YMCA 3 Minute Step Test Calculator

Administer the YMCA 3 Minute Step Test and find your Heart Rate Recovery using this simple calculator.


This test measures your cardiovascular fitness, specifically your Heart Rate Recovery (HRR). After a 3-minute bout of submaximal cardio exercise, you’ll test how quickly your heart rate recovers. Generally speaking, the lower your heart rate, the better your level of cardio fitness.

Required tools

  1. One aerobic step, with 4 risers under each side (30cm or 12in), or an equivalent height box
  2. A metronome, set to 96 BPM
  3. A stopwatch or time keeping device

Original Step set to height for YMCA 3 Minute Step Test

We’ve included a metronome below in case you need one. The metronome will run 14 minutes on its own, which is plenty of time to practice and administer the test.



  1. Set up your step and measure height to be sure it’s 12 inches.
  2. Start the metronome at 96 bpm and instruct the participant (or yourself) to step up and back down to the beat “up, up, down, down.”
    (If you decide to do a few practice steps, stop and fully recover prior to starting the test so that you don’t elevate the heart rate prematurely.)
  3. When you are ready to begin, start your 3-minute timer at the same time as the first step. Continue stepping on the beat until you’ve completed the 3 full minutes.
    If you must terminate the test early due to fatigue, the results will be invalid, but it can still be a valuable tool to see how long your participant can step, and how quickly their heart rate recovers.
  4. Immediately after the 3-minutes has elapsed, instruct the participant to sit down and find their pulse as quickly as possible. Count heart beats for a full 60 seconds, and record the result.
  5. Input the heart beats counted into this calculator to find your rating. Ratings include Excellent, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Poor and Very Poor.


  • Morrow, J., A. Jackson, J. Disch, and D. Mood. 2011. Measurement and Evaluation in Human Persformance, 4th e. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
  • NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, 3rd. Ed. Human Kinetics

Note: Our calculator is based closely on data we gathered from our book, “NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, 3rd Ed.,” but is not exact. Ratings in the resources may skip several numbers between “above average” and “average” for example. We included every number from 20+ to insure a rating would be given.

Calculator created by Jeff Burmann, NSCA-CPT. Questions? Email Jeff