Have you ever wondered where exactly your fitness stacks up?
You could do a number of things to test your fitness; you could run a sanctioned 5K or unsanctioned marathon (like I did), compete in the CrossFit Games Open, or even find a local powerlifting or weightlifting meet to compete in.
But if you don’t really care about validation amongst your peers, why pay someone to tell you that you are fit? What if you want to test it in a different way?
I think everyone should know where their current fitness stands – by SOME standard. While the standards we are about to cover aren’t for everyone, the main point is to set standards for yourself, set goals and know where you are headed. If you don’t, you will end up like everyone else who has “tried everything” but nothing “works”.
Why you need standards
Having a standard is a little more than just having a goal – it’s accountability. It’s the only way you are truly going to make any progress, or know where you stand.
Standards can be a great motivator, or they can be completely useless…
Why useless? Because if they aren’t for you, made by you…they are useless. YOU need to set your standards for YOU. I am going to give a few recommendations that have worked for me, but that doesn’t mean it will apply to you. If you haven’t answered, “Why am I doing this?” you will constantly find issues with motivation, progress and complacency. I always go back to my three principles for success in any fitness program or nutrition plan:
- KNOW – Know what you want to achieve and be aware of where you currently stand in relation to that goal.
- UNDERSTAND – Understand WHY you want to achieve your goal. Is it for you, or is it for everyone else? A lot of people do not FULLY understand why they want to achieve a goal. You’ll often find “lose weight” or “get stronger” don’t fully answer the ‘why?’.
- CONTROL – After you know what you want and you understand why you want it, you need to control every aspect of your life to achieve it. What in your life needs to change? What resources need to become a part of your daily routine? What tools will you need to be successful?
Alright, that’s standards and goals 101, ready to talk about some good standards to set for yourself?
If getting stronger is a goal of yours, the “Basic Strength Standards” document is a great resource to print off and keep in your gym bag or pinned to the wall of your garage gym.
Really, there aren’t too many resources out there like this one. You can pick a “level” you want to get to by a certain time frame and start working towards that goal.
If you don’t have some sort of number goal tied to strength training, it will become a monotonous process in which one day you may no longer see the point. Heavy lifting is taxing on the brain just as much as it is on the body. If you don’t have a goal to work toward you will start hitting mental walls rather quickly. You may tire of lifting or simply think, for your frame, you just can’t lift much more.
I highly recommend picking a few standards for strength no matter what kind of fitness you pursue i.e. running, cycling, crossfit, etc. Obviously an elite runner will most likely never also achieve an elite back squat, but I would hope they are somewhere near the “intermediate” on the spectrum.
Have some standards! Strength standards, that is.
Minimums of the Military Elite
What about seeing how you stack up against the world’s military elite? Most elite military fitness tests are run, swim and calisthenics heavy so they are pretty easy to test just about anywhere.
Now, don’t get too hung up on these numbers; thinking if you achieve the minimums you are destined to be a Navy SEAL, because 1.) These are the minimums for consideration; most military elite far surpass all minimums and 2.) These numbers are not all inclusive; there are different standards for enlisted vs. officer, additional physical and mental evaluations, etc. Not to mention there are also other physical tests like ruck marches that go into some of these tests as well.
But hey, it’s fun to see where you stand!
|Army Ranger||Navy SEAL||Air Force Special Tactics|
49 in 2:00
|42 in 2:00||45 in 2:00|
|Sit-ups||59 in 2:00||50 in 2:00||60 in 2:00|
|Pull-ups||6||6||8 in 2:00|
|Run||2 miles in 15:12 and
5 miles in 40:00
|1.5 miles in 11:00||3 miles in 24:00|
|Swim||15-meter swim with gear
|500 yards (450 m)
|1500m (with or without fins)
If you want to actually take these tests how they were designed, there are strict standards for work and rest and how to take the test. But it is good just to keep these as a standard as opposed to the actual test. Keep in mind these are for the military elite, there are the basic military standards in each branch of service that are much lower than these requirements – if the above seems too out of reach for you.
How are you holding up so far? Can you back squat at an ‘advanced’ level then run an Air Force ST 3-mile?
Your Own Fitness Bucket List
Maybe you have no interest in strength standards or trying to keep up with the military elite, no worries. In that case, I recommend a fitness bucket list.
The fitness bucket list is not necessarily standards, but it is AWESOME!
A fitness bucket list is a little bit different than saying “I want to lose 10lbs”. If you wanted to tell a bunch of people about something really cool you did in your life, saying, “I lost 10lbs. once”, is not that cool. However, saying, “I lost 10lbs. while training to climb a mountain, and OH YEA, I climbed the freaking mountain” is a lot cooler.
I firmly believe setting your goals as actions is the best way to approach fitness. Then you can plan out how to get it done. Number goals are inevitable and are perfectly fine. Say you want to gain muscle mass, maybe 15lbs. How about instead you set numbers goals of how much weight you want to be able to lift – I guarantee the mass will come with it.
Why set goals this way?
- You will end up meeting any aesthetic goals you had in the process
- You will have fun in the process
What are your standards, or what’s on your fitness bucket list?? Add it to the comments.