test is you can practice it at home and perfect your style pace. Apps like Bleep Test Lite are the perfect way to carry out your own test accurately; all you need is a tape measure to plot the 20-metre distance with a couple of markers.
Master the turn
Alongside physical exertion, one of the hardest aspects of the bleep test is mastering the turn. As you push yourself further, it becomes difficult to focus on technique and this is fundamental to getting a high score. You don't need to stride over the allocated marker with every hit, you can place your foot on the line and rotate from there. It might even be beneficial to turn with different legs each time, so your weight is evenly distributed and your muscles become equally as fatigued. Experiment with what works best for you.
Don’t forget the basics
As with any race, fuelling properly is essential. 1-2 hours before your bleep test takes place make sure you eat an energy-packed meal like this cinnamon and raisin porridge and make sure you're properly hydrated.
To perform at your best and stay free from injury your muscles need to be warmed up before you get started. Read our warm-up basics before getting stuck into your speed work training.
Stick to your pace
If you’re taking the bleep test as part of a group, don’t get carried away by the other runners around you. Learning how to pace yourself and conserve energy is essential for passing the test, so focus on your own speed and don’t start out too fast. If someone is shooting off or not breaking a sweat, don't mind them. Keep your cool, do your own thing and manage your own speed. Good luck!