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California Department of Education

Physical Fitness Test - Report Definitions

Physical Fitness Tasks

Aerobic Capacity.. This is perhaps the most important indicator of physical fitness and assesses the capacity of the cardiorespiratory system by measuring endurance. In 2011, the FITNESSGRAM1 changed the standards for aerobic capacity, these tests now estimate the volume of oxygen used during exercise or VO2max. To calculate the VO2max the following information is needed: age and gender of student, mile run time, and height and weight converted to Body Mass Index (BMI). The formulas used to estimate VO2max can be found in the PFT Reference Guide on the PFT Web page at (Outside Source).

The Pacer (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run). This is a multi-stage fitness test set to music, which provides a valid, engaging alternative to the customary distance run. The objective is to run as long as possible back and forth across a 20-meter distance at a specified pace that increases each minute.

One Mile Walk/Run. The objective is to walk and/or run a mile distance at the fastest pace possible.

Walk Test.The objective is to walk a one mile distance as quickly as possible while maintaining a constant walking pace the entire distance. This test is for students ages 13 and older. A formula is used to estimate VO2 max for the student

Body Composition. Body composition results provide an estimate of the percent of a student's weight that is fat in contrast to the "fat-free" body mass made up of muscles, bones, and organs. In 2011, the FITNESSGRAM changed the standards for body composition; these tests have been equated so results from any test will have similar results.

Skinfold Measurements. The thickness of the skinfold is measured using a device called a skinfold caliper. Two sites are measured: the back of the upper arm (i.e., triceps) and the inside of the right calf. A formula is used to calculate percent body fat using the measurements from these two sites.

Bioelectric Impedance Analyzer. Is a handheld or scale-like device that estimates the student’s percent body fat. A formula is used to estimate the percent fat. In 2006, the use of a bioelectric impedance analyzer was adopted as a test for body composition.

Body Mass Index. This test provides an indication of the appropriateness of a student's weight relative to his or her height. Height and weight measurements are used to calculate a body mass index.

Abdominal Strength and Endurance. Abdominal strength and endurance are important in promoting good posture and correct pelvic alignment. Strength and endurance of the abdominal muscles are important in maintaining lower back health.

Curl-up. The objective of this test is to complete as many curl-ups as possible, up to a maximum of 75, at a pace of one curl-up every three seconds.

Trunk Extensor and Flexibility. This test is related to lower back health and alignment.

Trunk Lift. The objective of this test is to lift the upper body to a maximum of 12 inches off the floor using the muscles of the back and to hold the position to allow for the measurement.

Upper Body Strength and Endurance. This test measures the strength and endurance of the upper body and is related to maintenance of correct posture. It is important to have strong muscles that can work forcefully and/or over a period of time.

Push-up. The objective of this test is to complete as many 90° push-ups as possible at a pace of one 90° push-up every three seconds.

Modified Pull-up. The objective of this test is to successfully complete as many modified pull-ups as possible.

Pull-up. The objective of this test is to correctly complete as many pull-ups as possible. In 2006, FITNESSGRAM® discontinued the Pull-up test.

Flexed Arm Hang. The objective of this test is to hang with the chin above a bar as long as possible.

Overall Flexibility. This component measures joint flexibility which is important to functional health.

Back Saver Sit and Reach. The objective is to assess the flexibility of the lower back and posterior thigh. The student should be able to reach a specified distance while sitting at a sit-and-reach box. Both the right and left side of the body are measured.

Shoulder Stretch. This is a simple test of upper body flexibility. The student should be able to touch the fingertips together behind the back by reaching over the shoulder and under the elbow. Both the right and left side of the body are measured.


1 FITNESSGRAM and Healthy Fitness Zone are registered trademarks of The Cooper Institute.