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Muscular strength and endurance are one of the health-related physical fitness components (ACSM, 2003). McManis, Baumgartner, & Wuest(2000)mentioned that the level of muscular strength and endurance affects an individual’s ability to perform daily functions and various physical activities throughout the life span. Upper-body strength and endurance are also considered important for performing functional and daily activities as well as preventing injury and osteoporosis.
Because of the importance of upper-body strength and endurance, Engelman & Morrow (1991) pointed out that test developers make continuous efforts to develop different upper-body fitness test and include them in test batteries. So that the physical educators can use muscular fitness test scores to document health related physical fitness. There are many test batteries developed by different associations and available for the physical educators. Most of the include test items designed to measure upper body muscular strength and/or muscular endurance (AAHPERD, 1988; Chrysler Fund-Amateur Athletic Union[CE-AAU], 1987; Institute for Aerobics Research[IAR], 1987; PCPFS, 1987). In most of the test batteries, there will be one upper body muscular fitness test included, but some of them may provide several options for the practitioner, such as, the FITNESSGRAM® health-related physical test battery, which was developed by the CIAR(1999) and is currently endorsed by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance[AAHPERD], provides the following field tests for the practitioners: (a) the traditional pull-up (PU), (b) the modified pull-up (MPU), (c)the 90o push up (PSU), and (d) the flexed-arm hang (FAH). Although the practitioner may choose to use either of the tests, the PSU is recommended.
According to AAHPERD (1988); CF-AAU (1987); PCPFS (1987), PU and FAH are the most commonly used field tests as measurements of upper-body strength and endurance. But, Ross, Pate, Delpy, Gold, and Svilar (1987) argued that MPU and PU are more acceptable field tests for upper-body strength and endurance, because they can provide a better range of scores. Baumgartner, Oh, Chung, Hales (2002); Clemons, Duncan, Blanchard, Gatch, Hollander, Doucet(2004) also pointed out that modified push up test (MPSU) is commonly used to measures upper-body strength and endurance.
Statement of Problem
Many test batteries include one upper-body strength and endurance tests among the 5 tests mentioned before, or provide several options for the practitioners without any explanation.
Zhu (1998) pointed out that if test are used interchangeably, tests must be equivalent. Different tests may involve different muscle groups. According to Pat Manocchia’s Anatomy of exercise: [a trainer’s guide to your workout], PU involves biceps brachii,brachioradialis, latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoid, rhomboid, teres major and trapezius. For PSU, it involves deltoideus, coracobrachialis pectoralis major, pectoralis minor and triceps brachii. So a subject may get a high score in PSU but a low score in PU, because he/she has a very strong pectoralis major.
Sherman & Barfield (2006) pointed out that if tests are not consistent in classification, problems can occur when using test sores to classify whether the subject are in a health fitness zone.
Purpose of Study
The purpose of the study was to examine the interchangeability as well as the consistency of classification between the upper-body strength and endurance tests, including PU, MPU, FAH, PSU and MPSU by assessing the correlation between the test results among them.
Significance of Study
Mahar and Rowe (2008) pointed out that for researches, the aims of fitness test are to (a) determine the association between fitness and other health outcomes, (b) evaluate the effectiveness of training programs designed to increase fitness, and (c) determine the prevalence of adequate levels of fitness in defined population groups. In school settings, fitness tests are used to (a)provide individualized feedback to students about their fitness levels, (b) make recommendations for increasing or maintaining current fitness levels, (c) educate students about physical activity and fitness , and provide information to help determine the effectiveness of physical education programs.
Among the test manuals available for selection, there are five commonly used upper-body strength and endurance tests, which are PU, MPU, FAH, PSU, MPSU. Test manuals usually include one of these tests in their test battery without explanation on the selection. Also the test manuals usually don’t have any detailed information of the test, such as which muscle group will be assessed. FITNESSGRAM®, a test manual currently endorsed by AAPERD, allows the practitioner the option of administering any of the four upper-body strength and endurance tests, without stating their differences.
As fitness test is important for assessing subject’s fitness, hence, a subject should receive the same criterion classification regardless of what test is administered. If the tests can be used interchangeably, they must be equivalent. Misclassification of a subject may lead to an overestimation of appropriate physical activity or a discouragement in participation. Therefore, this study was designed to determine the consistency of classification, and interchangeability of the five commonly used upper-body strength and endurance tests.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
In most of the physical fitness test batteries, they include upper-body strength and endurance test, which implied the importance of upper-body strength and endurance in physical fitness (AAHPERD, 1988; Chrysler Fund-Amateur Athletic Union [CE-AAU], 1987; Institute for Aerobics Research [IAR], 1987; PCPFS, 1987).
Upper-body strength and endurance are important for performing daily functions and various physical activities. A fitness test can assess subject’s physical fitness level and help developing a suitable fitness program for the subject. But if the fitness test can not evaluate or classify the subject’s physical fitness level accurately, it may lead to over or underestimation of the ability of the subject. The present study was to determine the consistency of classification, and interchangeability of the five commonly used upper-body strength and endurance tests.
The review of literature for the present study focused on the following aspects: (a) validity and reliable of the five upper-body strength and endurance tests, (b) equivalence reliability of the tests, (c) summary of literature review.
Validity and reliable of the five upper-body strength and endurance tests
Pate, Burgess, Woods, Ross , Baumgartner (1993) studied the concurrent and construct validity of three common field tests of upper-body muscular strength and endurance including pull-up, flexed arm hang, push-up, Vermont modified pull-up and New York modified pull-up in children aged 9-10 years. The major findings are that the test performances were significantly associated with measures of weight-relative muscular strength, except push-up test, which was correlated significantly with the criterion measure of absolute strength, r(92)= .32, p< .005.
McManis, Baumgartner and Wuest (2000) studied the objectivity and stability reliability of the 90o push-up test for elementary, high school and college-age students. They gave out some recommendations on improving the objectivity and stability reliability of the test, (a) the cadence should not be too slow, (b) elementary students and low-strength college women would be more successful in performing push-ups on their knees, (c) subjects should be required to wear tight, short-sleeved shirt for better judgment on angle of elbows. Baumgartner, Oh, Chung and Hales (2002) also suggested that women and very young individuals should execute push ups on the hands and knees. Besides the clothing, they pointed out that hand placement must be specified in the push-up test protocol.
Romain and Mahar (2001) determined the test-retest reliability and equivalence reliability of the push-up and the modified pull-up tests from both norm-referenced and criterion-referenced frameworks. Sixty-two students aged between 10.5 and 12.3 years were administered the push-up and modified pull-up tests. The criterion-referenced test-retest reliability estimates were high for both tests, but the equivalence reliability estimates were considerably lower between them. Also the criterion-referenced equivalence reliability findings were not acceptable.
Clemons, Duncan, Blanchard, Gatch, Hollander and Doucet (2004) determined the relationships between flexed-arm hang and select measures of muscular fitness, which are absolute strength (1RM lat pull down), relative strength (1Rm/mass) and muscle endurance (repetitions to failure at 70% of the 1RM). Sixty college-age women were studied and the results showed that FAH is a test of weight-relative muscular strength and appears unrelated to absolute strength or muscle endurance.
Equivalence reliability of the tests
Pate, Burgess, Woods, Ross, and Baumgartner (1993) found that the performance on the five field tests(pull-up, flexed arm hang, push-up, VMPU and NYMPU tests) were only moderately intercorrelated. The highest interest correlation was between flexed arm hang and VMPU tests, r(92)=.71, P<.0001, which are the two tests yielding the lowest percentage of zero scores.
Romain and Hahar (2001) were the pionners to study the criterion-referenced equivalence reliability estimate between push-up and modified pull-up tests among young children. They found that the classification agreement between push-up and modified pull-up tests was low. Also they pointed out that because the FITNESSGRAM® allowed the physical activity directors to choose among four tests to measure upper-body strength and endurance, the criterion-referenced equivalence reliability of these tests should be examined.
Sherman and Barfield (2006) studied the equivalence reliability among the four upper-body strength and endurance tests(Push-up, pull-up, modified pull-up and flexed arm hang) in FITNESSGRAM®. 383 children in Grades 3 to 6 were tested over a week. The result showed that the equivalence reliability between PSU and MPU was acceptable for boy, but unacceptable for girls. The classifications for boys aged 10 and 11 regarding the push-up and pull-up tests were not consistent, but they were consistent for girls, except age 11.
Summary of literature review
Upper-body strength and endurance are important for daily functional activities. A valid upper-body strength and endurance can accurately assess and classify subject’s muscular fitness level. This information can help physical educator the develop suitable fitness program for the subject.
The above studies shown that the five field test are valid for measuring weight related strength rather than absolute strength and endurance. Also, for the equivalence reliability among the tests, there is lack of study on college student.
Definition of Terms
The following terms were defined operationally:
Health-related physical fitness
According to American College of Sport Medicine (2003), health-related physical fitness actually has four components: aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility and body composition. Muscular fitness is the strength and endurance of individual’s muscles.
Docherty (1996) stated that the International System of Units (SI) defined strength as the maximal force or torque developed by a muscle, or muscle group, during one maximal voluntary action of unlimited duration at a specified velocity of movement.
Docherty (1996) defined that muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle, or muscle group, to generate force repeatedly or for an extended period of time.
According to AAHPED (1988), Pull up was defined as a person using overhand grip, body completely extended, raise until chin clears bar, then lower to full hang as in starting position.
Flexed arm hang
AAHPED (1988) defined Flexed arm hang as a person using overhand grip and in a position with chin clearing bar, elbows flexed, chest close to bar and hold this position as long as possible.
Chrysler Fund-Amateur Athletic Union (1987) defined push up as a person in prone position, elbows bent, hands flat on floor, thumbs pointing inward and next to chest, then pushes body up until elbows are straightened, while heels, hips, shoulders, and head remain in the same straight line.
Modified pull up
Pate, Ross, Baumgartner (1987)defined it as a person in supine position, the bar adjusted just out of reach of fully extended arms. That person grasps bar with overhand grip, maintaining arms and legs straight, feet together. Then pull up the body with arms so chin clears the bar.
According to Rod et al. (2006), fatigue is defined as the decreased capacity to do work and the reduced efficiency of performance that normally follows a period of activity.
According to the above literatures reviewed, it was hypothesized that:
1. There would be no significant correlation between the
five upper-body strength and endurance test results. And the classification is not consistent.
The purpose of the study was to examine the interchangeability as well as the consistent in classification of the upper-body strength and endurance tests, including PU, MPU, FAH, PSU and MPSU by assessing the correlation between the test results among them. This chapter was divided into the following parts: (a) subjects; (b) procedures; (c) method of analysis; and (d) statistical hypothesis.
This study was targeted to male college students, who were studying in Hong Kong Baptist University and aged between 19 to 25 years old. Subjects will be selected by convenient sampling. Before the study, subjects was asked to sign on the consent forms after knowing the purpose, benefits and risks of the study.
In this study, subjects were invited to perform the five upper-strength and endurance tests in a specific sequence, which is pull-ups, push-ups, modified pull-ups, modified push-ups and flexed arm hang. Test and retest were held on two separate days with in a week. All tests will be conducted in the fitness room of Hong Kong Baptist University or the fitness room of LCSD.
The subjects were strongly advised not to have a heavy meal 2 hours before the sit-up tests. The subjects were invited to do warm up exercises. Warm up exercises included 5 minutes jogging or cycling and then 5 minutes related stretching exercises. After the warm up exercises, subjects were invited to perform the tests.
The description of the pull-ups, push-ups, modified pull-ups and flexed arm hang tests were described by the FITNESSGRAM® (2007):
The subject should start will hanging position an the bar with an overhand grasp. The subject uses the arms to pull the body up until the chin is above the bar and then lowers the body again into the full hanging position. The exercise is repeated as many times as possible. There is no time limit.
The subject should begin with a prone position with hand place under or slightly wider than the shoulder, fingers stretched out, legs straight and slightly apart, and toes tucked under. Then pushes up of the mat with the arms until arms are straight, keeping the kegs and back straight. The subject then lowers the body using the arms until the elbows bend at a 90o angle and the upper arms are parallel to floor. This movement is repeated as many times as possible.
The student grasps the bar with an overhand grip. The pull up begins in this “down” position with arms and legs straight, buttocks off the floor, and only heels touching the floor. The student then pulls up until the chin is above the bar. The subject then lowers the body to the down position. Movement continues in a rhythmic manner.
Flexed Arm Hang
The subject grasps the bar with an overhand grip. With the assistance of one or more spotters, the student raises the body off the floor to a position in which the chin is above the bar, elbows are flexed, and the chest is close to the bar. The position is held as long as possible.
The subject should begin with a prone position with hand place under or slightly wider than the shoulder, fingers stretched out, legs straight and slightly apart, and knees tucked under. Then pushes up of the mat with the arms until arms are straight, keeping the legs and back straight. The subject then lowers the body using the arms until the elbows bend at a 90o angle and the upper arms are parallel to floor. This movement is repeated as many times as possible.
There will be three minutes rest between each test.
The following delimitations were included in this study:
The subjects of the study were delimited to the male students who were studying in Hong Kong Baptist University and aged between 19 to 25 years old.
All the tests were carried at the fitness room of Hong Kong Baptist University or the fitness room of LCSD.
The test and retest were held in separate days within a week.
The following null hypothesis was examined:
1. There would be significant correlation between the five upper-body strength and endurance test results. And the classification is consistent.
Data were reported as mean and standard deviation. Minimum and maximum values of variables were analyzed by the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). Pearson Production Moment Coefficient of Correlation (r) was used to examine the correlation between the 1-min sit-up result with that having fixed frequency and no time limit. An alpha level of p<0.05 indicated statistical significance.
The following limitations were included in this study:
1. The subjects are restricted to the students who can use the fitness room of Hong Kong Baptist University or LCSD.
2. The motivation of the subjects in performing the tests, as all the tests are with no time limit, was uncontrollable. It might affect the results of the study.
3. The performance of the subjects might be affected because of their physical lifestyle and the physical activity level.
4. The performance of the subjects might affected due to their different physical characteristics.
Study findings are applicable only to the subjects included in this study.
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