Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
January 21 2015

11 Ways to Assess Your True Fitness Level

By Mark Sisson
122 Comments

Time to evaluateI once dated a girl who only went to the gym once a month. She’d do the same workout — a tough, high-intensity circuit using weights, the stationary bike, the stepper, and a few other machines — every single time, and that was it.

When you asked her about it, her reasoning was that if she could do the workout, she was still fit and that was enough for her. Why go to the gym every day if she was already in shape?

While I wouldn’t recommend that methodology myself, one thing she did have right was regularly assessing her fitness level. This is something that most people – even many of the fitness buffs amongst us – don’t do, and I think that’s a real mistake.

With the Challenge underway, I thought we’d explore this topic. Do you have a measuring post to gauge how fit you are? Is there a standard you aspire to reach? To surpass? To maintain?

Let’s look at several ways you can assess your true fitness level.

1. Do the Primal Blueprint Fitness assessment.

This is a simple way to check your capacity for bodyweight fitness. Do the max number of consecutive reps for each Primal Essential Movement. The number of reps you complete in each movement will determine where to begin on that movement’s progression.

If you haven’t already, sign up for the newsletter and get free access to the Primal Blueprint Fitness e-book.

2. Do the CrossFit baseline WOD.

For time, do:

  • 500 meter row
  • 40 bodyweight squats — full depth, hip crease below knee
  • 30 situps — start with shoulders touching the ground
  • 20 pushups — chest to floor
  • 10 pullups — chin above bar, full extension at the bottom

That’s a very reasonable standard. It tests strength, strength-endurance, and the ability to endure a demanding workout. Here’s how CrossFit interprets times (Male/Female):

3:45, 4:40 — Elite
4:30, 5:35 — Pro
5:15, 6:30 — Expert
6:15, 7:30 — Collegiate
7:15, 8:30 — Intermediate
8:15, 9:30 — Novice
9:15, 10:30 — Beginner
10:00, 11:00 — Cut-Off

3. Run a mile.

I talked about this extensively several months ago. The mile run really is a nice barometer for overall, “real-world” endurance fitness. A mile’s about as long as you’ll have to run in an “emergency” nowadays, whether it’s back to your apartment because you forgot your phone or through city streets because it just started pouring all of a sudden. Even if you’ve just defeated the Persian army and need to warn your countrymen that the remaining fighters are heading their way with revenge on their minds, you send a text. You don’t run the 26.2 miles back to tell them in person. If anything, you might run around for a mile’s worth, searching for a signal.

In a recent study, men over 50 who could run the mile in 8 minutes or less had “optimal cardiovascular fitness” and a greatly reduced risk of heart disease. For women, it was 9 minutes.

Any fit person, man or woman, should aim for at least 8 minutes or less. The younger you are, the less time it should take. But the best mark of fitness is that your time improves.

4. Do the maximum aerobic function test.

For regular folks, general trainees and athletes, the mile run is a great barometer of the kind of aerobic fitness they’d need. For more serious endurance athletes, the maximum aerobic function (MAF) test is worthwhile.

Phil Maffetone came up with the MAF, and it’s pretty simple and intuitive. Best for endurance athletes, but anyone interested in their aerobic capacity (which should be everyone, probably) can benefit from taking the test.

  1. Find a fixed course (like a track) and strap on a heart rate monitor.
  2. Start slowly running until you reach 75% of your max heart rate.
  3. Do 8 laps while maintaining that heart rate. Monitor your HR and adjust your speed accordingly to keep it at 75%.
  4. Time yourself.

The MAF also works with cycling, rowing, or any other aerobic pursuit. It’s not strenuous by any means (only 75% of HR), but it is informative. Improving your time on a MAF test means you have become more efficient at low intensity and correlates strongly with an ability to race faster at higher intensities.

5. Consult Mark Rippetoe’s basic strength standards.

The standards take up several full pages, so I won’t list them here. Just take a look at the PDF and see where you fall.

Rippetoe breaks up the strength standards for each lift (overhead press, bench press, squat, deadlift, power clean) into five categories:

  • Untrained — never picked up a weight.
  • Novice — just starting out with strength training.
  • Intermediate — knows his or her way around a weight room.
  • Advanced — very strong, well-versed in the lifts.
  • Elite — really dang strong; probably competes (or should).

For my money, being “intermediate” across the board is probably enough for most people. You’ll be stronger than most people you encounter and you’ll have an above average amount of lean muscle mass. Reaching the intermediate level isn’t too hard, and it doesn’t put in any real danger of injuring yourself. If you go for higher levels, the risk goes up (not to say it isn’t safe).

6. Count how many calories you can burn in a minute on a stationary bike.

Sprinting is important for health and fitness, but not everyone is suited for flat sprints on a track. I wouldn’t exactly ask Grandpa to test his 100 meter dash time, you know?

Cycle sprints are an excellent compromise (that aren’t really even a compromise). They’re hard to do and hard to mess up. As long as you get the angles right, the risk of injury is very low.

Schwinn Airdynes are excellent for this, if you can get a hold of one. A minute of all-out sprinting on one of those beasts is a humbling experience. So go do it, in other words. Can you beat 87 calories?

If you’re on an Airdyne (which works your arms and legs), aim for 40-50 calories in a minute. If you’re on a standard stationary bike, aim for 25-35.

7. See how long you can tread water.

Go find a body of water, either natural or manmade, and get in the deep end. Tread water. Aim for 15 minutes.

  • Don’t float. Floating’s cheating (unless you’re in a life or death situation).
  • Stay in constant motion. Always be treading (say that in Alec Baldwin’s voice from Glengarry Glen Ross when you start to falter for a quick pick me up).
  • Don’t swim.
  • Keep your head above water at all times. Chin dipped a bit? You just swallowed a lethal amoeba that’s worming its way to your cerebellum.

15 minutes of active, unceasing treading is fairly tiring, but it should be doable for most people with enough practice.

8. Get a movement screening.

A popular one is the Functional Movement Screening, or FMS, created by Gray Cook. In an FMS, a screener puts the screened through a series of bodyweight movements designed to identify mobility deficiencies. Poor ankle dorsiflexion? The FMS will find it. Bad thoracic mobility? The FMS will root it out. Unweighted mobility is the foundation of all physical performance, and you’re not at your full fitness potential if there are serious movement deficiencies. You can certainly overcome poor mobility with sheer force for a short while, but it always comes back to bite you.

9. Play a pickup game.

It could be any sport. Basketball, soccer, Ultimate frisbee, football. Just go out to the park and play a game on short notice. Play for 20, 30 minutes, and make sure you’re moving for most of it. Then, observe:

How do you feel after playing? How’d you perform? Were you sucking wind by the end, or could you go for another one? How’d you feel the next day? Sore, stiff, or raring to go? Did you enjoy yourself, or were you just trying to survive?

10. Walk for two hours without feeling it.

Walking is our birthright. It’s how we get around. These hominids were made for walking.

You should be able to walk for two hours straight and hold a conversation.

You should be able to walk and take in the scenery.

You should be able to walk for two hours and then workout (if you wanted to).

My point is simple: a two hour walk shouldn’t feel like exercise. Walking should be pleasurable and leisurely. It’s also transportation, a totally utilitarian pursuit. You shouldn’t get winded getting from here to there.

If I’m walking, I can usually do about three and a half or four miles per hour comfortably. That’s walking pretty briskly, but brisk is easy for me because I hike a lot.

11. Sit on the ground and stand up using just your feet.

Several years ago, a Brazilian doctor found that testing how many limbs his patients used to sit down on the ground and stand back up could predict their risk of early death. The highest possible score —attained if a person sat and stood using only their feet — was 10. For every limb, elbow, knee, hand, or side of the leg a person used to help them get down to the sitting position or stand up from it, a point was subtracted. Half a point was subtracted if a person lost balance. Each point increase was associated with a 21% lower risk of all-cause mortality in the cohort of 51-80 year-olds.

(Note: this doesn’t apply to those jerk toddlers who can easily stand up without using their hands or anything else from seemingly every position.)

How did you do? Try to get to the 9 or 10 range.

There are plenty more ways to assess your fitness, but these are eleven of the best, most comprehensive — and simplest — methods. If you perform well on all eleven, it’s safe to say you’re very fit and are certain to live forever.

Well, maybe not that last part.

So, folks, how did you do? Try at least one of the assessments that you can do immediately and report back your findings.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

122 thoughts on “11 Ways to Assess Your True Fitness Level”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Well, I’m hopelessly hopeless.

    I just don’t know how anyone working 10 hrs a day, yes mostly sitting, then goes home and prepares a fresh, real meal for family, then does household chores (washing clothes, dishes, etc.), then finally has “me” time, maybe a 20 min. tub soak with Epson Salt & Baking Soda, then finally can get to bed to start the whole process over again tomorrow can possibly have the time to exercise everyday.

    Someone or something is being overlooked, forgotten about or pushed aside.

    Me?

    1. Yes!

      I have two kids (8 and 2) and a full time job, and am in the PTA (oh why did I say yes??) I am out of the house from 7:15 to 5:30 every day, and my kids are a lot of work, especially the 2 year old, who doesn’t like to go to bed at a normal hour.

      So in my “ideal” world:
      I go to bed at 9 to 9:30 pm
      Tues/ Thurs I wake up at 4:50 am, go to the gym, swim 45 minutes. Shower, home, eat breakfast (smoothie), leave for work between 7:15 and 7:20.
      MWF (my husband’s gym days): I wake up at 5:30 or 6 am. If the boys are asleep, then I pop in a DVD and work out. If I don’t wake up (often I don’t, because I am catching up on sleep), I may wake up at 6:15 or 6:30. On those days, I do a quick workout in my living room.

      This may be anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes.
      5 minutes: 5 sets of 10 burpees.
      20 minutes: body weight squats (20)-3 sets. Pushups (10) – 3-4 sets. Crunches (30) – 3 sets. Planks (30sec)-3 sets. Maybe dips, bicep curls. Really depends on how much time and energy I have, but the basics are that I have it written down, and I don’t stop. (Squats/pushups/crunches/ squats/pushups/crunches etc.)

      Some days I cannot even do that (sick, sleep deprived).
      Some days I literally do sets of 10 burpees, squats, and pushups while cooking dinner and getting the kids snacks and helping with homework.

      Some days I don’t even do that.

      Most days I make an effort to eat lunch at my desk and go for a 20-30 min walk on my lunch break to clear my head.

      When my husband is traveling, it’s harder.

      Note: he does most of the dishes and all of the laundry. I do the cooking.
      Note #2: My “me time” is getting to the gym 2x a week, and 15 min of reading before bed, not a bath.
      Note #3: if my 2 year old sees me doing pushups or planks, he will crawl on my back and it’s all over.

      I have tried to “collect” a variety of 5 min to 15 minute workouts to squeeze in whenever. It’s better than nothing.

      1. I preach and live by a rule of “anything except nothing”. Even if it is some stretching and push ups before showering, some pull ups on the doorframe pull up bar, a brisk walk with the dog…….make time for something.

        “Something” turns into a habit and soon you feel pretty darn good.

      2. The Primal blueprint is the most approachable easy to do lifestyle program. Everything you use as an excuse can easily be turned into a positive. I have kids.. Play tag at the playground.. Play on the monkey bars, have a nerf gun battle in the house, play just dance on the Wii. Park in the furthest spot and carry your kids (lift heavy things). I’m outta the house.. Use that time to fast or hey try bulletproof coffee or some primal egg coffee the morning. Grab an avocado on lunch break (one of the healthiest thing at a conventional grocer). Align your life with the primal laws. Not easy at first but put in the work and it’s second nature. I work the third shift 9pm-5am. The schedule is rough on my body and sleep schedule but I take the info on MDA and apply it to my life as best as I can. And going to the gym is pointless in my opinion unless it’s a group class. The time it takes to get to the gym and get ready for the gym is time that could be used to workout.. Think about that. Workout while cooking, workout while watching tv. Get creative (primal law..use your brain!).
        A year from now you will wish you started today. Grok on!

      3. Oh how I remember those days. Enjoy them because they don’t last forever.

      4. Personally, I would say stop. Stop trying to overwork yourself. Sleep should be a greater priority than trying to force workout sessions. Unless you are specifically trying to train for something, you don’t need to force specific workouts into every day. You should try to incorporate more movement into your daily routine rather than trying to isolate it from your daily activities which it sounds like you are kind of already trying to do. I would say instead of trying to just do specific workouts, try to find ways to make daily activities more physically demanding and use that as a way to add in some daily “workouts” without needing to add time to accomplish the tasks.

        I saw your post about meals as well. If that’s a concern then it might be worth considering doing real batch cooking and freezing meals for the week or even month.

        1. “Sleep should be a greater priority than trying to force workout sessions.”

          “…incorporate more movement into your daily routine rather than trying to isolate it from your daily activities…”

          Sound advice!

      5. Marcia,
        It took the death of my best friend in her late 30s to make me start insisting on getting exercise in spite of my family…
        Your family loves you and needs you, and therefore SHOULD give you that space – but they won’t. You have to demand it. And not give in!
        I began doing a 15-minute routine of stretches and strength exercises on a mat every morning, just before getting dressed for work. I had to shut my door. I had to yell at both my kids and my spouse when they tried to interrupt me. I had to do it every day, whether I felt like it or not. Because I wanted to live! I wanted to be strong and healthy! And without that, I don’t think I could have made it through 26 years of a professional desk job, with kids.
        Make a plan, and hold to it.

    2. Exercise can be your “me time”. Get up earlier, do a workout on your lunch break, look for time you “waste” in a day back tracking, ask for help with the chores. The first step to “fit it in” is to WANT TO. Then “push aside” sitcoms, “forget about” Reality TV,

    3. Oh and we eat a lot of leftovers. So I may make a fresh “real” meal on the weekend, like chicken.

      And mid-week, it’s reheated chicken and a steamed or roasted vegetable. So it’s little hands-on.

    4. You’re so right! With young kids and a full-time(+) job, trying to find regular time to “exercise” is next to impossible. So forget about “exercise” for now and just try to focus on getting more movement. — Stand and fidget while reading that report at work instead of sitting at the desk. Park in the back of the parking lot and increase the walk into the office. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Set a timer on the computer and take regular movement breaks throughout the day. Sit on the floor instead of the couch at home (you’ll use more muscles holding yourself upright and work harder getting up and down to the floor). Play with the kids outside as much as you can. Bend at the hips (hip hinge), not the knees, every time you bend over to pick up toys or something off the floor — it’s a great stretch and easier on your knees.

      I highly recommend Katy Bowman’s blog (katysays.com) and her latest book, Move Your DNA. You’ll find lots of great suggestions in both for how to add more movement to your day.

      1. I do recall that most of the physio I did after I broke my arm as through house chores! I tried to always carry as many grocery bags as I could in the broken arm, lift all the heavy stuff with it, run upstairs 2 steps at a time on jump movement, do a couple of lifts on the staircase steps when I passed it, cheating city walkways with some parcour shortcuts, jogging and sprinting with the dogs, lifting kids up to lap using a controlled squat movement (to prevent knee and back injury). etc. overall just trying not to make anything easier on my body. Even my shoes are now all 3mm flat soled with no padding, I don’t slow down on climbs, avoid using lifts, auto-walkways, etc. I know it ma take a little thinking and sometimes acting weird in front of others but I believe our health is far more important than all that.

        We simply have to realize that our body throws away everything you don’t use after the age of 20-25. By that age you already had time to reproduce so you can die without any danger to the continuity of the species. If you don’t put stress on your bones, the calcium will be thrown away as it’s just added weight to carry. If you don’t lift heavy cargo, your muscle withers because it’s just extra cells to feed, if you don’t load your ligaments, they’ll thin out because they’re just excess collagen (and others) to maintain, etc. After you had time to breed, your body goes into energy saving mode unless you tell it through your actions that you still need all that gear working properly.

    5. It’s less than ideal of course, but why not do high-intensity, very short bodyweight workouts before your tub soak? Even 10min of intense exercise will do you better than nothing.

      Might not be reasonable, but can you throw in squats sometime during the work day? Only needs to take a minute.

    6. I work in physical therapy, and I’ve heard a lot of reasons from my patients about why they can’t work out or keep up on their home exercise program. I always try to offer suggestions to help. Here are some I use:

      Have kids?
      Give them a chore list so they can help you around the house and ease your burden on housework. Ask friends or family to assist with childcare a few times per week so you can exercise. Make your kids a part of your exercise routine by playing at the park or walking/riding bikes after dinner. Put the kids up for adoption (kidding!).

      Have a spouse?
      Ask them to pitch in more at home so you can have more exercise time. Reward them handsomely. 😉 That counts for additional cardio.

      Live far from work?
      Try to move closer, telecommute, or get a job closer to home. If you can’t do any of that, perhaps public transportation is an option and you can catch up on reading or computer work while someone else deals with the traffic.

      Spend a lot of time cooking?
      One word: Crock-Pot. I do about 80% of my cooking in Crock-Pots (I have two, a 6 and an 8 quart) and it frees up hours every week. Do what meal prep you can on your days off from work. I tend to cook two days per week, Sunday and Wednesday. I eat leftovers from whatever I cook those two days. Stop making separate meals for non-Paleo eaters in your house. Cook one meal and if they don’t like it, they can make their own. Have your kids and/or spouse help with meal prep.

      Drowning in housework?
      Simplify. Get rid of knicknacks and stuff you don’t use. Everything we bring into our home comes with a maintenance need, whether it’s washing, dusting, polishing, or cleaning. Downsize, whether that’s your actual home or your wardrobe that is so large it makes choosing an outfit every day a 20 minute affair.

      Still don’t have enough time?
      No more TV until you’ve exercised (incentive). Park far away in the parking lot at the store. Take the stairs when possible. Do 10 squats every time you go to the bathroom. Do calf raises while you blowdry your hair or leg lifts while you brush your teeth. Have a workout challenge for your favorite TV show (if you watch “The Bachelor”, do 10 sit-ups every time someone cries, 10 jumping jacks when someone says “journey”, and 10 squats when there’s an argument and you’ll be ripped in no time). Learn how to say “no” when people ask you to do things for them that would subtract your exercise time (this is a big one for us women!). Forget the drive to the gym and do bodyweight workouts at home or get a few basic pieces of equipment (my dining room is my gym with free weights, a spin bike, pull-up bar, and a lot of other things), or exercise outside. Get a workout buddy to hold you accountable. Have the kids and spouse get involved.

      The bottom line is that our actions reflect our priorities, and like the old adage says, where there’s a will, there’s a way!

      1. Husbands need to be doing housework, kids need to be doing housework. This is not solely your job. And the idea that a husband should be rewarded handsomely for something he should be doing anyway is baloney. It just reinforces the idea that it’s her job in the first place.

        1. I never said husband, I said spouse. You might want to read more carefully instead of jumping all over someone who is trying to help. My suggestions apply to people of both genders.

        2. Yes Jen you are correct that you used the word spouse. But the reality is that even though women are now in the workforce, they are still doing the majority of the housework and child care. This doesn’t leave time for much else. I think the attitude needs to be that she put herself first, and make expectations clear that she will no longer be doing everything. I’m sorry to make you feel that I was jumping all over you. I am really just addressing the societal expectation that women are responsible for doing it all.

        3. Julie, Sounds like you need to have a conversation with your spouse. It’s 2015 and in our house we have a pretty good division of labor, whether it’s laundry, dishes, outdoor work, trash, etc… It’s not a gender thing. It’s hard to generalize about that these days. Some people may still be living in the 50’s, but it’s time to get over that and move on…

        4. Dave,
          I don’t need to have a conversation with my spouse, I’m no longer married. One of the reasons is we lived a very “primitivist” lifestyle in which I would be up late doing all the cooking, all the dishes, all the watering of the graden, all the picking of the vegetables. He managed to do a lot of stuff that wasn’t beneficial to the family, like reading, playing guitar etc. When I would sit down at the computer to look at blogs or whatever, all I got was flack. Several conversations were had, promises made, but basically all hot air. Since divorcing I now do whatever I want. Quite liberating. I will NEVER be a man’s unappreciated house slave ever again. And I’m not angry, I’ve just learned a lesson. Girls, no one is going to put you first, you have to do that for yourself. And that is the exactly the point I was making. If you go and google women still doing majority of housework, you’ll see the point I’m making. On a societal basis, women are still expected to do all the housework, while men in general come home and do what they want. It’s changing, but slowly. However, this is not a blog about that particular subject, so I’ll let it rest now.

    7. indeed! I have that same thought all the time. A great many of today’s jobs are death sentences! Either you are one of those lucky people who only needs 5-6h sleep a day or you simply don’t have any time to act like a normal human creature.
      Come to think of it it’s a very smart move. Make you have the crappiest health habbits ever, make u sick, make u dependant on meds, orthoics and all the cheatcodes they can come up with to sell to you…very good for the economy! current economy anyway… most people are consumers by nature, we love “collecting/gathering” stuff, so if we didn’t spend in meds and al, we’d spend on outdoor clothers, sport equipment, kayaks, the works… I suppose it’s just fear of changing investments.

    8. Donna, I get how hard it is. I get up at 4:30 to shower, get myself ready, then the boy ready, then we leave to school/work, get home about 530 to make dinner, do laundry, dishes, homework or whatever, then it’s bed time. I try to do what I can during the day, walking here and there, up and down the steps (thankfully I work on the 2nd floor) and I “sit like a frog” while I drink 2 cups of warm water in the morning. (I did #11 today and yay, no help from other body parts)

      It is a difficult thing to invent movement when life is so packed full of life. I am working on the attitude of movement so that I don’t stress out about “not getting enough”…. baby steps. However, shooting hoops with the boy, walking to get the mail, doing squats while I curl my hair (yeah, i have to really be careful with that one), going up to the restroom on the third floor (sometimes sprinting when I have the right shoes on)…..

      Just learn to count the stuff we already do and then add on top of that.

      I’m with you girl, and I’m a little jealous about that 20 minute soak…… by 8 I’m toast so just drawing the bath water seems like mountain moving – plus, I’d probably fall asleep during the fill, LOL

    9. It’s actually based on your goal. If your goal is just health, then force extra movement and exercise into those daily activities. If you’re mostly sitting, find ways to not be JUST sitting. I move around a lot in my chair, re-position using only arm strength, shifting sitting positions regularly to bend more, not because I can’t sit still but because I make a conscious effort not to sit still. Also just getting up periodically and walking around is not a bad idea either. I can still sometimes fall into the trap of being too focused on work and forget to do those movements, it’s just something you have to make an effort to remember to do even if it means setting up a timer to remind you to move. As far as household chores go, you can try to make them more physically challenging to perform as long as that will not have a negative effect on the time they take to perform. Heavier laundry baskets, quicker cleaning, etc. I actually towel mop the floors without resting on my knees as quickly as possible. Then you can just try to pick one or two days in the week to do a focused HIIT workout or just sprints just to get yourself breathing hard and work up a good sweat.

      If your goal is actual training, then there’s no way around the need for making time for that.

    10. I’m with ya, Donna. Our schedules are hectic. I’ve got 3 kids. I coach. I’m a Den Leader. And I’m a business owner.

      The answer for me… I get up early. My alarm goes off at 4:55 AM every day. I’m back at the house after a run at 6:30 latest. I do situps/pushups at some point through the day and I have weights in my office. I’ll actually use them while on a conference call.

      It’s really just priorities and balance. It’s not for everyone. It’s up to you if you want to do it and if it makes you feel good enough to do it.

    11. Don’t get down Donna. My work schedule and family obligations often leave me only time to eat right and sleep right. And that’s a GOOD start! Workout whenever you can. As time goes on you will be able to squeeze in exercise and walks and whatnot. And if not, you still can say that you are doing the absolute best you can at this time. Right!? My example of a “squeeze in” is sometimes eating 2 hard boiled eggs on the way to work with a coffee and when I get my 15-20 minute mirning break I walk the steps. Good luck!

    12. I know EXACTLY what you mean – it’s sooo hard! The only thing I’ve found to work is putting together a morning routine. I’ve never ever been a morning person, but since I put together a routine (literally written it down in my planner) full of stuff I actually want to do – I find I can get up. Finally I feel like my needs are getting met, first thing in the day rather than last (if at all).

      On the days I work out (3 days of the week), I make sure I’m up about 20 minutes beforehand to do deep breathing and visualise what I want to do at the gym, how I want my body to feel and how I want my day to be – before the crazy kicks in.

      Hope that helps!

    13. Donna, you’re all good, we all have the same 24 hours in a day, it’s how we prioritize. I know that work and commute is the majority of your waking hours, but to really maximize all this, try doing some “mental floss” on the drive, meditate, listen to a podcast on a subject you are interested in, not for work, or for the news, but something that you really like…it’s “you” time…
      I also find that a good plan not followed to the “T” is better than no plan followed perfectly…so I will menu plan, and always allow for a few left overs, this way instead of 20 min to an hour every day, from planning, any shopping and prepping, and cook/clean up time…that’s 2-5 hours a week! Plan to do as much as you can during the weekend, chopping veggies, portioning and marinating meats, portioning the dry groceries and spices you may use…it sounds stupid, but it does work…and also, cook off some extra protein, just to have handy, hard boiled eggs, chicken breasts, thawed out ground turkey, anything to use in a pinch…this should help the crunch…

    14. If you’re working ten hours a day AND doing all the cooking and chores, your spouse is an asshole.

  2. I can get up without hands if I can swivel my legs so their sides touch the ground. So that would lower my score to an 8.0, I guess, since 2 legs touch their sides to the ground. I can see something else to try – just swivel one leg and leave the other one with foot on floor and knee raised. I’ll try that. But doing it without turning even one leg to the side – that seems more a problem with imagination rather than strength. Mechanically, how could that be done? I would like to try it if someone will tell me how it’s done.

    1. It took some thinking, but I just did it by crossing my legs with only the sides of my feet touching the ground and then rolling up onto the bottom of my feet while pushing up.

      Pro tip: take the heeled boots off FIRST.

      I’m glad I was able to do that because I don’t consider 10 pull ups to be a reasonable standard at all. Even in the best shape of my life (and a climber!) I’ve only ever gotten to 3.

      1. I’m happy to hear I’m not alone on the pull ups! I worked so hard to be able to do 1 and then I would get terrible elbow pain that would stop me from doing pull-ups for weeks. Then I would start again with the same results. Are there other things we could do instead? I also have fibromyalgia and wonder if that is causing some of my discomfort?

      2. Crossing your feet is a bit of a cheat – it’s MUCH harder to do with your feet together, soles on the ground, but it can only be done if you’ve done enough squatting to open your hips. You can practice by lying on the ground, rolling into a ball, and using your momentum (and abs) to roll yourself up, arms outstretched in front of you. The real challenge for me is sitting down in that foot position without falling backwards.

        And I’m another one in the “best shape of my life but can’t do more than 3-4 pullups on a good day”.

        1. There are several different ways to sit down and get up without using your hands OR crossing your feet, but my question is, WHY would anyone sit down and stand up like this except to show someone in a lab they can?

      3. Maybe inverted pull up rows would be a fair alternative for women?

    2. I squat down with feet apart with arms outstretched so that I don’t put my arms on my knees for support and lower my bum to floor to sit. Stand up same way. I think that’s a 10….?

    3. Uluru on your back with legs bent in toward chest. Simultaneously kick them out and throw your arms forward and use the momentum to put you in squat position and stand up.

    4. Lie on your back with legs bent in toward chest. Simultaneously kick them out and throw your arms forward and use the momentum to put you in squat position and stand up.

  3. I scored 10 on number 11, I’m sure I have a lot of work to do on the rest.

  4. How about if I can do 1200 lbs neg rep on an ARX machine leg press, 320 lbs on the lat pulldown? Love the HIT weight training!

    Doc Jim (who just turned 60.)

  5. Reporting on numbers 10 & 11: I walked for a couple of hours every day we were in the Lake District over the holidays and although I lagged behind the men in the group in speed (I’m a 52 y/o female who keeps fairly active) I did get a bit out of breath, however I was left pretty invigorated by the exercise. That said, I don’t think I would have been up for working out after the walks. Mostly because it was cold and wet, the only post-walk workout I managed was a bit of arm-bending with a glass of wine before the fireplace! I also can sit down on the floor unaided, but I do need a hand to push myself up. I practice planking for 2 minutes, but no way could I ever do 20 push ups or 10 pull ups. I really should do more upper body strengthening. Overall, I’m happy with my fitness level.

  6. #2 Beginner, #5 a Novice. #1 Beginning level assistance on all PEM’s but planks, straight arm so I am intermediate for assistance but time is only 2 reps for 1 min.
    I’m working on it and moving forward. No excuses. Just doing it. Off to do my PEM’s now!

    1. Okay I moved up a level on my PEM’s today! Standard plank, only a minute per rep but I’ll get there. Unassisted squats, woo hoo! Still doing wall pushups but my knee is getting stronger every day or I’ll just have to work up to a standard pushup. Just checked the school gym out, no pull up bar. My guess is when I get home, I’m still a novice. Bright side… I’m doing it!

  7. This should be called 11 tests to make you feel bad, frustrated and turn you off to exercise forever. So much of this is completely dependent on what you are currently in training for and what your inherent and acquired limitations can accommodate.

    Might as well add something I would kill in: “surf overhead waves for two hours and catch a minimum of ten waves”. If you fail to even make it to the lineup it’s obvious you’re not fit at all 😉

    1. Good point. Some of these tests sound very boring.
      I know I’m fit because i slipped on the ice and caught myself without any damage resulting.

      1. Killer. You scored 100% on the Inuit Tundra Kinetic Balance Scale (TM)! You are truly super fit!

    2. “This should be called 11 tests to make you feel bad, frustrated and turn you off to exercise forever.”

      Spot on, Clay! High schools still administer these “fitness tests” that are random and meaningless in the greater context of movement and life.

      Who decided you have to be able to run a mile in x-number of minutes, or do x-number of situps/pull-ups in order to be considered fit? How about doing 50 Sumo Stomps, 50 Double Egyptians, 50 Fellahin Twists? How about 10 minutes of non-stop hoofing, swing dancing, or Bhangra?

      I particularly disagree with the thinking behind the Brazilian sitting/standing test. As kids we used to have competitions doing this sort of thing, but in real life nobody actually stands up using only their feet, just as in real life nobody ties their shoes by hinging forward from the hips with locked knees and a table-top back. Neither of these movements is of any real-life use whatsoever.

      The Japanese have several different ways of sitting/kneeling, and they all involve lowering yourself to the ground and standing up using parts of your body besides your feet — ankles, shins, and knees – but no hands. According to the Brazilian test, someone sitting in and rising from “seiza” (formal knee-sitting) would be docked points for using their knees, tops of feet, and shins. And yet seiza – when performed in the correct sequence — is an incredibly graceful and energy-efficient movement that improves posture, balance, and strength, and promotes deep belly-breathing.

      1. You seem to have missed the whole point of this post, man. I’m sure there are ways to test fitness doing double egyptiains (what ever they are), but they are not a common movement, where as sit-up and pull-ups are. Therefore, they are easily recognised by more people. If someone said test your fitness by doing 50 double egyptains in 2mins (for example) I would move on, thinking wtf are they going on about.

        Also, sure, seiza may be elegant and energy efficient, but this post isn’t about efficiency or elegance. Its about a measure of fitness.

        1. The point of this post is that, eventually, the freshness and unconventionality of primal/paleo/natural movement becomes itself stale and conventional through its obsession with quantifying and measuring everything. What do all these tests actually tell us? Only that we can do X, Y, or Z. Winning a spelling bee doesn’t make you a good writer; winning a geography bee doesn’t make you a good traveller.

          Equating the ability to do a randomly chosen number of press-ups, sit-ups, or double Egyptians with real-world fitness is a stretch. It reminds me of a Hollywood insider’s observation about the film industry: Remember that nobody knows anything.

          #9 (play a game) and #10 (walk for two hours) are excellent activities, as are daily vigorous dancing and physical labour.

          Incidentally, I completed 10 of the Brazilian sitting-standing tests in 32 seconds, which, if anything, measures my elite-level ability to neglect more important things for a full 32 seconds.

    3. It might be useful to “test” fitness – especially for newly active folks to gauge progress, but I agree that it’s not a great system for leading an active lifestyle.

    4. This entire list bums me out, and I usually find a lot of inspiration in Mark’s posts. It pretty much seems like a list of activities for extremely fit people who have an innate love of exercise.

    1. That’s only if you use your body. If you were mentally fit you’ll just levitate. Gotta work on your telekinesis skills. I recommend lightly bending ten spoons three times per week and add one telekinetic sprint session where you make as many vases fly across the room as possible for 30 seconds.

      1. And remember: There is no spoon.

        I figure I’m good to go based on the pick-up sport test. I played wide-out/safety on a flag football team this year, and did a lot of shortish sprints (except my one awesome play where I picked the ball off in one endzone and took it to the other one – I had to lay down a while) during the games. Afterwards, I felt like I could play in another game no problem.
        If only I had been as fit during my high-school rugby days.

  8. So body pump makes feel strong but looking at this stuff, I’m a novice? I get all this but seriously, I exercise often and mix it up but this tests can mislead some people as though what they’re doing is not enough or their maximum they are now is pffft, nothing in terms of fitness level.

    I don’t think that’s what you intended Mark given what an advocate you are but still.

    an 8 minute mile? 10 pull-ups?

    like others, I am an ace at 10 and 11. But the other activities some of them I partake in but nowhere near the levels described above. and chances are, I won’t really achieve many of them.

  9. The thing that really gets me annoyed is the getting up from the ground unaided. I could do it when I was 47, no problem. I have since had four knee surgeries and two back surgeries, including a spinal fusion. I’m almost 62. Is my length of life compromised because of a skiing accident when I was young and a bad fall when I was older (a freak accident)? I chose not to believe that.

    1. I think it’s clear this wouldn’t be an appropriate test for you on those grounds. If someone lost an arm in a car accident, I don’t think their ability to do 10 pull-ups would be particularly useful either (as you have to be extremely strong to do one armed pull-ups!). I’m just saying I don’t think Mark would need to list every caveat to account for every injury 🙂 I hope you’re still able to move to some degree and be as fit as your body allows!

    2. I’ve got a compromised knee myself. It can be frustrating. I do have less chronic pain, which I believe has more to do with what I eat than physical movement. I set my goals to match my skill and accomodate my limitations. Many of the 11 are unrealistic for me. But I like the premise, where are you now, where do you want to be. I know I can improve my fitness level. I start where I start and move forward.

  10. what if you can stand up with 1 foot via the pistol..do you get 11 points? less than 0% chance of early death?

  11. I would also suggest to completing pavel’s Simple & Sinsiter program on time a good measure to evaluate fitness.

  12. Hey Mark,

    Just wanted to make sure you get your facts are straight… The “Crossfit.com” Baseline is really the Andy Petranek, CrossFit LA Baseline. It’s something we developed back in 2006 and then used with the consulting company I formed to teach other affiliates how to run an affiliate (called The Biz). So many people in the community use it and have used it over the years, I can see how/why you (or others) think it is a crossfit.com thing… Just giving you “the REST of the story.”

    Andy

  13. Nope. Not all that fit at all. But I’m much fitter than I was a year ago.

    I’ve got widespread osteoarthritis, have had both my knees replaced, am looking at a shoulder replacement sometime soon, and if they did joint replacement for fingers and toes, I’d be in line for them as well.

    So I do what I can — I can walk a fair bit. I’m good for a mile or 2 right now, I can climb 4 or 5 flights of stairs. I’m not supposed to run (it’s bad for the replacement cartilage). I can’t do pull ups as I can’t raise my left arm enough to reach an overhead bar. Nor can I do push ups –my shoulder won’t support me without complaining loudly.

    I can do squats, seated leg presses, and all the other leg exercises. The arm and shoulder exercises I can do is limited by the bone spurs in my shoulder and the pain that lack of cartilage causes, but I do what I can. Including schlepping 42lb bags of cat litter from the store to the car and the car to the house.

    I’m 65 and a type 2 diabetic. But I’m not going down without a fight. So although my workouts are limited, they still happen (twice a week strength training, 3x cardio and in good weather, a nice walk outside in the fresh air and sunshine).

  14. Just funning you– actually I read the column and need to get lifting heavy things. I walk a few miles everyday (5-6) and run hills 2-3 days a week (sprints) and I can play hoops and touch football all day. I stand up at work all day and my wife rearranges the furniture once a week (it seems) and guess who the moving company is! ME!

    Good article– reminds me I need to do more bodyweight and lifting exercises.

  15. I think the ex-girlfriend was on to something, though. Her level of fitness was satisfactory, for her, and her minimum effective dose to achieve it was a once a month workout.

  16. These seem excessively elaborate, and a little on the intense side for many of them. I mean, really, is it realistic to expect someone to be able to do 10 pullups? The only time I could do that was when I was a gymnast, and that was only on a flexible bar. On a stiff metal bar I could only do 5 consecutively. And I was extremely strong and fit at the time.

    Your argument that any fit person,male or female, should be able to run a mile in less than 8 minutes seems rather arbitrary. If the science says women only require 9-minute miles to indicate cardivascular health, why would you say they should be able to do it in less than 8 minutes? Personally, I’ve never been a good runner. Again, when I was a gymnast and extremely fit, my best time (ever!) was just under 8 minutes. If I’m totally out of shape, it takes me 10-11 minutes. For me, a 9-minute mile indicates pretty good fitness.

    I think a better measure of fitness is can you everyday things? (Eg. Can you walk up three flights of stairs without getting winded?) If you can manage all the tasks of your every day life fairly easily, from lifting to walking to occassional sprinting, you’re probably in decent shape. The only thing on this list like that is the occasional pick-up game, which probably is a decent metric. Maybe the walking too, although 2 hours is kind of a bit much. But maybe I’m just not in good shape. I can do about 1 hour before I get sore afterwards. Although, mostly it’s my feet that can’t take it.

    1. I think it is all perspective to some extent. I am quite happy to run an 8min mile, and can easily to 10 pull-ups, but don’t consider myself particularly fit.

  17. At 58, I have the 4 essential Primal Movements maxed out. I still need my left knee for standing up from a sitting position. Walking miles at a time…piece of cake.
    Guess I’ll try running a mile soon. I sprint once a week, but the long run may be quite the challenge.

  18. Love you, Mark, but a lot of the fitness measurements you listed are skewed for men, who naturally can build substantial upper body strength, relative to their hips/legs. And what about flexibility – the ability to touch toes with straight legs? Palm the floor next to your feet? Balance on one foot with your eyes closed? Balance body weight on hands? Drape a leg over your shoulder? Okay, you probably figured out I’m into yoga…I’m willing to bet an elite athlete by the measures you posted couldn’t begin to get through the Primary Series with any level of competency. Add some caveats to your list, – this list ignores balance and flexibiliy -please!

    1. I agree with Amy–I’m an elite level athlete, and quite a few of these I couldn’t do. I can however hold a 3-3:30 minute handstand, do 20 leg lifts on a stall bar, sit in a split with my front leg raised ten inches, and do weighted tricep dip with 30-40 pounds (which just under a third of my own body weight). I think the point is: the kind of fitness you need depends on what you do, and not everyone is going to do cross-fit, or run a mile…find a baseline for your own athletic pursuits and do that. You’re not a worse person or a less fit person for it.

    2. I completely agree. As a woman I just do not have the capacity for that kind of upper body strength without some seriously intense training (which I’m sure is not necessary for good health and fitness). But I am quite flexible (used to be a gymnast and dancer) and have overall good balance and body control and awareness. I think that counts for something, even if I’m not as fit (strength- or endurance-wise) as I once was.

  19. Wonder how long 500m row is–did the Petranek Crossfit Baseline but without row machine did 10 burpees instead, under 5 minutes, not bad for 50 I think 🙂

  20. Hoo boy. This level of physical performance is not a priority for me, and I do not feel guilty about that at all.

  21. After reading the article I would like to put my 10 cents in. As a personal trainer and youth sports coach I understand the benefits of an appropriate ‘fitness’ test. Before the design and implementation, you first have to understand what you are testing for and WHY.

    Many of the ‘fitness’ tests detailed in this article would not be suitable for some due to a variety of factors including availability of resources and intensity levels. Whilst I agree to some extent that this could have a negative psychological effect on the testee (pause for a snigger) due to failure or thinking they weren’t fit enough. I also believe that clear understanding of why you are testing should be made very clear.

    All Mark has done is made you aware of some tests that are available. If they are not appropriate, find one that will give a true reflection of YOUR fitness. Design your own WOD or AMRAP circuit. Try the Rockport 1 mile walk or the Cooper 12 minute run. Test your grip strength, how many squats can you perform with great technique at 50% 1RM.

    Remember people, fitness is very subjective and relative to who you are being compared to and why. Take away the important part of the article and that is to test! What get’s measured get’s done.

    If you’re not sure what other tests there are, speak to a local fitness professional who will assist you.

  22. Would I get an 11 if I could stand up from a sit on the ground with just one leg?!?

    1. Good question! I just tried doing that. I managed to get into a one-legged squat, but then I couldn’t stand up from there because my leg wasn’t strong enough (although I think I had enough balance to manage it). I think when I was more fit I could have done it (I think I used to do one-legged squats as a gymnast). But I can definitely stand just using both feet and nothing else.

  23. The mile-in-X-minutes is good to know about. I started doing something called the “stressless mile” of alternate walking and running over a mile course without ever going out of breath; right now it’s around 9.30 and if I can get that under 8 minutes it’s a good goal to shoot for.

  24. I’m not buying the keep your face out of the water element of number 7, Mark. That’s the sign of an inexperienced swimmer and leads to early onset of fatigue. It also indicates the swimmer isn’t really comfortable in the water and is more susceptible to panic. Keep your yap shut and breathe out with your nose when submerged. The big jelly sack in your noggin floats good.

  25. Swallowing the Naegleria fowleri (brain eating amoeba) isn’t a problem – getting it up your nose is.

  26. Can I scrounge some points for being able to fall asleep in a full side-split with torso on the floor? After looking at Mark’s list of tests I’m feeling kinda desperate for reassurance that I’m not just a fitness-less blob.

  27. Thanks for this article. I think the best part of the primal lifestyle is the focus on functional fitness. All of the measurements above just seem to make sense for being able to survive in a “primitive” environment. Definitely sharing this article with my tribe.

  28. Regarding #11, if I can set myself the volleyball in the standing position, get down and sit on the floor, then get back up all while keeping control of the ball….that’s basically the same right? 😉

    In all seriousness, a lot of these are interesting and I might pick out a few to try. I was focusing on getting my mile run improved, but running is such a mental thing for me and with the icy roads/trails I’ve been relegated to the treadmill, which is boring and mentally challenging on an entirely new level. I am, however, rarely sore from my circuit training I’ve been doing twice a week (incline push ups, squats, reverse rows, and standing bb presses, 12 reps each, for 20 minutes, rest when you need to). I also play competitive volleyball and since I’ve been eating better I’m not sucking air nearly as much, if at all.

  29. All eleven? It would take a ton of cross-training for that to be even possible. Better to stick with what you know for the assessment. Primal Fitness would be good overall assessment, if that’s easy for you follow with one of the others, and see how you feel. If you can get off the floor after that, you’re doing just fine.

  30. I find the comments about pull-ups and upper body strength for women interesting – and I probably would have said the same things 3+ years ago when I hadn’t done a single pull-up… ever. I can now string together 15 – 20 (kipping… crossfit style pull ups that allow you to use momentum to get up) on a good day. And I’m female, and over 40.

    Reading this list a few years ago I would have looked at each one as a goal that once reached would mean I didn’t have to work as hard anymore, i.e.: only need to do the circuit once a month. Whereas now, with #2 about 5min., a mile run in under 8 min., #5 all advanced – elite, and #11 a 10, I look at all of these as having lots of room for improvement. It’s amazing to me just how far I’ve come in 3 short years and how much further it’s possible to go.

    Start with that first squat, or push-up, or pull-up today and you’ll be amazed looking back on these tests a year from now! I see all of these as just ways to gauge where you are now so that you can continually strive to get better – everybody’s ‘better’ is relative though.

  31. I thought the article was a good one. I can see where some people could get discouraged, but I see it another way. If you are taking the time and effort to train with weights and exercise, some of the above tests would be a decent way to gage you are making progress, and not wasting time.

    1. But what, exactly, are you measuring? If can you do 10 pull-ups in 10 seconds, all it means is that you can do 10 pull-ups in 10 seconds. I’m sitting here trying to relate this to some theoretical real-life situation, and I can’t. Suggestions, anyone?

      1. I bet it would suggest you could easily climb a tall fence or a tree to escape from a crowd of angry wheat farmers with pitchforks…

  32. CrossFit baseline WOD…
    NO 500 meter row…
    3:20 to complete all other exercises properly.
    Not too shabby for a 54 year old guy. Next time I go to the “gym” (which has not been for about 8 months) I’ll do the full workout and see what kind of time I can manage. To clarify the gym thing, I do a strength training session once per week based on the “body by science” protocol. Did a two hour walk yesterday with no ill effects. Usually walk 5 miles a day if time permits, that takes about 1 hr 15 min. I am raring to get on with the run a mile thing when the weather is a whole lot better. Too much snow and ice currently.

  33. According to my ability to do these tests, I think I am close to death. However, I feel good so who knows?

  34. I hadn’t run a mile for time in many moons, but after reading the post I gave it a shot tonight and finished one in 8 minutes. Felt great, and it confirms for me that the PBF program works. Thanks Mark.

  35. These were all do-able until the heartbreak of not getting close to10 pull-ups. So I searched out a Crossfit Baseline WOD. Maybe the guy was cheating, but he did “Chin-Ups” not “Pull-Ups”. Much much easier. This way it’s totally do-able, but I might still have trouble brushing my teeth tonight.

  36. Modified a test for us bigger boned Groks using rest pause techniques. Lifted 300 plus pound rock (Grok had these in his weight room for sure) onto a 55 gallon drum 10 times and took a short stroll with it during deloadings. Good news was I didn’t feel like a truck ran me over the next day, wrists were sore but that can happen with natural stones. Imagine you could do something like this with a near max barbell exercise or max rep sets of body weight exercises. Felt great afterwards, like I could accomplish anything (short of an 8 minute mile that is). I have raised 4 kids and the time constraints have actually been a blessing for my exercise regimen. I have never belonged to a gym, I just pick up heavy things and do so intensely then go back to doing what I have to do and don’t give it another thought until I feel like fresh again. It has also made it necessary to only do the basics. Would most likely never had hit a 600 pound deadlift if I had 10 hours a week to mess around in a fancy gym full of machines. Would have missed a lot fun with the kids too. Grok on!

      1. Thank you for the kind words Sharon, that really made my day. Glad someone besides my neighbors can get a little entertainment out of what I do. The best part undoubtably is having been able to model an active lifestyle to my kids using activities we can engage in together. Thanks again and take care.

  37. I find the cross fit standards kind of dicy, for example:

    – do ten chin-ups where you go to the top, chin above the bar, whilst looking straight ahead (no arching neck to get “over” the bar), and hold for one second, then come down slowly, hold for a second at the bottom with elbows just shy of “locked”, and hold for another second before coming back up slowly and controlled.

    – now try 10 fast chin-ups, using momentum and “spring” – lot easier isn’t it ?

    1. Some people asked about how long to do a 500 meter row. When I rowing in university. Making womens junior varsity rowing team cut off was about 1min.59 seconds, varsity got down below 1:30. Its hard at first and is almost an all out sprint. maintain strokes per minute 20-22 and drag about 120.

  38. Man, I love the FMS and get up/get down tests…use them all the time with my students.

    If training isn’t practical and usable in day-to-day life, why bother!

  39. Thanks for these Mark! I am heading to the gym tomorrow to get started on my set of tests right away. And look forward to sharing this post with my personal training clients.

  40. The thing with assessments is that the person taking them wasn’t part of the research that put them together. For the ultra fitters knowing their capacity is important but for the weekend warrior just finding time to get a little exercise in is an achievement. As some of the posts here say, to feel good is paramount. Running a mile or trying to lift 200lb to a chin bar and failing can be demoralising. Improving your personal best is a great feeling but why compete against others to prove your fitness?

  41. I can tread water for 15 mins with no issues, walk for 2 hours (I walk for one hour 20 every day to get to work!), and, it turns out I can get up off the floor without using my hands.. though my coworkers looked at me oddly and haven’t attempted the challenge.
    Takes me 10 mins to run a mile though, admittedly that’s when running 3- I could probably go faster if I knew I wouldn’t have a few more miles before I got home, will try it if the snow ever melts.

  42. I would add another.

    What is your one minute heart rate recovery after maximum exertion?
    Hopefully, at leats a drop of 30 beats.

  43. So, I get a perfect 10 for being able to sit on the ground and get up again using only my feet but I couldn’t run a mile even if my life depended on it. What does that say about my fitness and chances of longevity??? (kidding, I know it isn’t as simple as that).

  44. Somewhere Mark said “…we wouldn’t want to ask grandpa to do a sprint…”. While I’m not yet a Grandpa, i hv just crossed 75, feel I am reasonably fit but cld be better, and need some benchmarks to guide me. Can anyone, Mark included, help?

    I do my trmill wlaks and open-air walks with the intention of taking HR upto my theoretical max of 125 (220-75=145×0.85=125 approx), and a bit beyond if feel up to it that day. On good days manage 130-135. Now these are theoretical figs, and since one size never fits all, how do I figure out how much further I can push myself when I feel up to it? The publicised theoretical upper limit of 125 is a bit intimidating, and my kids are always screaming I shouldn’t overdo it. There’s a thin dividing line, more so for us geriatrics, between overdoing and underdoing, and in any case one shd always try to relise one’s full potential for keeping fit, grandpa or not. Any way one can assess it?

  45. I couldn’t help read this article and relate to the woman who only went to the gym once a month, but still think its silly. You should be exercising more then to test your fitness level, but rather to keep your body functions working better. The most effective thing I found is to set goals and actually have learn the WHY you’re doing anything. Once you do that it will help you reach any goal you desire.

  46. I have to keep exercising a lot because I get depressed when I don’t.

    If I stop working out for a week, it feels like I’m on my period and I can’t concentrate. Working out really does make things better mentally and physically.