- The Bronco test measures anaerobic fitness and involves timed 20, 40, and 60 meter shuttle runs.
- Elite athletes can complete the test in 4-5 minutes, with under 5 minutes considered a very good score.
- Training to improve speed, agility, stamina and technique can help lower your Bronco test time.
- Adequate rest, hydration and nutrition are also key to optimizing Bronco test performance.
- Beginners should aim for under 6 minutes as a good target for the first attempt.
What is the Bronco Test and Why is it Used?
The Bronco test, also known as the Beep test or Multistage fitness test, is a timed exercise assessment used to evaluate an athlete’s anaerobic fitness and capabilities. This field test is commonly used by coaches and trainers across various sports including rugby, soccer, lacrosse, hockey and more to gauge players’ conditioning, speed, agility and cardiovascular endurance.
The test involves timed shuttle runs of increasing distances – starting at 20 meters and building up to 60 meters over the course of the test. Athletes must complete each shuttle or “lap” within the allotted time, which shortens as the distances increase. The objective is to maintain the required speed for as long as possible until exhaustion sets in. The final lap count and completion time are used as measures of performance.
This challenging anaerobic test taxes the glycolytic energy system and provides insight into an athlete’s ability to perform repeated high-intensity sprints with rapid changes of direction. A fast Bronco test time requires optimal muscular power in the legs, core strength, running economy and technique, mental toughness and lactate tolerance.
Coaches and trainers often use Bronco test results to assess current fitness levels in players, identify strengths and weaknesses to target in training, benchmark and track progress over time, and predict on-field game fitness and readiness. Establishing a good Bronco time helps optimize athletic performance, prevent injuries and set fitness goals.
What is Considered a Good Time for the Bronco Test?
For most sports, completing the Bronco test in under 5 minutes is considered an excellent score, reflecting advanced cardiovascular fitness, speed and anaerobic capabilities. Elite professionals can clock times ranging from 4 to 5 minutes.
As per a 2011 study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the average time for male collegiate hockey players was 5 minutes 2 seconds. Elite female lacrosse players averaged 4 minutes 48 seconds in a 2016 study in the same journal. Rugby players generally aim for 4 to 5 minutes.
Scoring under 6 minutes is seen as a good target for recreational athletes and novices. Amateur athletes’ average times range from over 6 minutes for beginners to 5-6 minutes for intermediates. Completing the test itself without having to stop prematurely is also a good first goal for many.
The exact target time will depend on your sport, training level, fitness goals and benchmarks set by your coach. The key is to establish a baseline Bronco time and then progressively improve upon it through training. Even shaving off a few seconds makes a difference competitively.
How Can You Improve Your Bronco Test Time?
Lowering your Bronco test time requires a multifaceted training approach targeting the various athletic components tested. Here are some key strategies:
1. Interval Training
Practicing high-intensity anaerobic intervals similar to the Bronco test demands helps boost speed, lactate threshold and cardiovascular conditioning. Sprints of 20, 40 and 60 meters with brief rest periods will improve shuttle run performance.
2. Speed and Agility Drills
Incorporating ladder drills, cone drills, lateral shuffles and other agility exercises will help build coordination, footwork and ability to change direction quickly. Developing acceleration out of turns is key.
3. Strength Training
Building lower body, core and upper body strength through weight training, resistance bands and bodyweight exercises develops power for sprinting and changing direction. Stronger muscles delay fatigue.
Plyometric jumps, hops and bounds help generate explosive power needed for the intense shuttling. Bounding drills are especially applicable.
5. Running Economy
Improving posture, stride length, arm drive and overall technique makes running more efficient. This enhances speed and delays fatigue.
6. Recovery and Nutrition
Allowing proper rest between intense sessions and refueling with carbohydrates and protein helps maximize adaptations and fitness gains from training.
With a well-structured, periodized training plan targeting these areas, you can dramatically drop your Bronco time and take your fitness to the next level.
How Does the Bronco Test Work?
Understanding the structure and procedures of the Bronco test can help you strategize and mentally prepare to achieve your best time. The test works as follows:
- It takes place on a marked field with cones denoting the 20 meter, 40 meter and 60 meter distances.
- The athlete starts behind the 20 meter line and begins running when they hear the test commence signal, aiming to reach the 20 meter cone before the next beep sounds.
- After touching the 20 meter cone, the athlete turns and runs back to touch the start line before the next beep, completing a 20 meter shuttle.
- Following a brief pause, the athlete then repeats the same back and forth shuttle run to the 40 meter cone.
- This continues with 60 meter shuttles and then reverse back down to 40 and 20 meters.
- Each completed shuttle within the beep interval is counted and recorded as a lap.
- The time between beeps gets progressively shorter, requiring faster running speeds.
- Athletes run until they can no longer reach the cones in time, at which point their test ends.
- The final lap count and completion time are used as the test score.
Maintaining the required speed gets more challenging as lactic acid builds up in the muscles with each successive shuttle. Mental grit and determination to fight through fatigue is essential to maximizing performance.
How to Warm Up and Mentally Prepare for the Bronco Test
Warming up properly and getting into the right mindset before taking the Bronco test can enhance your time significantly. Here are some tips:
1. Do a Dynamic Warm Up
Perform lunges, skips, shuffling, sprints and other active movements that mimic the test demands. Get your heart rate and body temperature up.
2. Practice Shuttle Runs
Complete a few 20-60 meter shuttles at a moderate pace as part of your warm up to familiarize your body with the movement patterns.
3. Activate Your Muscles
Do bodyweight squats, jumping jacks, high knee runs and other drills to activate your leg and core muscles prior to starting the test.
4. Focus on Breathing
Inhale before changing direction, exhale forcefully on the push off. Rhythmic breathing will help you maintain running form and work capacity.
5. Visualize Success
Picture yourself completing the test strongly in your goal time right before starting. Visualization boosts motivation and confidence.
6. Develop Mental Tenacity
Psych yourself up to push hard through discomfort. Generating mental toughness and grit will help you maximize effort.
7. Have a Strategy
Decide on a consistent pace plan thatoptimizes your effort. You may start more conservatively and accelerate later on.
Arriving well-rested, hydrated and fueled, plus completing an effective warm up and getting mentally primed will help you achieve your peak Bronco test performance.
How to Recover After the Bronco Test
Taking steps to properly recover after completing the intense Bronco fitness test can help ensure you sustain or improve upon your times in subsequent tests. Here are some effective recovery tips:
1. Cool Down and Stretch
Gently jogging and walking slowly post-test helps reduce muscle soreness. Follow with static stretches for your legs, hips and core.
2. Refuel with Nutrients
Consuming protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes replenishes glycogen stores and aids muscle repair and growth.
3. Hydrate Properly
Drinking plenty of fluids replaces what’s lost through sweat. Monitor your urine color to assess hydration.
4. Get Adequate Rest
Allow 1-2 full days off from intense training to let your body recuperate after a maximal Bronco effort.
5. Use Compression
Wearing compression tights improves circulation and reduces muscle fatigue.
6. Try a Massage
Sports massage helps relieve muscle tightness and activates blood flow to tense areas. Focus on legs and hips.
7. Take an Ice Bath
Brief cold water immersion constricts blood vessels and reduces inflammation from muscle damage.
8. Address Any Pains
If you experience unusual knee, ankle or hip pains, get assessed by a physical therapist to prevent complications.
Proper rest and recovery will help ensure your body adapts and becomes fitter in preparation for your next Bronco test. Consistently applying these best practices is key.
Sample Bronco Test Training Schedule
Here is a sample 3 day per week Bronco test training plan to improve your speed, agility and conditioning:
- 5-10 minute warm up jog
- 4 x 20 meter sprints – 90 seconds rest between sprints
- Ladder drill circuit x 2
- 3 x 40 meter strides – 2 minutes rest between strides
- Core circuit – plank, crunches, leg raises
- 5-10 minute warm up jog
- 3 x flying 30s (30 seconds all-out sprint) – 2 min rest between sprints
- 10 meter lateral shuffle laps x 6 each direction
- 5 x 20-40-60 meter shuttle intervals – 90 seconds rest between shuttles
- Core circuit – plank, crunches, leg raises
- 5-10 minute warm up jog
- Bounding drill laps x 6
- 4 x 60 meter sprints – 2 minutes rest between sprints
- Agility cone drill circuit x 2
- Core circuit – plank, crunches, leg raises
This allows for aerobic conditioning, speed development, agility, plyometrics and recovery. Tailor and periodize the plan based on your needs.
How to Incorporate Bronco Test Training Into a Season
When programming Bronco test training into an overall season plan, it is optimal to strategically time peak fitness for when performance matters most. Here are some tips:
- Do an initial Bronco test 4-6 weeks before preseason training begins to establish a baseline.
- Build an 8-12 week preseason program focusing on speed, agility, conditioning, technique and strength development through progressive overload.
- Do occasional Bronco tests during preseason to gauge progress and make training adjustments.
- Taper training volume before season but maintain intensity.
- Test Bronco time 1-2 weeks before season starts when fresh. This score reflects improved fitness.
- Maintain fitness during season by replicating test components during warm ups and practices.
- Re-test mid-season to identify any drop-offs needing correction.
- Peak for end of season or playoffs by allowing more rest and maximizing fitness.
With proper periodization and strategic timing of maximal efforts, the Bronco test can accurately measure and ensure optimal game fitness when it matters most.
How Does Age and Gender Impact Bronco Test Performance?
Age and biological sex differences can significantly influence Bronco test times and norms. Here is an overview:
- Children tend to run slower Bronco times on average due to developing coordination and smaller muscles. Under 6 minutes is considered excellent.
- Teens improve dramatically with growth, training and experience. Many can break 5 minutes with practice.
- ** Males** on average run faster Bronco times than females across all ages due to greater muscle mass and power production from testosterone.
- Females tend to plateau earlier as the gender performance gap widens through puberty. Elite female times are around 5 minutes.
- Master athletes over 35+ see gradual declines in anaerobic power and recovery capacity affecting pace and endurance.
- However, conditioning and skill acquisition can offset age declines. Many master athletes maintain impressive sub-6 minute Bronco times with smart training.
While gender and age-based physical differences exist, proper training is key to optimizing your Bronco time regardless of your demographics. Focusing on sound conditioning principles and sport-specific development can help all athletes reach their fitness potential.
Maintaining Motivation and Consistency with Bronco Training
The demanding intensity of Bronco test training can be challenging to sustain day after day. Here are some tips to stay motivated and consistent:
- Set process goals – Focus on proper technique rather than outcome. Achieving smaller goals maintains momentum.
- Track progress – Seeking to beat PRs provides tangible evidence of improvement.
- Vary training – Prevent boredom by incorporating different drills, circuits, intervals, etc.
- Train in groups – Having teammates provides camaraderie, accountability and competition.
- Get coaching – Feedback helps correct errors hindering progress.
- Make it fun – Playing games or challenges helps break up repetitive training.
- Have a training plan – Following a thought-out fitness journey provides structure and purpose.
- Reflect on goals – Keeping the big-picture athletic aspirations in mind fuels drive.
- Monitor recovery – Avoiding burnout through proper rest allows the body to adapt optimally.
Staying positive, disciplined and consistent even on hard training days ultimately helps produce your best Bronco test improvement.
Preparing for the Bronco Test: Review
In summary, here are the key strategies for attaining your best Bronco test performance:
- Comprehensively develop speed, agility, power, technique and conditioning through interval training, plyometrics, strength training and skill drills.
- Periodize and structure your training plan to peak for key fitness benchmarks or competitions.
- Thoroughly warm up and prime yourself mentally before testing.
- Recover optimally afterwards through active cooldowns, refueling, hydrating, resting and addressing muscle pains proactively.
- Benchmark and track progress over time, adjusting your plan as needed.
- Stay consistent, motivated and focused through purposeful, performance-driven training.
With smart, progressive preparation the Bronco test can be an excellent tool for igniting your athletic development to new levels.