The Australian Defence Force Beep Test is rightly feared by new applicants. However, with a few tips and guidelines - and the right fitness regime - you can conquer the terrors of the beep with a lot to spare.
Let’s take a look at how you can improve your Australian Defence Force Beep Test results and make sure you don’t slip up in the recruitment process.
The basics - What is the beep test?
Before we begin, let’s take a closer look at what the expectations will be when you take the Beep Test. Also known as the Multi-Stage Fitness Test, it’s a series of 20-metre shuttle runs or sprints, which goes through different levels. The idea is to reach the other side of the shuttle run before the beep sounds, and the time between beeps shortens after every stage. The test begins at a similar speed to just above walking pace, and by the time you reach level 7.5, you will need to be at full running speed.
And why do you need to train? The simple truth is that without any practice, the Beep Test is incredibly tough. It can be difficult to pace yourself properly, and even though the test to level 7.5 - which needs to be reached if you want to pass Army standard - only take you 6 minutes and 30 seconds, it can be draining. The Navy standard is 6.1, and the Airforce is 6.5.
Beep Test Distance
Although the beep test is based on 20-metre shuttle runs, and the distance between the two markers is just 20 metres, you may be required to continue running until your assessor tells you to stop. You must reach the required standard of fitness for your given branch of service, which is level 7.5 for the Army, the Navy standard is 6.1, and the Airforce is 6.5.
The cumulative distance run and duration of the beep test for the ADF depends on what level you score and the standards required for performance. The actual distance isn’t that far though, even if you completed the test to level 13 (which isn’t needed for any branch), it would take less than 14 minutes. If you ran that entire time, you’d have run a progressively faster 2.5km.
Despite this relatively short window of performance, the beep test will be draining. The beeps getting progressively faster, and as you become more fatigued, you’ll have less time to complete the work.
Beep Test Results
If you meet the standards for your branch of the military, your data will look something like this:
You'll have to reach at least level 6.1 on your beep test. That means you'll be running for a total of 5 minutes and 21 seconds getting progressively faster at every level. By the time you complete level 6.1, you'd have run a distance of 840m that equals 42 sprints.
You'll have to reach at least level 6.5 on your beep test. That means you'll be running for a total of 5 minutes and 47 seconds getting progressively faster at every level. By the time you complete level 6.5, you'd have run a distance of 920m that equals 46 sprints.
You'll have to reach at least level 7.5 on your beep test. That means you'll be running for a total of 6 minutes and 51 seconds getting progressively faster at every level. By the time you complete level 7.5, you'd have run a distance of 1120m that equals 56 sprints.
We coach our TBG troops to aim to exceed the requirements rather than achieve what's needed for a minimum standard. As you train, you'll be using a variety of training methods, but when you test yourself, be sure to aim for higher than you need to achieve to pass.
Another aspect to consider when looking at the data is the physical demands of turning around every 20m. The distances and the total times may not look like much of a challenge for someone who has never done the beep test. If that's you, consider the number of sprints with no recovery for your level.
Think of running, stopping, turning and then running again that many times. The test challenges not only your aerobic capacity with the sprints, especially towards the end, but also the strength, balance, flexibility of your ankle, knee and hip joints. Your training plan will have to cater for all that too, not just running.
Don’t use the Beep Test as training
First of all, remember that the Beep Test is an assessment tool. It’s a measure of your fitness, not a way to train. There’s a simple reason why it is foolhardy to keep practicing the Beep Test.
Given that the test starts at slightly above walking speed and continues for one minute per stage, the reality is that you don’t start working hard for a while. And if you are getting to level 4.1 every time you practice, you are only actually running for three minutes! Not to mention the fact that you will only be working hard for the final 30 seconds - it’s a pointless exercise.
Furthermore, the truth is that once you are in the military, your fitness will be judged over a run of 2.4 km, so it makes sense to prepare yourself to run that distance - not just to Level 7.5 of the Beep Test.
If you want to ace the beep test stage of the recruitment process, focus on interval and speed training.
Here, at The Barracks Gym, we focus on interval and MAS training and combine them with Fartlek and longer runs.
You can also try Maximal Aerobic Training, using 15 seconds hard work followed by 15 seconds rest, starting with 12 repetitions and work up to 20 repetitions. Finally, try distance jogging of 30 minutes every other week to practice your breathing patterns and form.
Scheduling the various runs in a way that your body has time to recover between sessions is also important to prevent injuries and overtraining.
Example Beep Test Training Program
If you're looking for an easy to follow running training plan, you'll find one below. Here are the explanations for each session types.
Run 50m in 15sec. Rest in place for 15sec. Repeat this process for the allocated number of reps. After completing the allocated reps Eg 8 (4mins) then you rest for 3mins. Complete this whole process 3 times.
You should be making the line at about the 14sec mark. Effort Level 8/10 is about halfway between a sprint and a jog. If you are finding 50m too hard or too easy, then you may adjust the distance but keep the Effort Level at 8/10 and aim to arrive at the line at 14sec.
This is where you have an active rest. Your active rest for these sessions is a slow jog. The Effort Level is at 9/10 during the fast run phase of the session.
The idea of these sessions is to run as far as you can in the allocated time. E.g. 3min run/2min rest. Run as far as you can in the 3mins, rest in place for 2mins then try and make it back to your original start point in the next 3min run.
Longer Distance Run
This run shouldn't require too much exertion. You should still be able to maintain a chat if you are running with someone else. Getting some time under your legs is great for conditioning.
Doing the test
Once you are ready for your test, there are a few things to remember:
The Beep Test may sound like a walk in the park at the beginning, but if your body is not conditioned to react and pick up the pace as it needs to, you may get out of breath before hitting that target. If getting into the ADF is important to you, focusing your training with the physical requirements in mind will take you there.
If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch!
Michael and Carly both have walked the path you are about to take and are commited to help you get started with your training for a successful enlistment with free tips and articles.