It’s really useful to benchmark your performance over time if you want to track your progress during a fitness programme. One of the simplest fitness tests you can use to do this is the Cooper test, which can be used to measure your VO2 Max statistic.
The Cooper test is essentially a measure of aerobic efficiency – it tells you how hard your body can work, and compare your performance against a vast amount of data that’s been built up over time.
Undertaking a Cooper Test for Fitness
You don’t need any specialist equipment to run a Cooper test. All you require is a stopwatch and somewhere to run so that you can accurately measure how far you go in a fixed period of time. Running tracks are the best venue to test yourself because they are level and it’s really easy to measure your progress, although if you don’t have access to a track, you can still take the test on any flat circuit where you can get a reasonably accurate measurement.
In order to take the test, you need to warm up for about 10 minutes to get your body totally ready for the exertion, and then you run as far as you can in 12 minutes. That’s it. If you’ve been training for a while you’ll have a good idea of how to pace yourself, but essentially the run should be as hard as possible. The Cooper test isn’t a training run, it’s a measure of peak exertion.
Once the time has run out, measure how far you’ve run, and compare it with the reference charts below to see what your fitness level is. As an example, if you’re a 27 year old man, and you manage to run 2,500m in the 12 minutes, you’d be considered “ABOVE AVERAGE”, while if you’re a 37 year old woman and manage to run 2,500m in the 12 minute test, you’d be graded “EXCELLENT”
You can use the charts below to gauge your fitness using the Cooper Test.
You’ll notice that both genders have a peak in performance, and that for men it is around 19 years old, while for women it’s about 16 years old.
Calculating your Vo2 Max From A Cooper Test
You can use the distance you’ve run in the Cooper Test to calculate a value for VO2 Max using the following formula:
- (Distance in metres – 504.9) ÷ 44.73
As you work through your training programme and become fitter, you should see your Cooper Test performance and VO2 Max improve over time.