All About the Yo-Yo Test

Nitish Phanse
4 min readDec 10, 2018


The yo-yo test derives its name from the toy we once played with as kids. Two disks separated by a wooden spindle upon which a twine was entangled. The impulse imparted by the twine would cause the disks to shuttle in a kids hand.

The yo-yo or the beep test is used to test a persons aerobic capacity and endurance. It is a direct representation of your cardiovascular fitness, and is a perfect simulation for games which require short bursts of pace followed by a short recovery time. A number of sports like football, cricket, rugby use this test as a benchmark to determine an athletes fitness level at the international level. Invented by the Danish soccer player Jens Bangsbo, the test aims to measure the aerobic fitness levels of players by measuring the time taken by the athlete to shuttle between two markers kept at a distance (usually 20m), with a constrained recovery time. When a player fails the test the last completed level is considered as his test score.

How Do I Yo-Yo

The yo-yo test has a pretty simple setup.

It involves a player shuttling between 2 markers that are 20m apart. Each level starts with 2 beeps, indicating the start of a new level, followed by a single beep at a mid time interval and then another beep at the end of the time interval for that level. A player is expected to start running when he hears the first beep, reach the second marker before the half interval beep and run back to the starting before the third beep. This to and fro running is considered as one shuttle. The player then gets a 10 second recovery period before the next shuttle or level. At each level the time difference between the beeps keeps decreasing.

A player starts at speed level 5, which consists of one shuttle. The next speed level, which is 9, also consists of one shuttle. Speed level 11, the next step up, has two shuttles, while level 12 has three and level 13 four. There are eight shuttles per level from 14 upwards. Level 23 is the highest speed level in a yo-yo test, but no one has come close to getting there yet. Each shuttle covers a distance of 40 meters, and the accumulated distance is an aggregate of distance covered at every speed level. At each shuttle the time taken to complete the shuttle is recorded, along with the cumulative distance.

If at any point a player is not able to get back to the starting point, he is given a warning and has to complete that shuttle again, failure to complete the shuttle a second time will result in the end of his test. Scores and times are then calculated.

The chart below is an example of times noted vs each shuttle. If a player fails on the 3rd shuttle of level 15, his score is 15.2

The beeping mechanism is done by any standard yo yo software, even a simple youtube video with just the audio would also suffice. Like this one.

The beep nomenclature is pretty simple.

1 Beep : The speed will remain the same and the next shuttle has started

2 Beeps: The speed for the next level has increased and the shuttle has started.

Why do i get tired so soon?

Even if you’re a regular runner its likely you won’t fare extremely well in a yo yo test. Here’s why,

I was able to run upto level 15.8, which as per the chart above is approximately 1km. However i can comfortably run 4–5km without taking a break, so why does the body tire so easily in the former case ?

The reason is the recovery period. Our bodies are trained to attain a state of homeostasis, which is a state of equilibrium when disturbed by an external agent. When we run/jog for long distances, our breathing gets fine tuned to our pace, and our equilibrium attained is the pace at which we are running. Everything from the oxygen required by the muscles to the amount of blood pumped by the heart goes in sync with our jogging pace, which starts becoming constant. In a yo yo test, after a brief burst we are forced to stop, which acts like an external agent for homeostasis, and then we start running again. So the body never really gets a chance to attain a state of equilibrium, there by the amount of blood pumped increases, and oxygen required by the body and muscles increases, you start drawing deep breaths to meet you oxygen requirement.

When to stop a Yo Yo Test

Achieving a level upwards of 16 is pretty noteworthy. However there are times when you should realise when to stop the test. Everyone’s body is different. If at any moment you start feeling breathless, immense pain in your chest and stomach, dizziness it’s your body telling you to stop. Please do so. Dizziness is caused usually when there is a sudden drop in blood pressure, sitting down sipping cold water is a good way to get your blood pressure back on track.

Sage Advice

Ditch that 20 minute cardio and replace it with a yo-yo test.



Nitish Phanse

Javascript developer. Fiddles around with Node and React. Wants to try scuba diving.