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Evaluating Fitness with the Birtwell 40-meter Shuttle Test

The Birtwell 40 meter shuttle test is an extended version of the multistage fitness test, also known as the 20m Beep Test. You have to continuously run back and forth between two lines that are spaced 40 meters apart from each other for this test. You are allotted a specific time to complete the test. This time decreases with each repetition, until you are unable to keep up with the running.


The Birtwell 40-meter shuttle test requires a non-slip flat surface and marker cones, just like the 20m Beep Test. A pair of markers are placed 40 meters apart from each other. You will have to stand behind one line and start running when instructed. This test requires two coaches instead of just one. This is because one coach is needed to instruct the running as mentioned on the timing table. The other coach is needed to call out the current rep being run and the level. For instance, Level 3, rep 2. In order to continue running, you have to be within one stride of the line when the signal is given. The test ends when you cannot run anymore. The last level that is completed successfully is recorded.


Your score is the number of reps (40m) and the level you reach before the test stops. The attained score is recorded as level and rep. For example, if you reached level 6 and rep 2, it would be written as 6.2. A good score is said to fall between levels 6 and 7. Results from conducting the Birtwell 40-meter Shuttle Test on some of the fittest U15 rugby players went to around 6.2. U20 national rugby players were found to score about 7.4 in this fitness test.

The Birtwell 40-meter Shuttle Test is best taken after a relatively light practice session, as it can be exhausting. Completing the test generally takes less than 10 minutes. After the test, it's important to record the level at which you stopped. This information can help to record your fitness level when comparing it to subsequent runs. The test is ideal for school groups and sports teams. However, it's not suitable for populations where a maximal fitness test would be contraindicated. Rugby players are generally the ones put through this test.

The Birtwell 40-meter Shuttle Test can be very reliable if it is done properly. The amount of practice you are allowed for this test can influence the reliability of this test. It is a fairly cost effective fitness test, as it can be performed by large groups at the same time. The test also continues to maximum effort, unlike many other endurance capacity tests. Like all other maximal fitness tests, the Birtwell 40-meter Shuttle Test needs an appropriate level of fitness. It is not suitable for people with health conditions, low fitness and injuries, as it can stress them out.

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