In this article, we look in detail at one of the most practiced field tests, both at an individual level and for team players, where there are constant, intermittent changes of speed: the Yo-Yo Test.
What is the yo-yo test?
This test is a field test that aims to measure the aerobic capacity of athletes.
Also known as an Intermittent Recovery Test.
What is it for?
The Yo-Yo Test measures the aerobic capacity of athletes, i.e. it is used to estimate the maximal oxygen uptake parameter. (VO2max.).
Aerobic capacity, (aerobic power) is the maximum rate of energy production of an athlete by oxidation of energy sources, and is expressed as the volume of oxygen consumed per kilogram of body weight per minute ( ml/kg/min).
Although the most accurate measure of Maximum Oxygen Consumption is a stress test using gas analysis, not all teams and/or coaches have the equipment and skills to perform this test.
This test is widely used in team sports such as football or rugby, as it closely resembles the specificity of the sport.
What does the yo-yo test measure?
As I said, it’s used to measure the parameter of maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max.).
This can be improved through specific training such as speed sets, and even practicing the Yo-Yo test itself as an exercise: The higher volume of maximum oxygen consumption, the better the performance.
This therefore contributes to improving the second ventilatory threshold (VT2), also known as the anaerobic threshold.
This improvement will allow the athlete to reach higher intensities and for longer, without reaching the state of metabolic instability. In trained athletes, this threshold is usually around 70-90 % of maximum oxygen consumption.
How do you do the yo-yo test?
This Intermittent Recovery test is performed by running between two points, separated by a distance of 20 metres.
- The test starts with a sound signal, a beep, from which the athlete must run to the other end.
- The rhyme increases as time and intensity levels pass.
- The test ends when the athlete fails to complete the distance between one beep and another twice.
To do this field test, you need cones and visual signs to mark the distances and start/turnaround lines.
You also need a specific audio program for the test, (you can find this onSpotify, Youtube), as well as a means of playing the sounds in a perfectly audible manner.
The test should be carried out on a firm, non-slippery ground to avoid falls during turns.
Athletes should complete a warm-up before the test.
- The test starts with the athletes on the start line, waiting for the first beep.
- When they hear the signal, they run to the other end (20 metres) and turn around, waiting for the second sound before they head back to the starting line again.
- There, they run a distance of 5 metres at a gentle pace in active recovery mode, and return to the starting point again before the next audible signal.
- This repeats over, with the speed increasing (or the time between the sound signals reducing).
- The test ends when the athlete twice fails to maintain the required rhythm.
- Once the test has finished, the last level and the total number of 2 x 20 metre intervals finished at that level are recorded.
Intermittent recovery test levels
- LEVEL 1: this is for beginners.
In this mode of the Yo-Yo test, you start at a speed of 8 km/h (you have 9 seconds to cover the regulation distance of 20 metres).
- LEVEL 2: This time, the starting speed is 11 km/h.
However, there are different variants of the Yo-Yo Test.
We have the following:
- Endurance Test: the one most frequently used to analyse maximal oxygen consumption and is 20-metre out-and-back sprints.
- Intermittent Endurance Test : unlike the previous one, pauses of 5 seconds are made every 20 metres.
- Intermittent Recovery Test: this one is commonly used to measure aerobic performance in football.
The test is performed as usual, but the rest is performed actively (running at low intensity in a 5-metre recovery zone).
This way, the athlete’s ability to recover between efforts can also be measured.
YOYO Test: Evaluation Table
|Elite||> 1280||> 16.5||> 800||> 15.1|
|Excellent||1000 – 1280||15.6 – 16.5||720 – 800||14.7 – 15.1|
|Good||720 – 1000||14.7 – 15.6||480 – 720||14.1 – 14.7|
|Average||480 – 720||14.1 – 14.7||360 – 480||13.2 – 14.1|
|Below average||280 – 480||12.3 – 14,1||160 – 360||11.2 – 13.2|
|Very poor||< 280||< 12.3||< 160||< 11.2|
Which sports train with the Yo-Yo Test?
This type of field test, such as the Multi-Stage Fitness Test and/or Yo-Yo tests, are widely used in team sports where the characteristics of the game are similar to these tests: with accelerations, sprints, dribbles, changes of direction, etc.
Such as Football, Rugby and Basketball.
Referees and the Yo-Yo Test
While the playing demands and physical capabilities of a football, rugby or basketball team are measured by such aerobic capacity tests, we can’t forget the role of referees on the field of play either.
In Spain, as of January 2019, the Yo-Yo or Intermittent Recovery test was introduced into the evaluation of football referees.
According to FIFA, among the aerobic endurance tests we find a speed tests with 40 metre sets and an endurance test consisting of a set of 75 metres running and 25 metres walking, or the 2000 metres sprint test.
As of 2019, this second test can be substituted for the Yo-Yo Test.
In Spain, referees in the First and Second Divisions must complete the test at a level of 18.2.
- Bangsbo, Jens & Iaia, F. & Krustrup, Peter. (2008). The Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test: A Useful Tool for Evaluation of Physical Performance in Intermittent Sports. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.). 38. 37-51.
- G. Gregory Haff; N. Travis Tripplet. “Principios del Entrenaminto de la Fuerza y del Acondicionamiento Físico”, 2018, Editorial Paidotribo . Capítulo 13.
- We tell you how football referees prepare physically. Visit this link.
- What is the VO2 MAX and what is it for? We tell you here.