Rise to the Ultimate Fitness Standards Challenge

We’re men. And sometimes, our testosterone-fueled ego won’t allow us to face the harsh reality that we’re just not as good as we think we are. A small few of you are reading this and in agreement with me, while the majority are telling me to stuff it.

Lucky (or maybe unlucky) for you, we’ve got a way for you to prove to yourself, and everyone else, that you’re in peak physical fitness. Can you rise to the challenge that these five Ultimate Fitness Standards provide?

Every branch of the military uses some sort of mile-run to test for physical endurance. But running not only tests endurance, it tests for speed, cardiovascular capacity, and let’s face it, drive. If you can’t push yourself to run faster, at a steady pace, and keep breathing, you aren’t going to hit the ultimate goal of running a mile in just seven minutes. If you can, you’re fast, you’re furious, and you’re well on your way to completing our fitness standards challenge.

There once was a time when crunches were crowned the king of ab exercises, and what many thought was the only way to get a six-pack. That was until people realized that crunches also brought on back pain. Planks on the other hand, not only fire your entire abdomen, but the rest of your core, too. The only problem is that because they do work your entire core, they can be exhausting. The plank will not only test for endurance, but strength, balance, and mental toughness. To perform a plank, lay flat on the floor on your stomach. Then extend your arms as if you were going to get into the push-up position, but keep your arms bent at the elbows, forearms against the floor with your hands together. Point your toes to the floor, and hold that position in place while squeezing and flexing your abs. If you can do this for three minutes, you are another step closer to completing our fitness standards challenge.

Chin-ups are about your upper body strength relative to your body weight. If you’re very heavy, and can still perform ten chin-ups, then you’re a beast. Now, on the other hand, if you’re lean, yet can’t lift your body more than a couple times, or at all, then you better hit the gym more often. Try for ten dead-hang chins—and by dead-hang, we mean lowering yourself all the way down until your arms are fully extended, then pulling yourself all the way back up until your chin is above the bar. We promise you, it’s not easy, but pushing yourself to the limits shouldn’t ever be easy.

This challenge will separate the men from the boys. No exercise is more physically taxing to your muscles and your central nervous system than the deadlift. Deadlifts challenge your strength and raw physical power. And if you can complete one rep of the deadlift equivalent to 1.75 times your own bodyweight, then you’re more of a He-man than Prince Adam will ever be. Try it, but be sure to warm up thoroughly and build up to heavier weights.

We’ve tested your endurance, speed, power, and strength, and now it’s time for the most-neglected aspect of fitness: flexibility. You aren’t truly fit if you aren’t limber enough to touch your toes. For this test, sit on the floor with your legs and feet out straight in front of you, toes pointed up. Now bend forward at your waist reaching for your toes. You have passed the Ultimate Fitness Standard for flexibility if you can more than four inches past your toes, while keeping your legs flat against the ground—no bending at the knee.


How Did You Stack Up?

Did you meet these standards? If so, you’re a god among men. If not, keep a fitness journal of your best times and continue to work toward beating them. As an added incentive, challenge your friends with your scores to see who’s the most fit in your social circle.


Ways to Improve Your Score

1.  Anything under ten minutes is better than average, but who wants to be just average? Train yourself via longer endurance run sessions, 20-30 minutes or more. This will increase your cardiovascular capacity, allowing your body to more efficiently pump oxygen to your muscles. Also practicing in 30 seconds sprints will boost your speed and train the muscles in your legs to perform better. Finally, focus on taking deep breaths timed with each stride. And when you do plan to test your run times, warm up properly first by doing some short ten second sprints or a slow jog.

2.  Practice. Practice. Practice! Working your core muscles will strengthen them and allow you to improve your times. Other exercises can assist your entire body, such as push-ups and the bench press to strengthen your chest, or tricep pushdowns to strengthen your arms.

3.  If you can only do three of these, do five or more sets of three a few times per week. Every other workout, try adding a rep, but decreasing by a set. The volume will stay around the same, but you’ll be working toward reaching your goal of ten dead-hang chins.