Cooper Test: Test your physical condition in 12 minutes

Cooper Test: Test your physical condition in 12 minutes

30. 12. 2022 5 min. reading

The Cooper test is an available method for testing your physical condition. How far can you run in 12 minutes and is it possible to train for it at all?

Thanks to the Cooper test, you can find out what level of physical condition you are in. You only need a few basic things for it - quality running shoes, 12 minutes of your time, and a straight line to run on.

History of the Cooper Test

Kenneth H. Cooper came up with this stress test in 1968 and created it for the purposes of the US Army. According to him, it is a practical way to verify the physical fitness of individuals - simple and challenging at the same time. It is accessible to all and designed to test accomplished athletes and also beginners. In addition to runners, the test is also used by swimmers, who have their own special results table. Let's take a look at the running one!

Training for the Cooper test - how to handle it?

Have you decided to try Cooper? If you run, you definitely know your running times. But be careful, don't be mistaken. Running for 12 minutes and maintaining a steady pace is challenging both physically and mentally. But don't worry! We have tips for you that could help you in your preparation and in the test itself:

  • Include interval training - Include interval training in your training routine. Thanks to them, you will have an overview of your times for shorter sections. The example of the training: 2 km easy run - 5x1 km interval - 2 km easy run. Take a break of 3 to 5 minutes between each interval and don't forget the running alphabet before in the beginning. 
  • Run on an athletics track - The best place to run the Cooper test is on a 400m athletics oval. This is a consistent level surface with measured sections and you won't be endangered by rocks, roots, or pedestrians on the road or off-road.
  • Warm up before the performance - It is not good to come to the track and run fast straight away. Start with the running alphabet, a light run, and give yourself time to warm up your joints and muscles.
  • Do not start too fast  - An important point, especially for beginners. Don't  get carried away by the first meters, because 12 minutes is a long time. Try to keep a steady pace and gradually speed up. But for the last two minutes, crush it and leave everything on the track!
  • Maintain a fast and constant pace - For the entire 12 minutes, you should develop the fastest pace that your body will allow, BUT AT THE SAME TIME it must be steady and without cracks , ie no fast sprints or slow walks. We repeat - a calm start is really important.

Top4Running TIP: Running shoes are the basis of success. Choose quality road shoes for Cooper, and if you run on the track, go for running spikes.

Table and Results of Cooper's test

Done? Catch your breath, take a look at the table and see how you are doing!

coopers_test_runningThe source of pic: Wikipedia

Top4Running interesting window: Do you know what the Cooper test record is? The world record for 5 km was run by Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda, who covered the course in 12:35.36. So he ran approximately 4.7 km in 12 minutes.

Cooper's test and VO2Max - How are they related?

Thanks to your distance during the Cooper test, you can calculate your VO2Max value. This value indicates the maximum amount of oxygen consumed during physical activity. It tells a lot about the condition of your circulatory system. The formula is:

VO2max = (running distance – 504,9) / 44.73

You will get your value, which you can then look up in the VO2Max table. Take the results as indicative, the Cooper test is a great method, but it is not as accurate as a stress test in the laboratory.

Benefits of the Cooper test

First of all, it is an indicator of your physical state. Add this test into your running routine and test yourself every few months. Write down the results, thanks to them you can perfectly measure your progress. You will see how you are doing and if you are improving. Thanks to the time you collect, you can make a picture of two important running aspects:

  • Speed - The farther you run, the faster you are.
  • Endurance - Observe how you feel while running. Is it difficult for you to keep pace? Are you still stopping? Then you need to work on endurance.


Is the Cooper test suitable for children?

These twelve minutes are not very popular with children in regular primary schools. Children are graded based on performance and placed on tables, which can stress them out. And this forms an unhealthy relationship with running from an early age. Primarily, children should be taught how to start running properly and healthily, specifically:

Only then could it be time for a running test (either classic 12 minutes or shortened 6), but only as a diversion or voluntary activity. It takes a long way and hard work to run fast. And only if the person wants to go this way.  The joy of movement is what children should be led to in the first place.

The Cooper test is suitable for beginners and advanced runners. Get ready for a long and demanding 12 minutes, but one hundred percent worth it. Good luck with the test and have quick steps!

Equipment for the Cooper test? Of course, we have it!