Today we’re looking at fitness – specifically the beep test.

Now this is a real measure of your aerobic fitness and a fundamental part of the selection test to be a firefighter. By its very nature, the test is designed to take you to the very limits of your fitness levels. Sounds like a challenge!

There are lots of free downloads available to try out the beep test and here are some tips on improving cardiovascular fitness that will help prepare you to make real progress and increase your endurance.

If you can get on a treadmill, get on board and work through the plan below:

  • Set the incline to 1% and spend the first five minutes getting warmed up by walking at a good pace.
  • Once you are done with the warm up, set the pace at 8km per hour and increase that pace by 0.5km per hour every minute.  Keep increasing the pace until you can’t continue comfortably.

Here’s a handy table to give you an idea of what we mean…

Beep test table

Remember to record your results.  Each time you take the test, write down either the speed you reached or the minute you stopped and that way you can track your progress.

You should aim to see an improvement to take you to the next level around every three times you take the test.  See how you get on…

Not got a treadmill handy?  Not to worry, this video explains the basics of setting up and getting started.


But what about technique; can it make that much difference? Well, the simple answer is yes. It’s all in the turn…

The turn can begin to drain your energy as the test progresses.  So what can you do to make it easier?

  • Put one foot on the line rather than right over the line. I appreciate that sounds pretty lame as a top tip, but believe me, that wasted extra effort soon mounts up and makes a big difference as the test goes on.
  • Make sure your turning technique is smooth – dip into your turn as your foot touches the line before pushing back away. That way you can keep your turn on the spot and use your momentum to push you in the right direction. Have a practice and see how you can really tailor your turn to suit your style.
  • You might find that you have a preference with which foot you turn with. Try with both and then focus on what feels best for you.  Or, alternate if that helps to spread the stress across both legs as the test progresses.

As with all exercises, remember to prepare your body.  Make sure that you:

  • Are properly hydrated in advance of the test.
  • Have eaten a light meal or had a pre-workout smoothie 1-2 hours beforehand.
  • Have had enough sleep. Your body and mind need adequate time to rest for top performance so make sure you include a good night’s sleep as part of your workout.

Go on, get your kit on and give it a go!