Fitness Standards

I recently saw the following on Twitter:

I don’t know what percentage men can do the following, but I know they’re good markers to aim for:

-<7-min mile
-50 push-ups
-15 pull-ups
-Bench bodyweight
-Squat 1.25x bodyweight
-24 inch+ standing vertical jump
-< 5-sec 40-yd dash

If you can do all of these, you’re golden

The first thing that comes to mind is that these criteria are all things that favor small people, because they’re all based on bodyweight, except for the 7 minute mile and the 24+ inch vertical jump which select for tall scrawny people. I’m not concerned with that being unfair (I’m 6′ tall)—life isn’t fair. What actually strikes me about this is that it’s opposite to what most people want for most tasks in the modern world. If you want something carried, you don’t look around for the smallest guy. If you want something pushed, you don’t look around for the smallest guy. If you need something bent, you don’t look around for the smallest guy. About the only time you’d look around for the smallest guy is if you need someone to climb a tree because your snake is up in it and won’t come down.

To be clear, this is not meant as a slight against small guys. They can still do extremely useful things, especially if they’re physically fit, and you’d be a fool to turn down their help if they’re offering it. My only point is that it’s weird that the fitness criteria given is most easily met by the people who have the hardest time doing the tasks one actually wants strong people for in the modern world.

A cynical person might suspect that this is because the person who posted it is a fitness trainer and thus wants to appeal to a broad market—men who don’t weigh much are rare. A cynical person might also suggest that by tying this to body weight rather than absolute measurements (other than the 24+ inch vertical and the race times) it broadens the appeal because everyone (thinks they) can do things measured relative to their own body. And, of course, a cynical person might well be right.

It would be interesting to put together a more realistic set of criteria. I think that they would include things like being able to deadlift at least 300 pounds, overhead press at least 120 pounds, walk a mile on uneven terrain carrying 50 pounds, and do at least 2 pullups. A man who can do those things won’t necessarily impress anyone, and perhaps that was the point of the original, but such a man won’t let anyone down in the modern world.

I’m not suggesting that a man should aim no higher than this—that’s not the purpose of minimums. For example, my best deadlift is 425# and I’m working on improving it. it can be very good to aim higher than the minimum. What I’m really suggesting is that standards should clearly indicate what their goal is. The list of standards at the top of this post would be excellent as the qualification for entering an intermediate class on doing obstacle courses like the ninja warrior competitions.

It probably wouldn’t be bad as a way to ensure that other men wonder why a single man has a hard time getting a girlfriend.

2 thoughts on “Fitness Standards

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