The Bronco Test – Rugby Fitness & Conditioning

the bronco test

With pre-season fast approaching, everyone is preparing themselves for the pre-season fitness tests (normal the bronco test). Let’s start by noting two major points from our philosophy when it comes to pre-season and testing.

1. Training is testing, and testing is training: The best strength and conditioning coaches are testing all the time, which is why a one-off fitness test is pointless. Coaches should be monitoring physical performance constantly; it allows us to change and adjust the programme to suit the individual.

2. Pre-Season Fitness: Pre-season is not the time to get fit; it is the time to get fitter. Please don’t waste your time in pre-season trying to get fit. During pre-season, you should be merging your tactical and technical skills under fatigue. Don’t be the player at the back struggling to cope with the demands of training.

When it comes to testing, most programmes should have a general physical testing battery that helps coaches determine strengths and weakness. However, as a player, we recommend that you test yourself all the time to understand what is happening.

The testing battery will be designed to cover the following areas and bio-motor abilities:

1. Aerobic capacity and power
2. Anaerobic capacity and power
3. Strength – upper and lower body
4. Acceleration and Speed
5. Body composition

If you want to improve your strength training check out our resource on how to plan your strength training here.

Broncos fitness or 1.2k Tests

This test has become popularised in the last five years in team sports. It is a general running fitness test that has been employed by international and national rugby teams as a way of determining aerobic capacity. This test is significant, from a coaching point of view, as we can understand the level of performance from the worlds best.

What is the bronco test?

It’s a simple test. Place four markers at 0 m, 20 m, 40 m and 60 m.

Run from 0m-60m-0m-40m-0m-20m-0m (total distance of 240m).

That is one rep, you need to complete five reps as fast as possible. Check out the video at the bottom.


1. The test is easy to set up and time yourself.
2. The test can be completed in large groups of varying positions.
3. There is a large pool of data on elite rugby players.
For example:

Richie McCaw, 4m 56 seconds

Andy Ellis 4m 29 seconds

Ryan Crotty 4m 59 seconds

Perry Blake4m 11 seconds 

Beauden Barrett 4m 12 seconds


4. Your score can be used to prescribe training (in theory like all tests).


1. It’s a general aerobic-based test; hence some might argue that specificity for sport might be questioned.
2. Data is highly context-specific. For example, you might be able to complete the test as quickly as an elite player in your position. However, this does not take into consideration that you might 10 kg lighter than that player.
3. Type of surface: there are two schools of thought on this, 1. complete the test on a controllable surface, such as 4G – allowing for the test to carried out several times during the season. Or 2. Complete the test on the ground that you play on – highlighting the fitness of players at that point in time on that surface.

How to improve:

1. Complete the test. Understand your starting point.
2. Set a goal. With your coach, sit down and discuss what you want your time to be.
3. Break the bronco test down. Let’s say that you want to complete the test in under 5 minutes; therefore, each 240-meter run must be completed in under 60 seconds. We have attached a pacing sheet to help with this.

Can you complete one rep in under 60 seconds?

How much recovery do you need to complete another rep in under 60 seconds?

Bronco Test Training Session

Below is an example of a bronco test session to help improve an individual’s test results. This can be used as a great pre-season rugby fitness drill. Note this is an example, not a prescription as everyone is different.


Ensure that you complete a full warm-up before starting the session.

Main Session:

Set one
240-meter run (one rep)
60 secs to complete: rest 60 secs repeat five times.
Rest 3 min

Set two
240-meter run (one rep)
60 secs to complete: rest 60 secs repeat five times.
Rest 3 min

Set three
120-meter run (0m-60m-0m)
30 secs to complete: rest 45 secs repeat five times.

The idea for progression would be to reduce the rest periods in between both the 240 and 120-meter runs. Of course, fitness testing is important, but check out our performance resource on our key message here.


Do you want to know how to improve your breathing during the bronco and improve your performance? Read the resource here or watch the video below.

It’s essential to build a process to give an outcome. There is no point doing pre-season rugby fitness drills without think about it

Let us know how you get on!!

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Drop us an email to book a Performance Discussion here or a DM on IG @theathletetribe


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