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Step 2: Assess Your Fitness Level

Muscular Endurance

Push-Up Test

Both ACSM and the CSEP recommend using a push-up test to assess upper-body muscular endurance.

Pre-Requisites:

  • Participant must demonstrate the ability to stabilize the entire body while in the starting push-up position (i.e. shoulder girdle, low back, and hips).
  • A correct pushup requires excellent core strength and endurance throughout the entire movement.
  • Use the Modified Push-Up Test if your low back sags, head/neck protracts when attempting a standard push-up.

Preparation:

  • From a prone position, place hands slightly outside shoulder width so forearms are perpendicular to the floor when the elbows are flexed at 90 degrees.
  • When in the starting push-up position with elbows extended (elbows should not lock), the spine must be neutral. Pull the navel in toward the spine to engage the abdominal region.

Protocol:

  1. One participant and one counter.
  2. Men perform a standard push-up (toes as the pivot point). Women have the option of performing a modified push-up (knees as the pivot point).
  3. Flexing at elbows, lower the body, maintaining neutral spine. Elbow must be flexed to 90 degrees at the bottom of the movement.
  4. Push back to starting position.
  5. Complete as many push-ups with good form as possible. Do not count incomplete push-ups. Stop the test when subject strains forcibly or is unable to perform two consecutive push-ups with the correct technique.
  6. There is no time limit or set tempo.
  7. Total and record the number of correctly executed push-ups. Use the following chart to rank the effort.

Norms for Muscle Endurance using the Standard Push-up Test

Age

(years)

Needs Improvement

Fair

Good

Very Good

Excellent

Male

 

 

 

 

 

15-19

≤17

18-22

23-28

29-38

≥39

20-29

≤16

17-21

22-28

29-35

≥36

30-39

≤11

12-16

17-21

22-29

≥30

40-49

≤9

10-12

13-16

17-24

≥25

50-59

≤6

7-9

10-12

13-20

≥21

60+

≤4

5-7

8-10

11-17

≥18

Female

 

 

 

 

 

15-19

≤11

12-17

18-24

25-32

≥33

20-29

≤9

10-14

15-20

21-29

≥30

30-39

≤7

8-12

13-19

20-26

≥27

40-49

≤4

5-10

11-14

15-23

≥24

50-59

≤1

2-6

7-10

11-20

≥21

60+

≤1

2-4

5-11

10-16

≥17

Source: The Canadian Physical Activity, Fitness & Lifestyle Approach: CSEP-Health & Fitness Program’s Health-Related Appraisal and Counseling Strategy, 3 rd Edition.

2 nd Modified Push-Up Test

Pre-Requisites:

  • Participants must be able to support their body from a modified push-up starting position with back and arms straight while supported by the hands and knees.
  • Just as with a standard push-up, a proper modified pushup requires excellent core strength and endurance throughout the entire movement.

Preparation:

  • Start with the core engaged, the spine is neutral, hands on the floor slightly outside shoulder width, and knees as the pivot point.

Procedure:

  • Same as above.

Norms for Females Using the Modified Push-Up Test

Age

(Years)

Very poor

Poor

Average

Good

Excellent

Superior

>

18-29

<17

17-22

23-29

30-35

36-44

>44

30-39

<11

11-18

19-23

24-30

31-38

>38

40-49

<6

6-10

13-17

18-23

24-32

>32

50-59

<5

5-9

12-16

17-20

21-27

>27

60+

<2

2-4

5-11

12-14

15-19

>19

Source: The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, Dallas, Texas.

 

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