The Chester Step Test Kit
The step test is a great way to predict someone’s Vo2 max developed by Professor Kevin Sykes in 1990.
Used by the Fire Brigade and the Police Force, and commissioned by the Home Office. The Chester Step Test is now used within the fitness industry. Including occupational health, uniformed services, oil industry medicals and educational establishments.
The Step Test is ideal for use by a wide range of exercise and health professionals. It’s a simple, reliable predictive assessment of aerobic capacity.
The test is a submaximal, multistage, aerobic capacity test. Which is also mobile, making it suitable for testing anywhere and for all ages as well as all levels of fitness.
The test can use variety, of Step heights. These include 15cm, 20cm, 25cm, and 30cm. It can accommodate a broad range of ages and abilities and shows no gender-bias.
The step test is suitable for all levels of fitness including sedentary individuals. Because it starts at a gentle pace of 15 steps per minute. Then every 2 minutes the rate increases by five steps per minute. The test subject does not have to complete the whole five stages to get a result.
They only need to complete 3 Stages to get accurate results. Although, in extreme cases, 2 Stages are enough. Those with lower limb injury or complaints should not attempt this test.
Chester Step Protocol
Check subject against pre-assessment guidelines and select appropriate step height
Enter the subject’s name and age on the appropriate CST Data sheet. Then calculate their Max Heart Rate using 220 – Age and 80% MHR.
Enter these values at the top of the Data sheet. Then draw two horizontal lines on the graph to illustrate these benefits.
Fit the Heart rate watch.
Inform the subject by demonstrating the stepping technique at a rate of 15 steps/min.
Emphasise that the whole foot is placed on the step. Then the leg should be straightened when stepping up. Inform the subject that they may change the lead leg, if they so wish, at the start of a new stepping Level. Explain that the metronome begins at a slow pace. They should attempt to keep to the right rhythm throughout the test as the tempo increases.
Turn on the audio and ask the subject to listen to the instructions and begin stepping at the guided rate. Give further encouragement to keep in time with the stepping rhythm.
After the first 2 minutes of stepping Level 1, you will check heart rate and perceived exertion. Please ensure that you keep a regular check on heart rate throughout the test. Then record a stable mean value over the last few seconds of each Level. This will help drop any erroneous fluctuations that might occur. The subject should then state their Exertion Level – as a number from the RPE chart. Record both HR and RPE on the CST data sheet.
Providing the heart rate is below 80% max HR, and the RPE is below 14. The subject should continue stepping into Level II, a faster rate.
Re-record the HR and RPE at the end of Level II.
Providing the HR is below 80% max HR, and the RPE is below 14. The subject should continue stepping into Level III faster rate.
Continue the test in this manner until either the target heart rate of 80% max HR or the subject reports an RPE of 14.
Note: If 80% max heart rate while stepping in mid-level. Provided an RPE scale of less than 14 and the subject appears to be handling the stepping. Then the test would continue to the end of that Level and then end.
Here’s a post on selecting the correct step height.
Plotting Test Results
Using the results sheet available in the Chester Step Test Resource Manual or as a tear off sheet pad.
Draw two lines across the chart to show; 1. The subject’s greatest heart rate MHR (220 – age), and 2. The subjects 80% of MHR (MHR * 0.8).
For each stage (1 – 5), plot the subjects heart rate, use the vertical black line for the 25cm step or the vertical red line for the 30cm step. Also, at each stage, ask the subject to rate how much effort they are putting in using the Borg Scale (shown on the right). Continue until either the subjects heart rates meet the lower line (80% of their MHR). Or all five stages are complete.
DO NOT EXCEED 80% MHR during this test. (note if subject MHR exceeds 80% they may complete the current phase if they are comfortable). Stop the test if their effort, using the Borg scale, meets or exceeds level 14 at any stage.
Draw a line of best fit between the heart rate plots. Extend the line to meet the subjects MHR. Where this line intersects draw a vertical line down to the bottom scale. Read off this number; this is the subject’s score.
Whichever step you use to ensure you record the heart rate against the correct step height.
The oxygen costs are different at varying step heights. This is why the results will be inaccurate if you record against the wrong step height. The easiest way to record all this data is on the resource pad.
Or, the Chester step prediction software takes into account all this information.
There are no advantages or disadvantages of lower or higher step heights.
Use the results table for assessments results.
For more information, please visit the product pages below.
Chester Step Test Kit
Chester Step Test Calculator
Chester Step Test Resource Manual