5 Fitness Standards Every Person Should Strive For
5 Fitness Standards Every Person Should Strive For
On one of my favorite podcast episodes, Som and I talked about 5 skills every human should have. I would like to expand upon that subject, and specify 5 fitness standards every Generalist should strive for.
So, let us imagine somebody (couldn’t imagine who) asked me to be in charge of physical education for all the children of the world so to ensure they come up with a ready physical preparedness in all things. Being the reasonable person I am, here’s what I would say:
You are all very special. Whereas I thought you were mostly a nuisance, before–and I still do think that, at times–I can now see that you are all very special creatures, indeed. I know this now after having had a few of my own–Roan and Meara and Isla. Lovely, all of you!
That said, I have been put in charge of your physical development from this moment on. My job is to ensure you do not grow up decrepit and weak and flaccid in the arms, when you should be strong instead. Discipline–discipline is the thing!–you understand?
So, to guarantee this, we will, over the course of however many years we need, work on five skills every person should have if they are to consider themselves “fit.” These are skills that no unfit person possibly could have, so to the extent that you possess these skills, or are close to possessing these skills, you can stop blaming the gym for all your life’s woes. Fitness is not your problem. Which means you are not my problem. And that is a win-win.
The five skills are as follows:
Full free-standing handstand push up (from a deficit for men).
2.5x bodyweight deadlift.
15 pull ups (male); 7 pull ups (female).
100 snatches in 5 minutes with 24kg (male); 16kg (female).
Hold your gasps; I know these are high standards. And that’s the point. Remember what I said: The idea is not about attaining all of them, tomorrow. The goal is that, once you finally do attain them, the gym is no longer a grim, lonely place reminding you of all your horrifying inadequacies and defects. If you can do all these five things, your inadequacies are elsewhere. Does that make sense? Nod your head, please.
So, let us dissect what we have.
5 Skills Every Fit Person Should Work Toward
A free, full-standing handstand push up. This may be the toughest feat on the list, and so will take the most time to develop. But any person who can do one of these has a more than sufficient amount of upper body strength, coordination, stability, and is likely not overweight. It is a solid standard.
2.5x bodyweight deadlift. The deadlift is next, and for that I’m demanding you pull somewhere between two and a half to three times your bodyweight. This amount is right on the edge of specialization territory, but not quite. It is certainly “strong enough.”
Full Splits. Any person who can get into the splits has learned a thing or two about effective stretching habits and flexibility training. It also looks cool.
Pull ups. To hit a certain number of pull ups is to demonstrate adequate upper body strength in conjunction with a healthy body-weight. The numbers given are a reasonable, and certainly not impossible, accomplishment.
100 Snatches in 5 Minutes. Finally, we have our test of conditioning and power. For if you can do 100 snatches in under five minutes with the given weight, you are at least in fairly decent cardiovascular shape and in possession of a good amount of power and coordination, as well.
Will everybody be able to hit all of these standards? No. Which is why we have the letter grade F.
And for anybody who does hit any of these standards, we have the letter grades D- to B+ according how precisely they’re performed. You get an A in my class only if you can defeat principal Vonburen in a sumo-wrestling match.
Children, listen to me–look me in the eye. Gym class is no longer optional, understand? Growing up, I could not do any of these things–could not even run a mile, nor touch my toes. So my teachers let me skip class and choose not to participate. This was extremely deleterious to my development. That choice has been eliminated for you.
PS – I realize not every person will be able to hit these standards. Some may not want to hit these standards, others may have legitimate restrictions forbidding their achievement. (I also realize fully the legitimacy of other standards.) But to advance any kind for standard at all, one must be willing to propose generalities that will not, and cannot, take every scenario into account. This is why individualization matters.
That said, any person who so vigorously pursues these standards–whether they achieve all of them, any of them, or none of them–will come upon a great deal of physical preparedness along the way, no matter what. It is, to be sure, just as much about the journey, as it is the end.
PPS – As for the Kettlebell-Only Standards, here’s what I wrote in the follow up email. (Note: I don’t often share emails on the blog, so if you want to keep up, you can join my email list here.)
Yesterday we talked about 5 standards every fit person should work toward.
A few people wrote in, delighted and ecstatic. A few other people wrote in, saying all kinds of silly and preposterous things. One person told me he was eating a baloney sandwich. I told him *I* was eating a baloney sandwich. Obviously we became friends right away.
Finally, a few more people wrote in, wondering if there are similar standards just for kettlebells. “What if we are not so much interested in all that bodyweight ‘crap’?” is kind of what they said. “And what if we don’t give a hoot about ‘deadlifting’?”
Now, remember why I composed these standards: Generalism: To be better than most people, at most things, even if you aren’t the best at any one. Because that’s our training motto. That’s what makes Strong ON!, Strong ON!
But also remember this about Generalism, young one. Being better than most people at most things doesn’t mean being mediocre at everything. A true Generalist–that is, an expert-Generalist–is really a master of many things (and at least fairly competent at everything else.)
So, no matter what standards we set for Generalism, they are bound to be high, and should be.
But, as for kettlebells? Well, sure. I can come up with five standards. Give me a minute, OK?
Alright, I’ve got it. Here we go.
5 Kettlebell Standards Every Strong-Dumb-Idiot Should Be Able to Do
1) Full Windmill x 5 reps @ 24kg (men); 16kg (women).
2) Front Squat x 15 reps @ 2 x 32kg (men); 2 x 20kg (women).
3) 100 Snatches in 5 minutes or less with 24kg (men); 16kg (women).
4) Kettlebell Inferno Complex @ 20kg (men); 12kg (women).
5) Armor Building Complex @ 2 x 36kg (men); 2 x 24kg (women).
Shall, I explain?
Full Windmill. To do a full windmill (elbow touching top, inside of knee) is to express a sufficient amount of mobility and strength, combined. Remember: Windmill = thoracic rotation + hip flexion; NOT lumbar flexion.
Front Squat. To do 15 reps of front squat with kettlebells as heavy as the ones prescribed, is to demonstrate a superior amount of leg strength, mental toughness, and core stability. Good luck!
100 Snatches. We explained this one in the last email–a true test of mettle. Requires a strong grip, good technique, and lungs that won’t quit.
Kettlebell Inferno. One of my damndest metabolic conditioning routines known to man. If you can get through this one, “cardio” is not your problem.
Armor Building. Finally, a strength test. Since the press will be the limiting factor on this one, the goal is 2 x 36, men; 2 x 24kg, women.
This just in: My illustrious compatriot Aleks Salkin said if you can hit all of these then you are not a “weak, little crybaby.” His words, not mine!
But let me re-iterate. If you’re able to hit every one of these standards, we can be fairly certain that any problems you have in life are no longer related to the gym. Indeed, we can be fairly certain that you are better than most people, at most things in the gym.
And yet the question remains: How the heck do you get there?
So far as I see it, there are two options.
First, you could try standing really close to the microwave every time you cook a Hot Pocket, and see if that does anything.
OR, if you’d rather go the non-radiation-mutation route, you could join Strong ON! and develop these kettlebell skills the old fashioned way–through good, hard daily workouts and challenges.
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