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Multi-Stage Fitness Test

Testing and measurement are the means of collecting information upon which subsequent performance evaluations and decisions are made. In the analysis, we need to consider the factors influencing the results.


The objective of the Multi-Stage Fitness Test (MSFT), developed by Leger & Lambert (1982)[1], is to monitor the development of the athlete's maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max).

This test is perfect for game players as it is specific to the nature of the sport, but, due to the short sharp turns, it is perhaps not suitable for rowers, runners or cyclists.

Required Resources

To conduct this test, you will require:

  • Flat non-slip surface
  • 30-metre tape measure
  • Marking Cones
  • The Multi-Stage Fitness Test audiotape or CD
  • A tape recorder or CD Player
  • Recording sheets
  • Assistant

How to conduct the test

This test requires the athlete to run 20m in time with a beep from a CD recording. The athlete must place one foot on or beyond the 20m marker at the end of each shuttle.

  • The athlete warms up for 10 minutes
  • The assistant measures out a 20-metre section and marks each end with marker cones
  • The assistant starts the CD, and the athlete commences the test
  • If the athlete arrives at the end of a shuttle before the beep, the athlete must wait for the beep and then resume running
  • If the athlete fails to reach the end of the shuttle before the beep, they should be allowed 2 or 3 further shuttles to attempt to regain the required pace before being withdrawn
  • The assistant records the level and number of shuttles completed at that level by the athlete when they are withdrawn


The athlete's maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) can be determined using the Level and Shuttle achieved from the MSF Table.

The calculator below will provide you with an estimate of your VO2 max. Please note that, compared to the MSF Table values, the calculator result can be in error by up to ± 0.3 mls/kg/min.

Enter the Level and Shuttle you achieved in the MSF test and select the 'Calculate' button.

Level   Shuttle     VO2 max mL/kg/min (± 0.3)

Elite Male Athletes

To calculate VO2 max using the MSFT, the following equation was determined by Kilding et al.(2006)[2] in their research with 26 elite, male, intermittent sports athletes.

  • VO2 max (mL/kg/min) = 0.38 x total number of shuttles completed + 25.98
Level   Shuttle     VO2 max mL/kg/min (± 0.3)

To analyse your VO2 max score, see the VO2 max normative data tables.

Normative data for MSFT

The following tables are adapted from Bizley et al. (2010)[3]


Age Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
14 - 16 L12 S7 L11 S2 L8 S9 L7 S1 < L6 S6
17 - 20 L12 S12 L11 S6 L9 S2 L7 S6 < L7 S3
21 - 30 L12 S12 L11 S7 L9 S3 L7 S8 < L7 S5
31 - 40 L11 S7 L10 S4 L6 S10 L6 S7 < L6 S4
41 - 50 L10 S4 L9 S4 L6 S9 L5 S9 < L5 S2


Age Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
14 - 16 L10 S9 L9 S1 L6 S7 L5 S1 < L4 S7
17 - 20 L10 S11 L9 S3 L6 S8 L5 S2 < L4 S9
21 - 30 L10 S8 L9 S2 L6 S6 L5 S1 < L4 S9
31 - 40 L10 S4 L8 S7 L6 S3 L4 S6 < L4 S5
41 - 50 L9 S9 L7 S2 L5 S7 L4 S2 < L4 S1


The test comprises of 23 levels, and each level lasts approximately one minute. Each level consists of a series of 20m shuttle runs where the starting speed is 8.5km/hr and increases by 0.5km/hr at each level. On the tape/CD, a single beep indicates the end of a shuttle, and three beeps indicate the next level's start.


The starting speed is 8.5km/hr and increases by 0.5km/hr at each level. The time for each 20-metre section can be estimated from the following equation:

  • 20m Time = 72 ÷ ( ( ( Level - 1 ) × 0.5 ) + 8.5 )

e.g. the time for 20m at level 11 is 5.33 seconds.


Knowing that the starting speed is 8.5km/hr and increases by 0.5km/hr at each level and the duration of each level is approximately one minute then, the number of shuttles at each level can be estimated from the following equation:

  • Shuttles = ( ( ( Level - 1 ) × 0.5 ) + 8.5 ) × 0.838

The result is rounded up to the nearest whole number, e.g. the number of shuttles at level 17 is 13.82, rounded up to 14 shuttles.


Analysis of the test result is done by comparing it with the athlete's previous results for this test. With appropriate training between each test, the analysis expected that the analysis would indicate an improvement in the athlete's VO2 max.

Target Group

This test is suitable for endurance athletes and players of endurance sports (e.g. football, rugby) but not for individuals where the test would be contraindicated.


Test reliability refers to how 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 various factors influencing the results and test reliability.


This test provides a means to monitor the effect of training on the athlete's physical development. Test validity refers to the degree to which the test measures what it claims to measure and the extent to which inferences, conclusions, and decisions based on test scores are appropriate and meaningful. Published VO2 max score equivalents for each level reached, and the correlation to actual VO2 max is high. For assessing your your VO2 max, see the VO2 max normative data tables.


  • Simple to set up and conduct
  • More than one athlete can conduct the test at the same time
  • Can be conducted indoors or outdoors


  • Specialist equipment required - CD & CD Player
  • Assistant required to administer the test
  • Due to the short sharp turns, it is perhaps not suitable for rowers, runners or cyclists

Free Calculator

  • Multistage Fitness Test Calculator - a free Microsoft Excel spreadsheet which you can download and use on your computer. The spreadsheet will be loaded into a new window.

Facts and Figures

Information on the number of laps, distances, times, speed and VO2 max are provided for each shuttle in this linked pdf file. The file will be loaded into a new window.


  1. LEGER, L.A. and LAMBERT, J. (1982) A maximal multistage 20m shuttle run test to predict VO2 max. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 49 (1), p. 1-5
  2. KILDING, A.E. et al. (2006) Measuring and predicting maximal aerobic power in international-level intermittent sport athletes. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 46 (3), p. 366-72
  3. BIZLEY, K. et al. (2010) BTEC First Sport Level 2, London, Harper Collins Publishers Limited, p. 303 Figure 3

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1999) Multi-Stage Fitness Test [WWW] Available from: [Accessed