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Why You Should Retake the Presidential Fitness Test from 5th Grade

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Remember those days in gym class when you were forced to run a mile and do as many pushups and sit-ups as possible? It was called the Presidential Fitness Test—and the exercises that made it up may not seem that far behind: Bodyweight and functional training are among the top fitness trends of 2015, according to a recent survey from the American College of Sports Medicine. (Read more about The 10 Biggest Fitness Trends of 2015.) What that means: a return to the “basics” of fitness—the kind of exercises you did in middle school physical education.

And that's kind of refreshing when you consider some of the out-there fitness trends we’ve seen come and—thankfully!—go. What's more, there's a reason people still swear by these basic moves: Lead author of the American College of Sports Medicine survey Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., recently told The Washington Post: “Those exercises that made up the Presidential Fitness Test (which I failed as a child) remain the foundation of effective workouts.” That got us thinking. What’s on that test today—and what kind of a score could we get attempting it as adults?

We found out. Give the below a go to find out if you’re fitter than a fifth grader. Download the spreadsheet to record your data and interpret what your results mean. Let us know how you do in the comments below or on Twitter @Shape_Magazine. Good luck!

Cardio:
1-Mile Run
This one’s easy: Run one-mile as fast as you can.

PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run)
Mark out a 20-meter course (or go to a track) with cones or chalk. Run to the finish—and back—as many times as you can. Here’s the catch: During the first minute, you have 9 seconds to run each 20-meter lap. Then, you get half a second less time do it each minute after that! So, the longer you go, the faster you must run. When you fail, stop.

Walk Test
Walk a mile at a steady, brisk walking pace. After, record your 60-second heart rate count.

Strength:
Pushups
Do as many as you can (lowering until elbows are bent to 90 degrees) until form breaks twice. Form breaks include resting (maintain a steady pace—doing about one pushup every 3 seconds), not lowering to 90 degrees, arching back, or fully extending arms.

Curl-Ups
Complete as many as possible, up to 75. Stop if your form breaks twice (form breaks include head not hitting the mat between reps, heels coming off the mat, or resting between reps.)

Trunk Lift
Lie facedown on the floor with arms by sides and slowly lift upper body off the floor, up to 12 inches. Have a partner use a ruler to measure the distance from floor to chin. Rest, then repeat once more and use the higher number.

*In addition to these three tests, there are two alternatives to the pushup (the modified pull-up, pull-up, and flexed arm hang), and two optional tests (the back-saver sit-and-reach and the shoulder stretch). If you’re interested in those tests, find out more here.

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