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Id like to know whats a simple way of testing fitness. The army seems to prefer push-ups, pull-ups, 2 mile run. But I wonder what happens to testing flexibility or respiratory capacity or peak force. Wouldnt these also be meaningful tests of fitness?

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Depending on your definition of “simple”, there are many evaluation protocols that can be used to measure a specific aspect of an individual's “fitness”. These consist of:

  • Cardiorespiratory efficiency (resting and exercise).
  • Muscular strength and endurance.
  • Muscle and joint flexibility.
  • Body composition.

to name a few. The answer will depend on what it is you're trying to test. For example, the following lists some tests and what they evaluate.

YMCA Sub-maximal Bicycle test – evaluates physical work capacity and estimates maximal oxygen uptake.

Rockport Fitness Walking test – assess cardiovascular fitness.

Bench press test – tests the endurance and strength of the chest and shoulders.

Trunk Flexion/Sit and reach test – measures flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings.

Bioelectrical impedence – measures body composition and body fat.

The above are only a sample of the tests that are available. Testing for 'fitness' means different things to different people. There's no one test that provides a complete picture of an individual's level of fitness. So, as was stated, you'll need to identify what it is you'd like to test, and, select an appropriate testing protocol.

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