Easy measurement of fitness: The Cooper Test

The Cooper test is a measurement of physical fitness. It was designed by Kenneth H Cooper in 1968 for US military use.

The 12-minute run test is an easily administered, practical test. It provides the coach and athlete with a good guideline of aerobic fitness and the success or otherwise of the aerobic conditioning programme.

To perform the test, simply run as far as you can for 12 minutes!

For most coaches, it is probably the best aerobic test since it is easily administered and requires no equipment other than a venue and a stopwatch.

The ideal venue is a standard 400m running track but with a little ingenuity it could also be the local horse/dog/car racing track, or simply a grassed area like the local park, school playground, or your own rugby fields.

If you do this test anywhere other than on a measured track you might measure the distance in your car – if you’re using the road – or you might have access to a bicycle with an odometer to measure the distance between points in the park.

What is important is that after you’ve completed the 12 minutes you are able to figure out quite accurately just how far you’ve run. It goes without saying that you must be honest!

Warm up with 10 minutes of gentle running and be sure to move around while you cool down and stretch afterwards.

It’s important that you pace yourself so that you can finish the test – if you run too hard at the start then you will run slower towards the end of the test. Likewise if you start too easily you’re going to be fresh at the end.

Try to maintain a constant pace throughout and get a friend to record the lap times so you can plan the attack next time.

The chart below gives an indication of where you are compared to the normal sedentary population in the 18–28 age group.

The numbers are the miles/km run and as a rugby player you should be near the top of the table by the time the season starts, regardless of the position played.

Our programmes ask you to perform this test at the beginning and end of the pre-season preparation period to give you an idea of your aerobic fitness.

Requirements: Measured distance, stopwatch.

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