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​YMCA 3-minute step test normative data

YMCA 3-minute step test normative data

This is a 3-minute step test as the name suggests. The test requires stepping on and off a fixed step at a set speed and can be used as a method of aerobic fitness testing.

Because this is a submaximal test, it requires a low level of supervision to perform the test safely.

Pre-Test Conditions

Before you begin, ensure that there are no medical reasons that may prevent someone taking a test.

Make sure the person taking the test is ready for exercise. We recommend that they have not eaten, smoked or drunk tea or coffee for at least 2 hours before.

Ensure that the client is also not recovering from illness or has a cold or is taking any medication that may affect heart rate such as beta blockers.

Ensure that you are in a well ventilated room with a temperature of between 18C-20C.

The person tested should fill in the PARQ physical readiness questionnaire. If they answer yes to any of the questions, then the exercise testing should not take place. Medical clearance may also be necessary.

What you need

  • Results table shown below

How to perform the test

  • Practice the stepping up and down on the bench or step to get familiar with the stepping action
  • Explain the pace and rhythm for the test of up, up, down, down as the stepping cycle
  • Set the metronome to 96 bpm (24 steps per minute)
  • Start the watch and get the subject to start stepping
  • Continue stepping for 3 minutes then stop and sit on the step
  • After 60 seconds of being seated record the heart rate

Interpreting results

The results of the test are not given in Vo2 or Mets like other tests such as the Chester Step Test. They are a rating of aerobic fitness based on a test groups performance. Check the resting heart rate after the 60-second rest with the table below. 

Age 18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 65+
Excellent 50-76 51-76 49-76 56-82 60-77 59-81
Good 79-84 79-85 80-88 87-93 86-94 87-92
Above Average 88-93 88-94 92-88 95-101 97-100 94-102
Average 95-100 96-102 100-105 103-111 103-109 104-110
Below Average 102-107 104-110 108-113 113-119 111-117 114-118
Poor 111-119 114-121 116-124 121-126 119-128 121-126
Very Poor 124-157 126-161 130-163 131-159 131-154 130-151


Morrow, J.R; Jackson, A.;Disch, J.; and Mood, D. 2005. Measurement and evolution in human performance. 3rd ed. (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics) 234; adapted from Y’s Way to Physical Fitness, 3rd edition 1989, with permission of YMCA of the USA.