Preparing for the shuttle run
In this section you will find information to help you prepare for the shuttle run as well as running programs. When researching for this test you may also find it is called a beep test. Please note that there are 15m and 20m versions of the test available. You will be tested on the 20m version.
Cardiovascular fitness is extremely important to a firefighter. Cardiovascular fitness allows you to:
- Perform repeat efforts
- Perform at a higher level for a long period of time
- Delay the onset of fatigue during activity
- Improve recovery post-activity
The above points are all key physical requirements in the role of a firefighter. In addition to the above, a higher level of cardiovascular fitness helps your body cope with performing tasks in extreme conditions and the accompanied stress on the body which is common during a career as a firefighter.
Including running in your training program is essential, however there are other forms of cardiovascular fitness that can be beneficial to add to your training. These include:
- Bike Riding
- Circuit Training
Shuttle run training tips
The only sure way to make significant improvements in the shuttle run is to train well to improve your fitness. Level 9.6 is the pass mark, it is a good idea to try and achieve higher than this in training. Too often we see people fail the test who thought they would just get it on the day. Hoping is not a strategy.
There are plenty of Shuttle Run/Beep Test apps that you can download to prepare for the test. You should also make sure you practice on a 20m flat section. This can easily be measured on a netball or basketball court. Please be aware that versions of the Shuttle Run may vary and self-administered tests should be used as a guide only.
Use an efficient running and turning technique. This can help conserve energy for the later stages of the test. Don't run further than you need to, as you come to the turn, time it so that one foot just touches the line, turn sharply and not in a wide arc.
Nerves on The Day
You may find that you experience a level of nerves on the day of testing which is a very common response. If you think you may be nervous on the day you might like to research coping techniques such as visualization or tactical breathing. Hopefully you have been training for the test and have reached 9.6 prior to the testing day. This should give you the confidence that you can achieve a positive result.
Know What to Expect
It is important to understand the process of the test. Be familiar with the test procedure and understand the rules for elimination. The rules will be made clear to you prior to taking the test on the day. Pay attention to these instructions as you do not want to be knocked out of the test early due to a mistake. You will be running the test indoor, most likely on a basketball court. While you may choose to practice on a different surface, please note that this may be more difficult or easier than the basketball court.
Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions, such as active wear, and non-slip athletic footwear with laces securely fastened. Remove any restrictive jewelry, watches, bracelets or hanging earrings that may get caught in your clothes or be a distraction.
Have a Positive Mindset
It is important to be in a good frame of mind, and not scared of the test or what is to come. Be motivated to push yourself out of your comfort zone on the day. Practicing the test should help you have confidence in your ability.
Be Well Rested
Avoid heavy strenuous exercise 24 hours prior to testing. Consider avoiding exercise on the day leading up to the test to ensure your body is well rested.
In the two hours before completing the test do not consume a heavy meal; however, you should eat something in the four hours prior to testing. Ensure you are well hydrated prior to the test.
Be sure to perform an adequate warm-up. Start with 5-10 minutes of light aerobic activity, such as jogging, followed by active stretches and lastly, perform a few practice runs over 20m (include turning), gradually increasing your running speed. You will be taken through a warm up prior to your test on the day.
Shuttle run training tips for women
Running Next to Men
You may find that you are the only woman running in your group. We ensure there is ample room for each participant to run the test and participants are not permitted to bump into other participants. You are not in a competition with the men on the day. Everybody is only required to reach 9.6 and then the test is stopped. You have earnt your spot in the shuttle run and should not be intimidated. From experience we have found the majority of people are very supportive of their fellow participants during the run.
Over the years we have received feedback from some candidates that felt menstruation had affected their performance output. As every woman is different we encourage you to be familiar with your cycle & how it affects your physical performance. Some women have no issue training and competing through all phases of their cycle whereas others may require support. If this is the case for you, we encourage you to research how you can support yourself to ensure you feel strong and confident on the day.
The use of a planned and structured program will help to improve your cardiovascular fitness and running performance. The minimum requirement for a career firefighter is a score of 9.6 on the shuttle run. To achieve this standard on the test, it is important to train with moderate and high intensities. The days of long, slow distance running to improve aerobic capacity are out-dated with research backing this up.
The shuttle run is a multi-staged, shuttle-based, aerobic capacity test. If you’re going to train and be well prepared for such a test, you need a training program that mimics these demands as well as the tactical knowledge and practice at doing the test.
The running programs are split into three different levels based on ability. These programs are general in nature and are not a “how to pass” plan. You must consider the amount of running that works best for you to ensure success in your shuttle run test. Some candidates will need to use all of the sessions in a program to improve their running up to minimum standard, while other candidates will benefit from 1-2 running sessions a week and incorporating more strength training into their week. You are encouraged to use what best works for you and your needs
Running Program #1 – The Beginner Program
Program #1 expects that you aren't currently running. You would most likely finish this program running 1km in 5 to 7 minutes. Generally speaking, for many, overcoming the first kilometre is the hardest. There is an abundance of couch to 5km programs available on the internet but very few that focus on the first kilometre.
Running Program #2 – The Intermediate Program
Program #2 expects that you can run 1km in less than 7mins. This program utilizes a 3-speed running method (jog, run & stride). A jog is typically speed ~40%, a run is a speed ~60% and a stride is a speed ~80%. This approach works best once you are already comfortable running a kilometre and has been proven through research to improve running speed, which is important to pass the shuttle run.
Running Program #3 – The Advanced Program
Program #3 is for experienced runners who run regularly. Again, this utilises the 3-speed running method but has an increase in the overall volume which is suited to those with a solid running base.
It is important to note the use of rest while running. Some of the best runners in the world do not run on consecutive days. You should allow your body to rest and recover between runs and it is recommended you take 24-48hrs between running sessions.
Please Note: These programs are general in nature and do not account for individual differences.