YMCA 3-Minute Step Test

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


This test measures your cardiovascular fitness level by testing your heart rate recovery after a short submaximal bout of cardio exercise. Generally speaking, the lower your heart rate, the better your level of cardio fitness.

You’ll Need:

1. 12 Inch (30cm) Step or BoxOriginal Step set to height for YMCA 3 Minute Step Test

2. Metronome at 96bpm. Up, Up, Down, Down every beat. Don’t skip a beat or pause. You may switch leading leg at any time.


3. Stopwatch


How To:

  1. Set up your step and be sure it’s 12 inches. We use a traditional aerobic step stacked 4 risers high.
  2. Start the metronome at 96 bpm and get the beat in your head. You can practice a few steps moving to the sound of the metronome “up, up, down, down, etc.” If you decide to practice, be sure to stop and fully recover prior to starting the test to bring your heart rate down as much as possible.
  3. Begin the test and start your timer at the same time as your first step. Continue until you’ve either completed the 3 minutes, or must terminate the test from fatigue. Be sure to stay relaxed, keep upright posture and try not to trip and fall!
  4. When complete, sit and record your heart rate for a full 60 seconds counting every beat. Start this process as soon as possible after the test for accuracy.
  5. Record your number and input it 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.