The President’s Challenge Physical Fitness Test Events

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The President’s Challenge Physical Fitness Test Events

  • Curl-ups (or partial curl-ups)

  • Shuttle run

  • Endurance run/walk

  • Pull-ups (or push-ups or flexed-arm hang)

  • V-sit reach (or sit and reach)

Curl-ups (or partial curl-ups)

This event measures abdominal strength and endurance.

Curl-ups test
Have student lie on cushioned, clean surface with knees flexed and feet about 12 inches from buttocks. Partner holds feet. Arms are crossed with hands placed on opposite shoulders and elbows held close to chest. Keeping this arm position, student raises the trunk curling up to touch elbows to thighs and then lowers the back to the floor so that the scapulas (shoulder blades) touch the floor, for one curl-up. To start, a timer calls out the signal "Ready? Go!" and begins timing student for one minute. The student stops on the word "stop."

Curl-ups tip
Instruct helpers to count aloud the number of repetitions.

Curl-ups scoring
"Bouncing" off the floor is not permitted. The curl-up should be counted only if performed correctly.

Partial curl-ups test

Have student lie on cushioned, clean surface with knees flexed and feet about 12 inches from buttocks. Do not hold or anchor the feet. Arms are extended forward with fingers resting on the legs and pointing toward the knees. The student's partner is behind the head with hands cupped under the student's head. The student being tested curls up slowly sliding the fingers up the legs until the fingertips touch the knees, then back down until the head touches the partner's hands. The curl-ups are done to a metronome (or audio tape, clapping, drums) with one complete curl-up every three seconds, and are continued until the student can do no more in rhythm (has not done the last three in rhythm) or has reached the target number for the test.

Partial curl-ups tip
Make sure that the participant's arm is fully extended from the starting position.

Partial curl-ups scoring
Record only those curl-ups done with proper form and in rhythm.

Partial curl-ups rationale
Done slowly with knees bent and feet not held, the partial curl-up is a better indicator of abdominal strength and endurance than the timed curl-ups.

Shuttle Run

This event measures speed, quickness and agility.

Shuttle run testing
Mark two parallel lines 30 feet apart and place two blocks of wood or similar object behind one of the lines. Students start behind opposite line. On the signal "Ready? Go!" the student runs to the blocks, picks one up, runs back to the starting line, places block behind the line, runs back and picks up the second block and runs back across starting line.

Shuttle run tip
Be sure the participants understand the importance of running through the finish line.

Shuttle run scoring
Blocks should not be thrown across the lines. Scores are recorded to the nearest tenth of a second.

Endurance run/walk

This event measures heart/lung endurance.

Endurance run/walk testing
On a safe, one-mile distance, students begin running on the count "Ready? Go!" Walking may be interspersed with running. However, the students should be encouraged to cover the distance in as short a time as possible.

Endurance run/walk tip
Use a large enough running area so that no more than eight laps are necessary to complete a mile. Help participants learn proper pacing for the mile by having them run at the mile pace for short distances during warm-up time.

If you are not using a track that is measured in miles, then you will need to convert from that measurement into miles. Refer to the conversion chart below for converting to miles when using a 400 meter track or 440 yards.

Endurance run/walk scoring
Always review students' health status before administering this test. Give students ample instruction on how to pace themselves. Allow them to practice running this distance against time, as well as sufficient time for warming up and cooling down before and after the test. Times are recorded in minutes and seconds.

Alternative distances for younger children are 1/4 mile for 6-7 years old, and 1/2 mile for 8-9 years old. The same objective and testing procedure are used as with the mile run.

Conversion for Miles

On a 400 meter track

1 mile = 4 laps + 9 meters
3/4 mile = 3 laps + 6.75 meters
1/2 mile = 2 laps + 4.5 meters
1/4 mile = 1 lap + 2.25 meters


On a 440 yard track
1 mile = 4 laps
3/4 mile = 3 laps
1/2 mile = 2 laps
1/4 mile = 1 lap

Pull-ups (or right angle push-ups or flexed-arm hang)

This event measures upper body strength and endurance.

Pull-ups testing
Student hangs from a horizontal bar at a height the student can hang from with arms fully extended and feet free from floor, using either an overhand grasp (palms facing away from body) or underhand grip (palms facing toward body). Small students may be lifted to starting position. Student raises body until chin clears the bar and then lowers body to full-hang starting position. Student performs as many correct pull-ups as possible.

Pull-ups tip
Spend as little time hanging from the bar beforehand as possible, the extra time on the bar may reduce the number of pull-ups performed. Discourage any kicking of the legs or swinging of the body as this may also decrease the number of repetitions.

Pull-ups scoring

Pull-ups should be done in a smooth rather than jerky motion. Kicking or bending the legs is not permitted and the body must not swing during the movement.

Right angle push-ups testing
The student lies face down on the mat in push-up position with hands under shoulders, fingers straight, and legs straight, parallel, and slightly apart, with the toes supporting the feet. The student straightens the arms, keeping the back and knees straight, then lowers the body until there is a 90-degree angle at the elbows, with the upper arms parallel to the floor. A partner holds her / his hand at the point of the 90-degree angle so that the student being tested goes down only until her / his shoulder touches the partner's hand, then back up. The push-ups are done to a metronome (or audio tape, clapping, drums) with one complete push-up every three seconds, and are continued until the student can do no more in rhythm (has not done the last three in rhythm) or has reached the target number for the PPFA.

Right angle push-ups tip
As with the pull-up, spend as little time in the starting position beforehand in order to increase the number of repetitions. Any extra movement may also decrease the number of repetitions.

Right angle push-ups scoring
Record only those push-ups done with proper form and in rhythm.

Right angle push-ups rationale
The student's body weight has less effect on right angle push-ups than it does on pull-ups. This makes right angle push-ups a better indicator of the range of strength and endurance found in students, whereas many are unable to do any pull-ups. Pull-ups remain an option for students at higher levels of strength and endurance.

Flexed-arm hang testing

Using either an overhand grasp (palms facing away from body) or underhand grip (palms facing toward body), student assumes flexed-arm hang position with chin clearing the bar. Students may be lifted to this position. Student holds this position as long as possible.

Flexed-arm hang tip
Rather than doing a pull-up to start, lift the participant to the starting position. This decreases any extra exertion and may possibly increase the length of time.

Flexed-arm hang scoring
Chest should be held close to bar with legs hanging straight. Timing is stopped when student's chin touches or falls below the bar.

V-sit reach (or sit and reach)

This event measures flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings.

V-sit testing
Mark a straight line two feet long on the floor as the baseline. Draw a measuring line perpendicular to the midpoint of the baseline extending two feet on each side and marked off in half-inches. The point where the baseline and measuring line intersect is the "0" point. Student removes shoes and sits on floor with measuring line between legs and soles of feet placed immediately behind baseline, heels 8-12" apart. Student clasps thumbs so that hands are together, palms down and places them on measuring line. With the legs held flat by a partner, student slowly reaches forward as far as possible, keeping fingers on baseline and feet flexed. After three practice tries, the student holds the fourth reach for three seconds while that distance is recorded.

V-sit tip
Participants are most flexible after a warm-up run. Best results may occur immediately after performing the endurance run.

V-sit rules

Legs must remain straight with soles of feet held perpendicular to the floor (feet flexed). Students should be encouraged to reach slowly rather than "bounce" while stretching. Scores, recorded to the nearest half inch, are read as plus scores for reaches beyond baseline, minus scores for reaches behind baseline.

Sit and reach testing
A specially constructed box (see below) with a measuring scale marked in centimeters, with 23 centimeters at the level of the feet. Student removes shoes and sits on floor with knees fully extended, feet shoulder-width apart and soles of the feet held flat against the end of the box. With hands on top of each other, palms down, and legs held flat, student reaches along the measuring line as far as possible. After three practice reaches, the fourth reach is held while the distance is recorded.

Sit and reach tip
Participants are most flexible after a warm-up run. Best results may occur immediately after performing the endurance run.

Sit and reach rules
Legs must remain straight, soles of feet against box and fingertips of both hands should reach evenly along measuring line. Scores are recorded to the nearest centimeter.

Constructing the Sit and Reach Box

1. Using any sturdy wood or comparable material (3/4" plywood is recommended), cut the following pieces:

  • 2 pieces - 12" x 12"

  • 2 pieces - 12" x 10"

  • 1 piece - 12" x 21"

2. Assemble the pieces using nails or screws and wood glue.

3. Inscribe the top panel with 1 centimeter gradations. It is crucial that the 23 centimeter line be exactly in line with the vertical plane against which the subject's feet will be placed.

4. Cover the apparatus with two coats of polyurethane sealer or shellac.

5. For convenience, you can make a handle by cutting a 1" x 3" hole in the top panel.

6. The measuring scale should extend from 9 cm to 50 cm.

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