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Harvard Step Test

Testing and measurement are the means of collecting information upon which subsequent performance evaluations and decisions are made but in the analysis we need to bear in mind the factors that may influence the results. The Harvard Step Test was developed by Brouha et al. (1943)[2]

Objective

The objective of this test is to monitor the development of the athlete's cardiovascular system.

Required Resources

To undertake this test you will require:

  • Gym bench (45cm high)
  • Stopwatch
  • Assistant

How to conduct the test

This test requires the athlete to step up and down off a gym bench for 5 minutes at a rate 30 steps/minute

  • The athlete warms up for 10 minutes
  • The assistant gives the command "GO" and starts the stopwatch
  • The athlete steps up and down onto a standard gym bench once every two seconds for five minutes (150 steps)
  • The assistant stops the test after 5 minutes
  • The assistant measures the athlete's heart rate (bpm) one minute after finishing the test - Pulse1
  • The assistant measures the athlete's heart rate (bpm) two minutes after finishing the test - Pulse2
  • The assistant measures the athlete's heart rate (bpm) three minutes after finishing the test - Pulse3
Harvard Step Test - start Harvard step test - finish

Assessment

Using the three pulse rates (bpm) an estimate of your level of fitness can be determined as follows:

  • Result = 30000 ÷ (pulse1 + pulse2 + pulse3)

For an estimate of your level of fitness enter your gender, pulse rates (Pulse 1, Pulse 2 and Pulse 3) and then select the 'Calculate' button.

Gender
Pulse 1 = bpm Pulse 2 = bpm Pulse 3 = bpm
How fit are you? points

Calculations are based on the normative data table[1]

Normative data for the Harvard Step Test

The following table is for 16 year old athletes (Beashel and Taylor 1997)[1] using a 45cm step.

Gender Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
Male >90.0 80.0-90.0 65.0-79.9 55.0-64.9 <55
Female >86.0 76.0-86.0 61.0-75.9 50.0-60.9 <50

Analysis

Analysis of the test result is by comparing it with the athlete's previous results for this test. It is expected that, with appropriate training between each test, the analysis would indicate an improvement in the athlete's level of fitness.

Target Group

This test is suitable for active and sedentary athletes but not for individuals where the test would be contraindicated.

Reliability

Test reliability refers to the degree to which a test is consistent and stable in measuring what it is intended to measure. Reliability will depend upon how strict the test is conducted and the individual's level of motivation to perform the test. The following link provides a variety of factors that may influence the results and therefore the test reliability.

Validity

Test validity refers to the degree to which the test actually measures what it claims to measure and the extent to which inferences, conclusions, and decisions made on the basis of test scores are appropriate and meaningful. This test provides a means to monitor the effect of training on the athlete's physical development.

Advantages

  • Minimal equipment required
  • Simple to set up and conduct
  • Can be conducted almost anywhere

Disadvantages

  • Assistant required to administer the test

Free Calculator

  • The Harvard Step Test - a free Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that you can download and use on your computer.

Referenced Material

  1. BEASHEL, P and TAYLOR, J (1997) Fitness for Health and performance. In: BEASHEL, P and TAYLOR, J, The World of Sport Examined. Croatia: Thomas Nelson and Sons, p. 55
  2. BROUGH, L. et al. (1943) The step test: A simple method of measuring physical fitness for muscular work in young men. Research quarterly, 14, p. 31-35

Associated References

  • RYHMING, I. (1953) A modified Harvard step test for the evaluation of physical fitness. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 15 (3), p. 235-250
  • KEEN, E. N., and SLOAN, A. W. (1958) Observations on the Harvard step test.Journal of Applied Physiology, 13 (2), p. 241-243
  • SLOAN, A. W. (1959) A modified Harvard step test for women. Women, 16 (4), p. 68-69

Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2007) Harvard Step Test [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/havard.htm [Accessed

Associated Pages

The following Sports Coach pages should be read in conjunction with this page: