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Harvard Step Test

Harvard Step Test


The Harvard step test is an effective way to assess fitness by measuring your recovery rate.

What is the point?

What is fitness? There are various ways of measuring it. The Harvard step test uses recovery rate as an indicator – this is important for athletes who have bursts of activity followed by rest periods, such as footballers, rugby players and basketball players.

What do you need?

  • Gym bench (45cm high)

  • Stop watch

  • Assistant

How do you do the test?

  • Step up on to a standard gym bench once every two seconds for five minutes (150 steps)

  • An assistant can help you keep the required pace

  • One minute after finishing, take your pulse (bpm) – this is Pulse 1

  • Two minutes after finishing, take your pulse again – this is Pulse 2

  • Three minutes after finishing, take your pulse for the final time – this is Pulse 3

  • Use the calculator below to determine your level of fitness

What results you’ll get :

By comparing your results over several months, you can get a good gauge of any improvements in your fitness level.

Taking the three pulse measurements, your level of fitness can be determined as follows:

Result = 30000 ? (pulse1 + pulse2 + pulse3)

Normative data for the Harvard Step Test

The following table is for 16 year old athletes.



Above Average


Below Average














What is being measured again?

This is a good measure of general cardiovascular fitness.

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