Should I do Level 1 or Level 2 Yo-Yo Test?

There are six variations of the yo-yo fitness test (three versions, each with two different levels), each of which focuses on different aspects of physical performance and suiting athletes of different fitness levels. Not sure which test version you did? Then check out our page Which Yo-Yo Test Did You Do?

For the Yo-Yo Intermittent Tests, there are two versions, the endurance or recovery tests, and for each of these there is a Level 1 and Level 2 version. The main difference between level one and level two tests is the starting speeds, as shown in the graph below.

Graph of Yo-Yo Test Speeds Over Time

Comparison of the yo-yo intermittent tests

As you can see on the graph, there is a step-wise increase in speeds for each test. The increase in speed is relatively steady, except for at the beginning and about the 10-13 minute mark for the Intermittent Endurance tests. The main difference between level 1 and level 2 tests is the starting speeds, so that at any given time the athlete would be running at a faster speed if they are doing the level 2 test compared to the level 1 test.

Uses for the Level 1 & 2 Tests

Fitness Levels

The different levels were originally designed for testing athletes at different playing levels (and therefore it was assumed different fitness levels). If the test was too easy then the athlete would continue for a long time, if too hard, the test would be over too quickly. Different levels were required so athletes of different fitness levels could complete the test in a similar time frame, and consequently similar energy systems would be stressed.

Males v Females

Just as the level one and level two tests are used to test groups of different fitness level, similarly it can be used to test males and females. The levels level one test can be used for women, as women generally have a slower maximum running speed and VO2max level, while men do the level 2 test. This method is not widespread, though in the British Columbia Soccer Association fitness test protocol, the level 1 intermittent recovery test is for women players, level 2 for men.

Fitness Components

The choice of yo-yo test levels can determine the contributions of fitness components that are being tested. Generally, the intermittent nature of the yo-yo tests taxes both the aerobic and anaerobic energy system, but the relative contribution of each system will depend on many factors, such as the duration and intensity of the test. Depending on the starting speed and the fitness level and running speed of the athletes being tested, the relative contribution from each energy system will vary.


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