Cooper Test: What It Is, Benefits And Standards

The Cooper test is a physical endurance test that evaluates the distance someone can run in 12 minutes.
The Cooper test, a 12-minute fitness test, was created for the US army.

The Cooper test is a method that, among other interesting aspects, offers the possibility of discovering the physical performance of sportspeople, especially athletes.

As we are going to explain in this article, it is a test that has been used for more than 50 years and started in the US army. 

What is the Cooper test and what is it used for? How do you do this test? Read this article to find this out, and how to measure the results you obtain in the test. 

What is the Cooper test?

The Cooper test consists of an endurance test useful to measure the physical performance of an athlete, allowing them to discover what their physical condition is and to increase their endurance. 

It was designed by a colonel and doctor called Kenneth H. Cooper (commonly known as Ken Cooper) -where the name of the test comes from- in 1968, used exclusively for the US army, where it was used to measure the performance of the members in the American armed forces. To sum up, it was used to assess the physical condition of the soldiers. 

However, its easy application and effectivity in the measurement of the results have made it one of the most used tests to measure the aerobic performance and the physical condition and endurance of sportspeople, especially athletes. 

How to do this test

Doing the Cooper test is very straightforward, but before starting with it, you should know that you must be dressed in a suitable way, this is, with running clothes (comfortable sports clothes and shoes).

You also need a kind of watch or chronometer to keep track of the minutes we have to do the test. So you should set the timer for 12 minutes. 

Then, if we take into account that the goal is to measure which is the physical condition of the person doing the test, the athlete has to run on a flat surface for 12 minutes, at a constant speed without stopping. It is important not to stop and to run as much distance as possible during this period of time.  

Once we have done it the first time, it is recommended to do it regularly. This will allow us to find out whether we have improved our physical performance -for instance, twice or once a month, or every two months. 

It is essential to try and do the test always in the same conditions and, if possible, in the same flat surface. 

The Cooper test is used to assess the physical condition of adults and teenagers.

Cooper test benefits

As it is a test to know the physical performance of the athlete, as well as easy to practice it, the Cooper test offers interesting advantages and benefits, such as the following:

  • Anyone can do it, especially all kind of sportspeople. 
  • It allows us to know what our aerobic capacity and performance is, this means, which is our physical condition when doing it. 
  • Estimate our maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) using the following formula: V02max=(22 x km)-11.
  • Design and adapt the training plan accordingly.

Although nowadays there are more effective ways of measuring the physical performance of an athlete, there is no doubt that the Cooper test is unique because it is easy to do, mainly because of its simplicity, which means that any person (whether they are professional athletes or not) can do it. 

Cooper test standards

We have to keep in mind that the mark obtained is established in a total of four variables, divided by the person's gender, their age, the time and the distance run

So, depending on the age, gender and especially the distance the person has run, the mark will be:

  • Very good;

  • Good;

  • Average;

  • Bad;

  • Very bad

In the following lines, we show you the Cooper test results tables for men and women depending on the distance run in 12 minutes. 

The Cooper test is an endurance test useful in the athletics context.

Cooper test standard results for men

Men younger than 30 years old

  • Very good: more than 2800 m

  • Good: 2400-2800 m

  • Average: 2200-2400 m

  • Bad: 1600-2200 m

  • Very bad: less than 1600 m

Men from 30 to 39 years old

  • Very good: more than 2700 m

  • Good: 2300-2700 m

  • Average: 2000-2300 m

  • Bad: 1500-2000 m

  • Very bad: less than 1500 m

Men from 40 to 49 years old

  • Very good: more than 2500 m

  • Good: 2100-2500 m

  • Average: 1700-2100 m

  • Bad: 1400-1700 m

  • Very bad: less than 1400 m


Men older than 50 years old

  • Very good: more than 2400 m

  • Good: 2000-2400 m

  • Average: 1600-2000 m

  • Bad: 1300-1600 m

  • Very bad: less than 1300 m

Cooper test standard results for women

Women younger than 30 years old

  • Very good: more than 2700 m

  • Good: 2200-2700 m

  • Average: 1800-2200 m

  • Bad: 1500-1800 m

  • Very bad: less than 1500 m

Women from 30 to 39 years old

  • Very good: more than 2500 m

  • Good: 2000-2500 m

  • Average: 1700-2000 m

  • Bad: 1400-1700 m

  • Very bad: less than 1400 m

Women from 40 to 49 years old

  • Very good: más de 2300 m

  • Good: 1900-2300 m

  • Average: 1500-1900 m

  • Bad: 1200-1500 m

  • Very bad: less than 1200 m

Women older than 50 years old

  • Very good: more than 2200 m

  • Good: 1700-2200 m

  • Average: 1400-1700 m

  • Bad: 1100-1400 m

  • Very bad: less than 1100 m



Cooper, K. H. (1968). A means of assessing maximal oxygen intake. Correlation between field and treadmill testing. JAMA, 203(3): 201-204. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140030033008.

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