Modern Fitness Standards: How Do You Measure Up?

(This is the third part of a four part series on fitness. Part 1: What Does it Mean to Be Fit?, Part 2: Could You Save Your Own Life?)

Organizations whose members are expected to engage in physical activity as an essential aspect of affiliation – the various branches of the military, law enforcement agencies, fitness methodologies like CrossFit – necessarily impose standardized fitness benchmarks, minimum requirements which every prospective member must satisfy. When a significant portion of your professional identity is predicated upon your ability to catch (or kill) bad guys (bad guys, mind you, whose primary objective is to avoid capture), you’ve got to be able to run, jump, support your own body weight, and adequately perform all the other physical activities that might come up in a day’s work. The various fitness standards are an attempt to ensure candidates are up to par in their respective areas.

They vary wildly, of course. Different jobs call for different levels of competency. Also, certain organizations, like the Army, are always looking for new recruits, so their standards aren’t quite as rigorous when compared to the Navy SEALs’ standards. There’s a high demand for entrance into the SEALs, and they do their best to dissuade casual applicants; while it would certainly be nice if the Army were populated entirely by SEALs, it isn’t realistic. Thus, the Army has “relaxed” standards.

I wonder, though, if any of these benchmarks are suitable for the general public. Should the average adult be fit enough to become, say, a police officer? A marine? A SEAL? Let’s take a look at a few.

The Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification requires prospective Utah County police offers to complete the following:

  • 1.5 mile run in 15:37
  • 16 reps of consecutive pushups with no rest
  • 15 inch vertical jump
  • 25 sit-ups in a minute
  • 300 meter run in 70 seconds

No pull-ups? Pretty mild standards, if you ask me, but I’m probably biased. I bet many of you could pass that test without breaking much of a sweat. Still, a fair amount of “average” adults probably could not. And anyway, that’s the just the first test. If you barely pass that, police academy should whip you into shape.

The Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test (PFT) is tougher and must be performed once a year, so you can’t exactly slack off with it. There’s also a Combat Fitness Test (CFT) to be completed, which is geared towards functional battlefield fitness. Males receive five points for every pull-up, one point for every crunch, and one point is deducted from 100 for every 10 seconds slower than 18 minutes on the three mile run. Females receive 1.5 points for every second on the flexed arm hang (maximum 70 seconds), while the scoring is the same for crunches and the three mile run (although they get 21 minutes for the run). To earn a perfect PFT score of 300, males must do 20 consecutive pull-ups, 100 crunches in less than two minutes, and complete the three mile run in at least 18 minutes. For females, it’s 70 seconds on the flexed arm hang, 100 crunches, and 21 minutes. Bare minimums, though? A male can get by with just a few pull-ups, 50 crunches, and a 28 minute run time; a female can get by with 15 seconds on the hang, 44 crunches, and a 30 minute run time.

The SEALs require even more general fitness competency, and that’s just for the initial Physical Screening Test (PST). The numbers listed are absolute minimums, with the understanding that they are to be exceeded. A guy who just barely hits the minimums will have technically passed, but there’s no way he realistically makes it further.

  • 500 meter swim using breast stroke or a modified freestyle (called Combat sidestroke) in 12:30, competitive time of under 10:30
  • 42 push-ups in two minutes, competitive count of at least 79
  • 50 sit-ups in two minutes, competitive count of at least 79
  • 6 consecutive dead hang pull-ups, competitive count of at least 11
  • 1.5 mile run in “boots and trousers”in under 11:30, competitive time of under 10:20

Once you pass the PST, there’s an additional three-phase, 27-week long training course that really weeds ‘em out.

How about firefighters? Of all the official standardized fitness tests for service personnel, I like the physical ability test in the Basic Firefighter Certification most. Different states have different requirements, but they’re generally more strenuous than the law enforcement and military tests (save for the SEALs and other special forces). Take the Seattle Fire Department’s Candidate Physical Ability Test. Applicants must wear long pants, a safety helmet, gloves, and a 50 pound weighted vest while completing the following in consecutive order with very little rest in between exercises:

  • Stair climb – while carrying two additional 12.5 pound shoulder weights, candidates must climb a stairmaster at level three (50 steps per minute) for 20 seconds, then three minutes at level four (60 steps per minute)
  • Hose drag – placing the 1.5 inch nozzle over their shoulder, they must drag a 200 foot hose past a barrel 75 feet distant, make a 90 degree turn and pull the hose 25 more feet; then, pull the hose hand over hand for fifty feet
  • Equipment carry – carry two heavy power saws 75 feet to a marker and back
  • Ladder raise and extension – flat raise a 24 foot aluminum extension ladder, hand over hand, until it’s standing; extend a 24 foot ladder hand over hand, then lower it in a controlled motion
  • Forcible entry – strike the “Forcible Entry Cumulative Force Measure Device” with a horizontal swing of a ten pound sledgehammer without rest for several minutes
  • Search – blind, crawl through a tunnel maze and maneuver around, under, and over various obstacles to emerge from the exit
  • Rescue – pull a 165 pound dummy for 35 feet, then turn around and return to the starting position
  • Ceiling breach and pull – use a six foot pole to push up a weighted, 60 pound section of ceiling three times, then hook the pole to a weighted ceiling resistance device and pull down five times; repeat this sequence for four sets

What I like about this test (beyond just the weighted vests and general intensity) is that it’s entirely functional, and not just for firefighters. These are activities that anyone would find useful – dragging someone to safety, climbing stairs with extra weight on one’s shoulders, crawling blind through tunnels, dragging heavy objects, raising a ladder. You could probably drop your gym workouts and do nothing but this test a few times a week, and you’d be in fantastic shape.

Then there are the sports-specific standards. A decathlete is expected to show aptitude in ten track and field events: 100 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meter dash, 110 meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin, 1500 meter run. Sprinting, jumping, leaping, endurance, power, strength – you can’t get much more balanced than that.

Football and basketball draft combines attempt to grade athletes based on standardized physical tests and drills.

Football players must complete:

  • 40 yard dash for time
  • 20 yard short shuttle run (twice) for time
  • Vertical jump
  • 225 lb bench press, maximum reps

Basketball players must complete:

  • No step vertical jump
  • Maximum vertical jump (step allowed)
  • 185 lb bench press, maximum reps
  • 3/4 court sprint

There are different expected scores for different positions, weights, and heights, of course, but both combine drill sets attempt to quantify and measure the type of activities (jumping, sprinting, pushing) players will make on the court.

And then there are the benchmarks of pure fitness methodologies, like CrossFit. CrossFit is interesting in that it ordains no strict, precise, objective benchmarks. They don’t tell their members to hit a certain weight on the squat, or a minimum time on the rower. Instead, they preach general proficiency in all areas of fitness: “cardiorespiratory endurance, strength, stamina, flexibility, coordination, agility, balance, accuracy, power, and speed.” Athletes are free to set their own personal benchmarks, whether it be completing a strict bodyweight overhead press, or rowing 2000 meters in under seven minutes. They are encouraged to complete the scheduled workout of the day (WOD), though, which allows athletes to compete against each other (or themselves).

For my money, this is the way to do it, especially compared to the way military and law enforcement test their recruits. CrossFit (and other similar fitness methodologies) is constantly evolving, and its athletes evolve along with it. There’s always that drive to best your personal benchmarks, to improve and to grow. Typical fitness tests, on the other hand, are usually one-shot deals; a police recruit could conceivably train just enough to pass the entrance exam, only to go to pot once he’s embedded in the force and comfortable with his place (funnily enough, CrossFit is hugely popular with police, military, and firefighters).

Now, I think CrossFit is on the right track, but it’s not for everyone. The overall, well-rounded approach to fitness is generally superior, though, (for most people’s purposes, which do not include dunking on a ten foot hoop or catching a touchdown pass) to the sport-specific training. Does the average person need to be able to complete the WOD in record time? No, absolutely not, but he or she should be able to squat down to pick up their kids, pull themselves up into a tree (using their feet, if need be) to climb around, go for a quick run with the dog, lift a heavy suitcase overhead, walk up several flights of stairs without breathing hard, and swim without sinking.

Or, as legendary strongman Earle Liederman once wrote, there are five fitness benchmarks that any man (or woman, with some modifications; Liederman wrote this in the not entirely enlightened 1920s) possessing adequate fitness should be able to do:

“Every man should be able to save his own life. He should be able to swim far enough, run fast and long enough to save his life in case of emergency and necessity. He also should be able to chin himself a reasonable number of times, as well as to dip a number of times, and he should be able to jump a reasonable height and distance.” (Liederman, Endurance)

Which works out to, at the very least:

  • 1/2 mile swim
  • 200 yard run, at full sprint speed
  • Ability to jump over waist-high objects
  • 15-20+ pull-ups
  • 25+ dips

These are basic life skills that everyone, for the most part (age, injury, fitness level, and illness all play a role in determining things, of course – but they are good benchmarks to shoot for), should be able to perform. When you’re able to traverse your environment (vertically and horizontally), manipulate your weight, and lift things overhead without excessive effort, you’re suddenly able to enjoy life a bit more easily. You go on a long hike and, rather than sucking wind and cursing your decision to embark on the journey, you’re instead able to appreciate the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. Life shouldn’t be hard work unless you make it so. Everyday activities shouldn’t be struggles. Basic fitness should be like breathing – it should be second nature.

What do you folks think? Are there fitness absolutes? Is it enough to perform basic activities without struggling with your own body, or should Primal fitness standards reach for something more?

Additional resources:

Mark Rippetoe’s barbell strength standards – a very helpful guide for charting your progress on the major barbell lifts.

The U.S. Army, Kyle T. Ramirez, Wigstruck, amber in norfolk Flickr Photos (CC)

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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72 thoughts on “Modern Fitness Standards: How Do You Measure Up?”

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  1. Great post Mark! One omission though is that fitness standards change throughout the lifespan. You’ve even mentioned this yourself in discussing how, as you age, you’ve been transitioning more and more into body-weight exercises to maintain your physical condition rather than lifting a lot of heavy things in the gym to build muscle. Also, when I was in middle school, it was a requirement that all children, especially the boys, learn how to dodge a ball hurled at you from a kid on the opposing dodge ball team. Let’s not forget the ontogenetic niche! 🙂

  2. No wonder fire fighters look the way they do, that is such a strenuous test! I think cross-fit is a great example of what should be considered primal fitness standards, because it involves varied workouts that use the entire body in concise workouts. My sister-in-law is a cross-fit trainer, and my brother is in the army…they’re both buff 🙂

  3. Very cool post Mark! Doing one on Primal jobs would be interesting as well!

  4. I think a better comparison would have been comparing the regular Navy recruit with a Navy SEAL or an Army recruit with a Green Beret. I understand what you were getting at, but it could start a war between Army and Navy (and since the football game is this weekend, we ought to be careful)

    1. I agree…I’m an Army vet and my competitive nature started scowling as I read..however.. I do use CrossFit as my primary mode of fitness and it is great.

  5. OK – would love to hear more about Crossfit…is it on-line, free, how does it work?
    Also, 15 push ups? Dang, that’s brutal , but I’m on board with the rest.
    Thank you for another great read and inspiration.

    1. yes, it is online

      Check it out. There are links on the left that describe some of the philosophy and plenty of videos examples of different movements and techniques.

    2. Beth,

      I have perused the site many times, but am not a true Crossfitter. It is free, and offers many videos, a workout of the day, and a great forum with search function.

      You can pay for things such as a newsletter, various certification seminars, and you will likely eventually want to spend some money for various workout equipment.

      Perhaps someone more familiar with the program could chime in to elaborate or correct any errors.

    3. Yep just checkout they post daily workouts for everyone to try,time etc.

      You can modify them for your won workouts incase you can’t do 3 sets of 21 chinups or pushups 🙂

    4. Hi Beth! I’ve been doing CrossFit since earlier this year; dabbling from Feb. through March, took an intro class at a local affiliate at the end of March. Signed up for the 2-week ‘ramp-up’ course (to learn movements and get into the swing of things, in general) in early April and went fully on board in May. Personally, the classes I attend include a warm-up, some stretching, usually strength or ‘skill’ work and practice, then a full workout – all this in an hour, the workout can be as long as a half hour but that’s really rare, can be as short as 3 minutes but that’s also uncommon. I’d say most fall between 6-14 minutes. technically has ALL the info you might need, although it’s a little awkward to find at first. The main page will have the workouts posted – one per day for three days straight, one day of rest, that’s the schedule they use. The top post is the most recent and would be that day’s workout. Completely free to use if you like.
      There are lots of videos linked in that can show you how to do particular movements or lifts if you don’t already know them, the forum is FULL of great people, including coaches who can help and often do, there’s lots of activity there.

      If the main page workout looks way too intimidating (it often is!!) on the left side there’s a spot marked “Start Here”. If you hold your mouse over there, there’s a little menu which will show “BrandX Scaled Workouts” – it will take you to another forum where they list options for scaling the workouts to a reachable level. The top post for that day will have the current workout, within the next couple of replies (usually first) they’ll show the scaling. Start low until you know how your body can handle things, better to ease in than jump both feet first. 😉

      The FAQ on the site is rather in-depth and is worth a re-read after a couple of days, and another re-read in a couple of weeks, easily.
      In the forums under “Starting” there’s a sticky’d post at the top: “New to the Forum?” that has answers to most early questions.

  6. I like this post a lot, Mark. I think your views might even be evolving as you write them. What I like most is the conclusion – “Life shouldn’t be hard work unless you make it so. Everyday activities shouldn’t be struggles.” Rather than a rigorous absolute or a checklist of benchmarks, that statement’s a good, practical goal for all of us. Like your best writing you express fundamental principles in a clear, commonsense way. I think there are certainly higher levels of Primal fitness to which we should all aspire, but the concluding paragraph really sounds like a well reasoned statement for the bare minimum level of competent fitness.

    I also like that you’re now making allowance for “age, injury, fitness level, and illness.”

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go work on my pull ups.

  7. Not to rag on the police (they protect me and I respect them for that), but is it just my city or are a large proportion of them very out of shape? I’m not talking a little soft, but like full on overweight. Some of the ones I see, there is just no way they could do even 10 push ups. It seriously worries me that their lack of physical fitness will negatively impact performance during a call of duty.

    Tonight I’m going to the gym to see if there is even a pull-up bar that is accessible to 5’2″ moi. Otherwise, will need to consider investing in one for the apartment.

    1. Maria the police are just a reflection of society as a whole. Once they are out of the academy most don’t have to take fitness tests anymore.

      Use a chair or stool if necessary to reach the pull up bar. Negatives (using the chair to get your chin above the bar and lowering yourself slowly) are a great way to start if you can’t do many (or any) pull ups. Many gyms have weight assisted pull up stations that function in a similar way. Your goal is to eventually not need the weight assistance to pull yourself up.

      1. i figured that they would have some sort of fitness test yearly. Thanks for the heads up.

    2. Those numbers are to get into candidate school. I wonder if there are yearly requirements, but i think i have the same issue here in Virginia. Any luck with the pullups?

      1. I had a late night at work and ended up skipping the gym. Did some “suitcase” lifts and push-ups at home instead.
        I do recall seeing the assisted pull-up machine, so perhaps I’ll start with that. I’m actually very curious to see if I can even do a regular pull-up anymore, sigh.

        I figured the police do not have annual fitness exams, given how unfit so many of them are. But it is an unsettling thought nonetheless.

    1. Not a true SEAL, those numbers are to start SEAL training. The guys who finish can do a LOT more.

  8. I think fitness applies to whatever type of job you have. People who are fit are sick less often and are generally more effective workers. Many companies are giving incentives to be fit. It ranges from cheaper health plans to being able to get paid for unused sick leave.

  9. i just cranked out a 4:46 half IM and those firefighters make me feel like a sissy.

  10. Good post Mark. I think it’s kind of cool how you brought up the SEALs up front and ended with CrossFit. When I was stationed in Bahrain a few years ago I found out about CrossFit from the SEALs and EOD folks there, and from CrossFit I started delving further into the Paleo Diet and found MDA. Nice circle there.

    For Beth, check out The workout-of-the-day (WOD) is free and posted online daily. It may be useful to check out a local CrossFit gym to get started, but not entirely necessary – I started with nothing but a pullup bar, a barbell, and the main site workouts and increased my fitness more in a couple of months than in years of previous work. Check the FAQ and exercise videos for explanations of anything you don’t already know.

    Geoff mentioned scalability and I think this is a big deal. A lot of people get scared away from CrossFit because of some of the weights or pullups or whatever, but to quote Greg Glassman (CF’s founder): “The needs of Olympic athletes and grandmothers vary by degree, not kind.” Lifting things, pushing, pulling, etc. are part of all of our daily lives and that is what CrossFit is training – the ability to move throughout your daily life as efficiently as possible.

  11. I’ve worked on my fitness for the past several years through the different P90 type programs. I have fared pretty well with them. However, it wasn’t until I started changing to a primal diet that I started to see some real results and definition. I also started doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the beginning of this year and it has proven great for cardio, flexibility, and body weight exercise. Thanks to the rules of no hand or leg strikes, one can focus on applying good technique and leverage. In a way, I feel that it is “primal exercise”. How many millennia have we have always had a competitive spirit of ground sports with our friends and commonly our brothers and sisters growing up? For the past couple of months, I stopped doing a lot of the P90X exercises (except for stretching and yoga) and yet I still feel that I have great conditioning and endurance. I’ve even gotten my resting heartrate down to between 45-55 bpm. Thank you Mark for a great blog.

  12. @Mike: I completely agree with your little tangent on BJJ, I’m a practicer for several years and it has done wonders for my fitness.

  13. Utah must have old or fat donut eating cops.

    When I was doing entry level testing, the baseline was much higher.

  14. Excellent post, Mark – especially coming from a Crossfit enthusiast! I have been an avid runner, biker and gym addict for 17+ years. I consider myself in tip-top shape but am constantly looking for the next challenge to tackle.

    Enter Crossfit….

    By definition, CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program based on broadly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity. What was missing from my routine was just that, the desired INTENSITY. I have never felt so strong in just a matter of a couple months of CF.

    You hit the nail on the head with this one, thanks so much.

  15. Funny that you should post this. I can’t run at the moment because of an injury, so I was going to work on acing the SEAL test (unoficially).

  16. Good post…although a realistic competitive SEAL screening test (for officers anyways) is:

    * 500 meter swim time of under 9:45
    – five minute rest
    * 110+ push-ups in two minutes
    – two minutes rest
    * 100+ sit-ups in two minutes
    – two minute rest
    * 15 consecutive dead hang pull-ups
    – five minute rest
    * 1.5 mile run in under 10 minutes

  17. This is perfect timing for this post. We did our Navy PRT today. My scores:

    111 situps
    92 pushups
    9:12 on the 1.5 mile run.

    I wish we had pullups. We don’t even have swimming as a regular part; it’s the Navy!

  18. Thank you everyone for your great advice and encouragement. I’m going to add Crossfit (scaled down!) to my life, nothing like a good challenge.

    I’m off to hop off a chair so I can levitate through my first pullup…

  19. “and swim without sinking.” For some reason, that struck me as really funny! But, yeah, that’s kind of the minimum level of swimming proficiency (and the most valuable in daily life).

  20. It takes a lot of functional fitness to shovel two feet of snow off of your driveway! I got a second workout in today doing that!

  21. Comparing the entire Army against the most elite part of the Navy??? You’re killing me, Mark! As a Ranger (who are actually pretty avid CrossFitters), I’m offended!

    Haha, great post though.

  22. More on this topic would be great. It’s something I’ve pondered long and hard. I figure using the right method to aim for a representative paleo fitness standard will probably also lead to an optimal “activity” stimulus regarding the goal of physical health and longevity- with adequate precautions and care regarding rest, recovery and risk management to prevent injuries.

  23. On the main Crossfit website there is a “Start Here” option which points to Crossfit BrandX. A great bunch of people. They take the main site WOD and scale it to various levels. I’ve been following this regime for 6 months. It’s awesome. Start today !!!

  24. @MariaNYC If the pullup bars are too high, get someone to help you up to them. At my school’s gym the only pullup bars are exceedingly high, so I sometimes have to lift my shorter friends up to them. Looks awkward but it works!

    For Crossfit, scale the weights, not the number of reps or time if it is an “as many rounds as possible in X minutes” type workout. It’s not about how fast you finish, the only thing that matters is finishing.

  25. Awesome post. I did a 3:54 “Fran” yesterday. I can’t believe there are still people out there who haven’t heard of Crossfit. I took a similar route as a previous commenter. I am a cop and was out of shape until I found Crossfit. Then I found Paleo and MDA. Now I kind follow a hybrid of Crossfit/Paleo and the Primal Blueprint. Maybe Mark could tell me how to make the most of Crossfit without going too far away from the PB. Most of my workouts would fall into the too stessfull catagory.

  26. I’ve been reading Body By Science by John Litte and David McGuff and now I question the idea of general fitness. Crossfit has the right idea. To be fit at a lot of different activities you have to spend some time on each activity separately exceeding your capacity to do it. Running doesn’t transfer to hiking, hiking doesn’t transfer to skiing, skiing doesn’t transfer to rowing etc, rowing doesn’t transfer to swimming, swimming doesnt’ tranfer to cycling etc, etc.

  27. as a police officer for nearly 20 years, fitness is not a priority as it is in the fire service and this is a shame. Fire fighters have a much more physical job, much of police work is “mental” (problem solving is the main component) however there is always a possibility one will have to “save your own life” or the life of a complete stranger for that matter. I believe fitness is a must, not just for life saving purposes, but to ensure employees are healthy, productive and happy.

    We all should be “self sufficeint” no matter what our job. We should be stong enough, able enough and have enough know-how to get by day to day without depending on others (like the government). When thinking about fitness, I use the example of, could you forage for food? Could you hike, climb, run and jump to catch game or gather plants. If not, you are not fit.

  28. The Marine PFT scores part isn’t entirely true. Yes, those are the minimum scores for each event. But in order to receive a passing PFT score, you have to do significantly better than the minimum on at least one or two of the events.

  29. Very handy post — love the examples — can’t wait to print this out and give them a shot. Although, I’m missing a lot of the required equipment re the firefighters.

  30. CrossFit Seattle has defined four levels of fitness from ‘Well Rounded Beginner’ to ‘Elite Athlete’. Each level sets requirements for a long list of exercises. CrossFit does not actually impose requirements – it’s just a nice tool to see how you stack up.

    You can read about skill levels here:

  31. A few years ago Men’s Fitness had an article on what it means to be a fit man. Here was the criteria:

    Bench Press 1.5 times your body weight
    Run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes
    Squat 2 times your body weight
    Swim 700 meters in 10 minutes
    Complete 40 consecutive push-ups
    Sprint 300 meters in under 1 minute

    1. That’s a bit outrageous, don’t you think? 1.5 times your own bodyweight? I know plenty of people that are fit but can not bench their bodyweight. And 2X bodyweight squat? You have to admit that you have to be not only fit but pretty stacked as well to do those two things to their standards.

  32. Speaking of push ups… go to and they have a program that will work you up to a hundred. I just started… I did enough on my baseline so that I’m starting at week 3. So in 4 more weeks I should be able to do a hundred.
    They have a couple of other strength related programs as well (200 squats etc).

  33. Great Post!! I am a Firefighter/Paramedic. I actually take part in the CPAT every year with no problems and pass well under the time permitted. I am also a true believer in crossfit and attend 2-3 days a week. It will be fun trying some of the other career physical fitness endeavors.

  34. I think that for most people there should be some standards, to push their bodies to grow. Our bodies are meant to flourish and to take on new tasks, that’s what real fitness is about, not becoming stagnant, but finding the line and getting past it to the other side.

  35. It’s good to use these fitness standards as a motivating guide to help push toward improved “personal best” scores. I like how you showed police, military and firefighters. Maybe in a different post you could show Army Special Forces, FBI Hostage Rescue Team, and US Border Patrol…or some variation thereof. Great site, I’m sure I’ll be back again!

  36. 2nd time you have used the same pic of me 🙂 hehehe. If you need more CF pics, I have tons 🙂 Love the site by the way, I use tons of it for my gym blog!

  37. Hey All stars! I am as slow as a mule running, and strong as a very young human vertebrae. But I love this article! I can hope one day to be like you people.

  38. I do not fall into any of those categories but to stay fit, I run 4 miles daily in 35 mins but I do not benchmark with whatever standards because I like to enjoy when I run. And I have been working out for more than a decade. Anyway this is a good article.

  39. Just a note that the standard for wildland firefighters is the “pack test”: Walking three miles with a 45-pound pack in 45 minutes. Pass/fail.

    Details and a training regimine here:

    Might be a fun primal workout, though having had to do it involuntarily, I’m not sure I’d do it by choice! YMMV

  40. A very interesting page and glad I found it 🙂 you should however take a look at Royal Marine entry standards, they are harder than the SEAL’s entry standards.

  41. Nice Mark! I’d like to add that the firefighter CPAT is required to be completed in under 10 minutes and it’s not successfully completed just by finishing the various events. Makes it even harder!

  42. Good post, Mark. That SEAL test seems grueling, obviously not what the average person would need to do for regular life. (or have time for) I think cardio is the main thing you want to be sure you work, especially since many cardio workouts do also work your overall body muscles to at least some degree. I do hikes, while stopping at points in the hike and doing a few pushups or other bodyweight exercises here and there.

  43. I remember doing the police testing a while back and watching a girl completely fail at making it over a fence that was just above her waist. It was pathetic. Even worse is that the standards you are to be tested on are public, and you are supposed to be able run this obstacle course several times. Meaning, it was expected that could hop over the fence easily!

  44. This was very informative and I liked seeing how I match up. I think all and all I would do pretty well. Maybe not with the run in trousers and boots but over all I think I could do a lot of those fitness tests.

  45. Those last few sentences in bold summed it up for me:

    Life shouldn’t be hard work unless you make it so. Everyday activities shouldn’t be struggles. Basic fitness should be like breathing – it should be second nature.

  46. I realize this is an old blog and I’m late to the draw in commenting, but fitness is a very subjective term. I do agree with the primal factor listed in your article, but as far as those (weak) military (particularly Army) standards you refer to? Well coming from someone who retired from the Army, I must tell you that physical fitness is a very personally driven subject. I’ve trained Sildiers for years and not one is the same. Some have harder drives than others. Those weak military standards you refer to are simply a baseline for each Department. The real standards come into play during competitor events and permanent party functions. The standards (although not in writing) are much much higher in order to be competitive. I have been keeping fit pretty much non-stop since I was in elementary school and while I was in the Army we conducted many lifestyle activities and events which would most likely trump any/most civilian lifestyles. How many people can you legitimately count that actually live a vigorous fitness lifestyle in the civilian sector? They are definitely a minority. Almost day in and day out, service men and women conduct events that would probably make most of you puke. It’s just a lifestyle we live. Some are obviously more fit than others, that is the nature of the beast. But lost of that has to do with individual readiness as opposed to unit or Army level readiness. In other words, it’s a mentality and a choice to be better. I do like the concept of Crossfit, but as someone who is now going to college for kinesiology and exercise science I must refer you to a great article which sheds light on the mishaps of such a program. Take for what it is and just keep trucking. Here is the link if you are interested:

    Very respectfully, Jeff
    Retired Army