Often there's a misconception that to get better at the beep test you have to do it over and over. If this is you then please take a moment to absorb this breakdown of beep test components which will ensure you are better prepared for your upcoming fitness test.
1. be a better runner
Seems pretty straight forward right? But before you can even consider getting better at the beep test you should be focusing on becoming a better runner. The beep test isn’t some mystical thing that you need to master, nope! You are just running and sprinting as the levels progress. So you need to get your running form sorted first. Some considerations are:
Become a good runner and you’ll pass the beep test any day of the week!
2. v02 max
The beep test test’s your V02 max while you’re running. You can also test your V02 max whilst cycling, swimming, rowing or via other cardio activities but for the purpose of this test it will be in the form of running.
V02 max is basically how well your lungs work at your peak performance. So, in order to improve your V02 max you need to conduct training that is going to improve your V02 max. This is where there is often a misconception that doing the beep test over and over is going to improve your beep test. Well, sorry to burst your bubble but if a coach/trainer/weetbix-PT-certificate-earner ever gets you to do the beep test over and over as training then they are 1 of 2 things…lazy or they’ve got no idea what they are doing. The beep test is a TEST of your V02 max it's NOT a method of training to improve your V02 max.
The simple fact is that you have to do V02 max training to develop your V02 max. Read more about V02 max here.
Agility is something that simply isn’t a factor in most people's lives because most haven’t played sport since they were in school so to turn at the line without losing momentum seems quite unnatural. Agility during the beep test is referring to how efficiently you can change direction at each end after each shuttle. Although agility doesn’t really apply to the beep test until after a couple of levels, say level 1,2 & for some 3 because you aren’t at a continuous run yet. It’s quite slow and when keeping up with the group you are stopping and starting after each shuttle so you aren’t yet at a continuous run. But once you get into a continuous run at around level 3 and 4 then agility is a factor that needs to be considered.
So much time and energy is wasted at the turns so ensure you are practicing turns through different agility drills such as figure 8’s, 5/10/15’s or variations of suicide runs. Check out this blog for more info about turnarounds.
4. speed endurance
This sounds like some super technical elite athlete thing that doesn’t matter to me…..well guess what, you are joining a job that pays you to keep fit so it definitely matters to you.
As the beep test levels increase the time you have to run each shuttle decreases. Most of the time when you go for a run you start out fast and slow down over time but for the beep test you actually have to speed up and this is where you’ll commonly hear that someone's legs got tired before their lungs did. So as you fatigue you are required to run faster - just simply doesn't make sense right?
To improve this conundrum you need to do training that is focused on developing your speed endurance by doing sessions that involve repeat sprints over short distances.
Speed: run faster
Endurance: continuously run faster as the levels progress.
As previously mentioned you need to be able to sprint repeatedly as the levels progress with the beep test. In order to sprint you need to be able to create power. To create power you need to have strength. If you aren’t much of a gym goer or live a sedentary lifestyle then it’s very likely that certain muscle groups in your body don’t work too well.
Glutes create power as do your quads and calves and your hamstrings actually help you stop. Your core strength helps the rigidity of your body so if you are running like an octopus then it’s likely you have a weak core. If you are lacking strength in these areas then it’s very likely you are lacking the power required to be able to sprint and sprint repeatedly as the beep test progresses.
Strength training that supports your running has a myriad of benefits but most importantly it reduces your likelihood of running related injuries. Go lift some weights and go do some core work and watch your running ability sky rocket.
This has to be the most sought after aspect I’ve encountered after coaching thousands of ADF, Police and Firefighter applicants.
When it comes to the beep test I like to look at it as though you have 100 energy credits available to pass. How many credits will you waste on inefficient turns? Or perhaps you’ll waste more credits than you like on an inefficient running style OR how many energy credits will you waste on performance anxiety before the beep test has actually even started?
Most people will waste a good portion on performance anxiety. It’s not normal to be tested on your fitness to get a job. I bet you didn’t have to do a beep test in the car park of McDonalds before you got that job in the drive through? No, you didn't, so why would you know how to deal with the anxiety around a beep test that you have to do in front of all these people in uniform before you are eligible for your dream job. Getting on top of your anxiety through breathing patterns, inner dialogue and trusting your body is essentially how you need to go about using up less energy credits on the day.
Breathing patterns are referring to the diaphragmatic breathing you do in your car on the way to the beep, as you arrive at the beep test and just before you commence the beep test.
Inner dialogue is referring to the strategic thinking that supports your actions in order to achieve your vision of serving in uniform.
Trusting your body is referring to the training you conduct in the lead up to the beep test. Keep this in mind - you don’t live up to the occasion on the day you drop to the level of your training on the day. Relevant training builds a strong body, a body you can trust that will perform to the level you need on the day of your test.
If you take into consideration the above 6 points then there is no reason why you too can dominate the beep test on the day of your test.
If you’d like to know more about this or how to incorporate these into your training schedule then check out our training options here to get your training and mind on track.
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