Arm Curl Test

Discover how to use the Arm Curl Test to assess upper body strength and arm muscle endurance. Download a free PDF and example now.

By Ericka Pingol on Feb 29, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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Understanding upper body strength and functionality

The upper body, consisting of the shoulders, arms, chest, and upper back, is vital in performing various daily tasks and activities. These muscles work together to provide strength and stability, which are crucial for physical functionality.

The arm muscles, specifically the biceps and triceps, generate the force required to lift and carry objects (National Institutes of Health, 2018). Not only do strong arms have visual appeal, but they are also essential for everyday activities like carrying groceries or lifting heavy objects.

Similarly, the chest and back muscles are integral for pushing and pulling tasks. The shoulders also contribute significantly to the full range of motion of the upper body. They provide stability and support during reaching, lifting, or throwing activities.

These physical capacities may naturally decline as we age, making regular physical activity and training programs essential to maintain strength and endurance. Various field tests can be conducted to assess upper body strength and functionality. The tests may differ based on the specific muscle group being evaluated.

Repetitive arm curl exercises, such as bicep curls, are commonly used to improve upper arm strength and muscle endurance. By engaging in regular training programs incorporating these exercises, individuals can see improvements in functional fitness and overall upper body strength.

Printable Arm Curl Test

Download this Arm Curl Test to assess upper body strength and arm muscle endurance.

Assessing upper body strength with the Arm Curl Test

The Arm Curl Test is a simple yet effective way to assess upper body strength and arm muscle endurance. This functional fitness test involves performing a repetitive arm curl exercise while holding weights or body weight.

It's a famous test used in physical education programs and fitness centers to evaluate upper body strength, specifically the endurance of the elbow flexors (Woolstenhulme et al., 2011). During the test, the elbow flexors measured are the biceps brachii and brachialis, responsible for flexing the elbow. The Arm Curl Test is also known as the "curl test" or "arm curl field test."

To perform this test, the patient is asked to sit on a chair or bench with their back supported and feet flat on the floor. They are then instructed to perform as many arm curls as possible in 30 seconds while holding weights or body weight. The number of complete arm curls is recorded, and this score reflects the individual's arm strength.

What does it measure?

The Arm Curl Test evaluates the following fitness aspects:

  • Muscular endurance: The number of arm curls completed in 30 seconds reflects the individual's ability to sustain a repetitive arm curl exercise, indicating their muscular endurance (Vieira et al., 2021).
  • Aerobic component: This test also has a significant aerobic component, requiring sustained movement for 30 seconds. It can be an alternative to traditional stress tests that measure heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Overall upper body strength: The test evaluates arm strength and indicates upper body strength. This is because the arm muscles are heavily involved in carrying groceries or performing tasks requiring upper body strength.

How to use Carepatron's free Arm Curl Test template

Our printable Arm Curl Test worksheet makes evaluating your patients' upper body strength and endurance easy. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Get a copy of the template

Download the Arm Curl Test using this page's link or the Carepatron app. You can also access it from our resources library.

Step 2: Print or use the digital format

Print the worksheet or use it on your device. Both options are available to make it convenient for you.

Step 3: Gather other necessary tools

You will need weights, a body-weight substitute, a timer, a pen or pencil, and the patient's score sheet. Once you have these items, you're ready to start the test.

Step 4: Explain the test to your patient

Make sure your patients understand what they need to do during the test and answer any questions they may have.

Step 5: Begin the test

Ask your patient to start as soon as you start the timer. They should do as many arm curls as possible in 30 seconds while maintaining proper form.

Step 6: Record the number of repetitions

Using the template, record your patient's results and calculate their score. Then, record their age, body weight, and dominant arm.

Step 7: Interpret the results

Compare your patient's score to the reference values provided in the template. This will give you an idea of their upper body strength and overall physical capacities.

Arm Curl Test scoring

The arm curl score is the total number of controlled arm curls performed in 30 seconds. Here are some recommended ranges for this assessment based on age groups (Jones & Rikli, 2002):

Men’s results

Age 60-64:

  • Below 16: Less than average
  • 16 to 22: Average
  • Above 22: Above average

Age 65-69:

  • Below 15: Less than average
  • 15 to 21: Average
  • Above 21: Above average

Age 70-74:

  • Below 14: Less than average
  • 14 to 21: Average
  • Above 21: Above average

Age 75-79:

  • Below 13: Less than average
  • 13 to 19: Average
  • Above 19: Above average

Age 80-84:

  • Below 13: Less than average
  • 13 to 19: Average
  • Above 19: Above average

Age 85-89:

  • Below 11: Less than average
  • 11 to 17: Average
  • Above 17: Above average

Age 90-94:

  • Below 10: Less than average
  • 10 to 14: Average
  • Above 14: Above average

Women's results

Age 60-64:

  • Below 13: Less than average
  • 3 to 19: Average
  • Above 19: Above average

Age 65-69:

  • Below 12: Less than average
  • 12 to 18: Average
  • Above 18: Above average

Age 70-74:

  • Below 12: Less than average
  • 12 to 17: Average
  • Above 17: Above average

Age 75-79:

  • Below 11: Less than average
  • 11 to 17: Average
  • Above 17: Above average

Age 80-84:

  • Below 10: Less than average
  • 10 to 16: Average
  • Above 16: Above average

Age 85-89:

  • Below 10: Less than average
  • 10 to 15: Average
  • Above 15: Above average

Age 90-94:

  • Below 8: Less than average
  • 8 to 13: Average
  • Above 13: Above average

Other tests to assess upper body strength

In addition to the Arm Curl Test, several other tests can be used to assess overall upper body strength. These efficient fitness measurements are as follows:

  • Isokinetic maximal strength test: This efficient fitness measurement specifically targets and assesses arm strength, focusing on the elbow flexors. The test involves the individual performing maximal isokinetic concentric contractions at varying speeds. The results, known as isokinetic maximal strength scores, provide an objective measure of muscle strength in the elbow flexors.
  • Hand grip strength test: This simple test measures the strength of the hand and forearm muscles by having the individual grip a dynamometer with maximum force. The results can assess upper body strength and provide insight into overall health, as grip strength has been linked to cardiovascular health.
  • Stress test: A stress test, also known as an exercise tolerance test, is often used to assess overall fitness and cardiovascular health. However, it can also provide insight into upper body strength by measuring the individual's ability to perform push-ups or pull-ups.

Combined with the Arm Curl Test, these tests can provide a more comprehensive assessment of an individual's upper body strength. It's important to note that these tests are just one aspect of overall fitness and should be used with other measurements to get a complete picture.

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References

Jones, C. J., Rikli, R. E. (2002). Measuring functional fitness of older adults. The Journal on Active Aging, March-April, 24–30.

National Institutes of Health. (2018). Exercise Prescription. In National Center for Biotechnology Information (Ed.), StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536933/

Woolstenhulme, J. G., Conlee, R. K., Drummond, J., Stites, A. W., & Parcell, A. C. (2011). Arm curl field test for older women: Is it a valid predictor of upper body strength? Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(1), 16-20. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b62a94

Vieira, T. M., Carneiro, S. P., Carneiro, A. L., Diefenthaeler, F., Ferreira, F. V., & de Souza, R. A. (2021). Isokinetic Evaluation of Elbow Flexors and Extensors in Rock Climbers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(4), 1538. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041538

When should you use the Arm Curl Test?
When should you use the Arm Curl Test?

Commonly asked questions

When should you use the Arm Curl Test?

The Arm Curl Test is commonly used to assess arm muscle endurance and upper body strength in adults of various age groups. It can also track changes in these areas over time, making it a valuable test for fitness professionals and physical therapists.

What does the Arm Curl Test involve?

The Arm Curl Test involves performing as many repetitions of an arm curl exercise as possible within a set period. The test is typically done for 30 seconds but can also be extended to 60 seconds for individuals with higher levels of fitness or training.

How is the Arm Curl Test performed?

To perform the Arm Curl Test, you will need a chair and a dumbbell or other weight appropriate for your patient's fitness level. The patient sits in the chair with their back straight and feet flat on the ground. They then hold the weight in their dominant hand and perform as many arm curls as possible within the designated period, ensuring their elbow flexors are fully extended at the bottom of each repetition.

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