Fitness Combine 2.0
Read the evolution of Ryan Ketchum’s combine testing system and cover the Fitness Combine 2.0 concept.
Today I wanted to share the evolution of my combine testing system and cover the Fitness Combine 2.0 concept that I designed.
As a former track athlete, the decathlon and other multi-events fascinated me. The athletes competing in these events were some of the best all-around athletes on the planet. With a unique scoring system for the events in a decathlon you can essentially level the field a bit without completely eliminating strengths of an athlete. In the first version of the combine testing I shared with you all of the events were based on endurance or strength endurance. It neglected all of the other qualities of fitness including power and strength. So, it wasn’t a true test of the fittest individual. That’s where I looked to steal the scoring system from track and field’s multi events and use that in a Fitness Combine scoring system. But first we had to select the tests.
Fitness Combine 2.0 Tests
I set out to find the best, but also safest and easy to implement tests for various qualities of fitness. Here is the final list…
Power: Vertical Jump, Broad Jump
Strength: 3RM Deadlift
Strength Endurance: Plank, Chin Up, Push Up
Endurance: Beep Test
The push up and chin up could be either strength or strength endurance. Being that they are done for reps instead of weight I chose to label them strength endurance.
It would be easy to substitute some of the exercises out due to space or equipment limitations. You also don’t have to include all of the tests. One from each category would be sufficient for testing purposes.
A modified testing protocol may look like this:
Push Up Test
Beep Test (Or Harvard Step Up Test)
Testing Protocols and Substitutions
1) Vertical Jump
Equipment: Vertec, backboard, or wall
- Measure standing reach, in shoes, on the Vertec or wall. Stand with both feet flat on the ground, legs and torso straight. Reach up with a both arms straight, wrist, and hand. With your fingers, touch at the highest point
- Jump straight up as high as possible and, with a straight arm, tap the Vertec device or mark the wall at the highest point (figure 1.1). No shuffle steps, side steps, drop steps, or gather steps are allowed.
- Make two attempts. If, on the second attempt, you reach a higher height, a third attempt is awarded.
- The vertical jump is the difference, in inches, between the standing reach and the jump reach.
FR Fit- 29”+
FR Fit- 24”+
2) Broad Jump
Equipment required: tape measure to measure distance jumped, non-slip floor for takeoff, and soft landing area preferred. The take off line should be clearly marked.
Procedure: The athlete stands behind a line marked on the ground with feet slightly apart. A two foot take-off and landing is used, with swinging of the arms and bending of the knees to provide forward drive. The subject attempts to jump as far as possible, landing on both feet without falling backwards. Three attempts are allowed. See somelong jump video examples.
Scoring: The measurement is taken from take-off line to the nearest point of contact on the landing (back of the heels). Record the longest distance jumped, the best of three attempts.
FR Fit- 8’6”
FR Fit- 7’
3) 4 Minute Push Up Test
- Begin the test in the up position.
- Start the timer before the first descent.
- For a rep to count, you must go all the way down until the elbow is at least at a 90-degree angle (chest 2 inches off the floor) and lock out the elbows at the top. The core must stay locked and move up and down with every rep using the toes as the fulcrum of the movement.
- You can rest/stop whenever you want, but the clock must keep running.
- Poor reps in terms of body position or putting down a knee before a rep is completed don’t count toward the total score.
- Stop counting when 1 minute has elapsed and record your score.
Pacing during the test is critical to achieving your best score. Although I like to jump out with a big number in my first set, I caution you not to push your initial sets to complete fatigue because once you’re out of gas, you don’t have enough time during the test to recover.
When you feel you’re slowing down, rest for 15 seconds and then start again. As you get more tired, however, you may have to rest more often and then you must try to bang out as many smaller sets as you can until the finish.
If your wrists bother you, perform the push-up on your knuckles, which keeps the wrists in a more neutral position.
Make sure to complete each rep. There’s nothing worse than going for an extra rep, missing, and not adding to your score.
FR Fit- 100
FR Fit- 75
4) 3RM Deadlift
Straight Bar, load it up, pick it up, set it down, repeat. No hitching. Caution is to be used. If at any time the coach determines the test becomes unsafe it is over. All 3 reps must be completed for the result to count. Hands may not leave the bar to reset, must be performed continuously.
FR Fit- 1.75x BW
Silver- 1.25x BW
Bronze- 1x BW
FR Fit- 1.5x BW
Bronze- .75x BW
If needed due to the fact that your athletes or clients may not deadlift you can perform a Trap Bar Deadlift or a 5RM RFE Split Squat Test.
Trap Bar Deadlift
Warm the client up properly and use a Trap Bar to perform this lift. The lift must start from the ground and the same height handles must be used for all tests. We recommend using the higher handles if possible. The coach may determine at any point that the test is complete if it becomes unsafe to continue. All 3 reps must be completed for the result to count. All reps must be done continuously and the hands remain on the handles.
FR Fit- 2x BW
Gold 1.75x BW
Silver 1.5x BW
Bronze 1.25 BW
FR Fit 1.75x BW
Gold 1.5x BW
Silver 1.25x BW
Bronze .75x BW
RFE Split Squat 3RM Test
For athletes or clients that cannot perform the deadlift or other variations you can test the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat. In this test you will place the client will place the rear foot on a bench or box 15-18” in height. The front foot position should allow for a vertical shin angle at the bottom of the movement.
An airex pad or 2” pad should be placed under the back knee to serve as a depth gauge.
Load the client with DB’s, KBs, and/or a weight vest to achieve the required load. DBs and KBs are safer options than a barbell. The client can drop the DBs or KBs if needed during the test.
All reps must be full reps with the back knee touching the pad and then the front leg locking out at the top. The torso should remain vertical. All reps must be completed on both legs with no more than 30s rest between attempts on each leg.
FR Fit 1xBW
Gold .8x BW
Silver .6x BW
Bronze .5x BW
FR Fit.9x BW
Gold .75x BW
Silver .65x BW
Bronze .5x BW
5) Beep Test
The Beep Test Protocol
a) The Beep Test is performed over a distance of 20-meters; this distance is marked out with two cones or two lines (e.g. marked with chalk or tape) which are placed exactly 20-meters apart.
b) There are 21-levels on the full beep test and each level has a set amount of stages to complete. The higher the level the greater the number of stages to complete e.g. Level -1 has 7 stages, level -11 has 12 stages and the final level -21 has 16 stages. Each level goes for approximately 1-minute. Each increase in level is accompanied by an increase in the beep tempo (beeps get closer together). The test starts at 8.5 km/hr (level-1) and increases by 0.5km/hr at each level The supplied soundtrack will take you to Level 7, Stage 5.
c) Your end score will be based on the amount of stages you were able to complete. If, for example at Level -7 you were able to complete 8 Stages, your final test score would be 7/8.
d) “THE ACTUAL TEST” The participant turns their“Beep Test”on and positions themselves adjacent to one of the cones. The participant then starts on the starter’s command and must continually touch the opposite cone (or place any part of a foot on the marked line), keeping in tempo with the beeps.
e) Once the participant is unable to get to the next cone before the scheduled beep, the test then continues for one more beep/cone, if the participant is successful in playing “catch up” and can reach the next cone before the next beep, then the test continues, however if the participant fails two consecutive beeps/cones, then the test ends and their final score reverts back to the last successful cone attempt.
Levels & Stages
Level 1 at 8.5km/hr has 7 stages Level 2 at 9.0 km/hr has 8 stages Level 3 at 9.5 km/hr has 8 stages Level 4 at 10.0 km/hr has 9 stages Level 5 at 10.5 km/hr has 9 stages Level 6 at 11.0 km/hr has 10 stages Level 7 at 11.5 km/hr has 10 stages Level 8 at 12.0 km/hr has 11 stages Level 9 at 12.5 km/hr has 11 stages Level 10 at 13.0 km/hr has 11 stages Level 11 at 13.5 km/hr has 12 stages
Level 12 at 14.0 km/hr has 12 stages Level 13 at 14.5 km/hr has 13 stages Level 14 at 15.0 km/hr has 13 stages Level 15 at 15.5 km/hr has 13 stages Level 16 at 16.0 km/hr has 14 stages Level 17 at 16.5 km/hr has 14 stages Level 18 at 17.0 km/hr has 15 stages Level 19 at 17.5 km/hr has 15 stages Level 20 at 18.0 km/hr has 16 stages Level 21 at 18.5 km/hr has 16 stages
FR Fit- 12
FR Fit- 11
Due to the space and time requirements for a Beep Test you may perform a Step Test to measure VO2 Max and Aerobic Fitness.
Harvard Step Test
- 16-18” box, step or bench. (Stay consistent with your testing)
- Metronome (http://www.metronomeonline.com/ or get the Metronome App)
- Step up and down, one foot at a time, on to the step or bench for 5 minutes
- Maintain a steady four beat cycle (complete 1 step every 2 seconds)
- Have the client sit immediately after the test
- Count the total heart beats for the client from 1min-1.5 min post test, again at 2-2.5 min and finally from 3-3.4 Min
To calculate results you will use the following formula:
(100x(Total Time for Test))/((Total Beats Counted)x2)
So for instance if you performed the complete test for 300s (5 minutes) and the heart beats counted were 90, 80 and 70 you would use the following info:
FR Fit 90+
6) Chin Up or Inverted Row
Chin up- Grasp the overhead bar using either an overhand grip (palms facing away from body) or underhand grip (palms facing toward body), with the arms fully extended. The subject then raises the body until the chin clears the top of the bar, then lowers again to a position with the arms fully extended. The pull-ups should be done in a smooth motion. Jerky motion, swinging the body, and kicking the legs is not permitted. As many full pull-ups as possible are performed. The client may rest at the top or bottom without letting go of the bar. The test is completed when the client fails to complete two consecutive attempts or the test is stopped by the coach or client.
FR Fit- 15
FR Fit- 8
If you are unable to test chin ups or your clients cannot you can perform the inverted row test.
Inverted Row- Set a bar at hip height in a rack. The client will then get under the bar with a shoulder width grip or slightly (no more than 2”) wider. The clients should be directly under the bar with the feet spread to shoulder width apart or narrower and the body in a straight line. The client will then perform as many reps as possible in a continuous fashion. For the rep to count the arms must start fully extended, the chest must touch the bar, and then return to the fully extended position. No kipping is allowed, the body must move together as one unit. The client can rest at the bottom if needed. The test is ended once the client fails to complete a full rep on two consecutive tries or it is stopped by the coach or client.
FR Fit- 22
FR Fit- 15
7) Plank Endurance
Assume a basic plank position, with your weight resting on your forearms and toes. Your body should form a straight line from neck to ankles. You want your feet hip-width apart and your elbows directly below your shoulders. Set the dowel along your back. It should make contact at three points: the back of your head, between your shoulder blades, and your tailbone. Hold that position. Stop if your body loses contact with the dowel at one of these three points.
FR Nation Fit- 3:00
The Scoring System
Using the tests above and the rankings system it’s easy to develop a scoring system based on a 1000 point system.
Essentially your “VPS Fit” Level or highest level is equal to 1000 points in the scoring system. In track and field the scoring system is based on the current World Records for the event, so you can always adjust the top level if you wish to your current gym records. Using a simple multiplier and spreadsheet you can calculate scores easily to track your fittest clients and keep a record board not only for each event but also for overall fitness.
Here are examples of the scorecards:
Male Score Card
To modify your tests for group training you can simply change out the tests, remove tests as needed and adjust your top level scoring. While this isn’t a perfect system it is an improvement over the previous version of the Fitness Combine. If you have been looking for a way to motivate and assess client performance this might be it.