HARVARD STEP TEST – Know Your Fitness Level

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harvard step test

Harvard Step Test is a cardiovascular or aerobic fitness test. The test was developed by Brouha et al. (1943) during WW II. This test is also used to detect and diagnose cardiovascular disease. The test is based on the recovery rate from strenuous exercise.

Equipment Required

Step or Platform between 16 to 20 inches, a stopwatch, and a metronome, or one can count out loud or take help from another person. Generally, 20 inches is used for men and 16 inches is used for women.

Pre-test preparation

It is important to explain the test procedure to the person who will be undergoing the test. It is important to stop the test immediately if someone feels uncomfortable or becomes breathless. Avoid extreme temperatures.


The athlete stands in front of the bench or a chosen height as per gender. Start the stopwatch and start moving up and down on the bench or box. The rate must be 30 steps per minute (one second to move up and one second to come down). Ensure that you move the same leg up every time. Do this for 5 minutes and reset the stopwatch. Sit down in a cool comfortable place immediately after the test is complete to take the readings.

We have to take three readings by calculating pulse or heart rate for 30 seconds after predefined intervals. Rest for 1 min and take the reading from 1 min to 1min 30 seconds i.e. for 30 seconds and count the pulse (Heart rate). Take someone’s help if required. Now again rest for 30 seconds and take another reading between 2 min and 2 min 30 sec. After resting for 30 sec again, take the third and last reading between 3 min and 3 min 30 sec. Thus, we will have three readings.


The Fitness Index of the person undergoing the test can be calculated with the help of the following formula:-
Fitness Index Score = (100 X test duration in seconds)/{2 X (Sum of Heartbeats in recovery period)}

For example, if we did the test for 5 min that is 300 sec and the readings were as under:-

Between 1 min and 1 min 30 sec — 58

For next reading between 2 min and 2 min 30 sec – 49

For third reading between 3 min and 3 min 30 sec – 44

The sum of the three
readings are 151

Fitness Index Score = (100 X 300)/(2 X 151) = 99.3

Watch the video

Compare from the table
below to know the fitness level

harvard step test

Article by: Capt Jitender Harjai Fitness Expert H2F Care

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