Most of our clients and likely many of you reading this include improving fitness among their goals, but what is fit. With so much technical information, personal opinion, and marketing ploys, determining what fit is as well as what level of fitness a person should strive for can be difficult. Let us jump right into it.
Fit is not an appearance
Some people believe fitness is a certain appearance, but there is no truth in that statement. While some people who are fit also have a nice physique, the two are not necessarily connected. By that logic, some people believe a person who is overweight cannot be fit, but that is not necessarily true either.
For example, a person might be 5’11” at 180 pounds with a lean frame, but this person cannot run a mile and can only overhead press 50 pounds. This would not classify the person as fit. By that logic, a person might be 5’9″ at 240 pounds with a high level of fat but can run a 10-minute mile and overhead press 100 pounds. This might be considered fit by some people, though the outward appearance would not show it.
These examples are real-world, as both people referenced are former clients. We are not saying the first person is completely unfit or that the second person is the benchmark for fitness, but instead trying to impress the idea that fitness does not have a specific appearance.
Fitness is the ability of a person to perform physical tasks, such as running, jumping, lifting, moving in full range of motion, and to complete complex movements (skill).
The standards for fitness vary by the person or group
No singular standard for fitness exists. CrossFit has standards for fitness; military, police, and fire have standards for fitness; schools have standards for fitness, and we have standards for fitness. Many other people or groups have standards for fitness too.
The point is fitness is not a singular metric or group of metrics defined by a person or group. Fitness is subjective and relative to the standards of the person or group assessing.
For the sake of comparison, we will provide a couple of examples. Marine fitness testing standards vary by age group. You can see some of the standards in the link below.
Even in one group, such as the Marines, what is fit is subjective and relative, in this case, relative to age and gender.
CrossFit does not have a singular, unifying fitness standard for all affiliates and attendees of CrossFit boxes. That said, affiliates often set standards for the members of their gym. For example, CrossFit Hale sets the standards you see at this link:
In this example, standards for members vary, though not on age as in the Marines, but rather on experience, as denoted by the various levels such as Beginner.
Again, even in one group, this time CrossFit, fitness is subjective and relative. Indeed, if we looked deeper at CrossFit, you would find the fitness is defined not just by experience, but also by age, gender, and other factors, such as disability.
Fitness for the average person is subjective and should be relative to the person’s situation
At Nathan DeMetz Personal Training, we set different standards for the average person versus the athlete. That only tells part of the story though, as we set minimum standards based on goals, sport, or other factors, such as job requirements.
Fitness minimum standards we have at Nathan DeMetz Personal Training
We have bare minimums for fitness. Simply put a person should be able to:
- Deadlift 50 pounds
- Squat 50 pounds
- Overhead press 50 pounds
- Run a mile in 10 minutes
- Have full mobility of the body
To some of you, those standards are shockingly low, to others, that might seem like a lot. Fitness is about perspective, as we said through this writing. However, we did not come to these numbers through mere perspective.
Based on our experience, but not empirical data, a person who can perform the three lifts with the prescribed weight will be able to perform most “average” real world tasks. For example, the person will be able to lift 40-pound bags of water softener salt, carry heavy groceries from the car, and be able to hold an 18-pound baby—the weight of an average nine-month-old girl—for an extended period.
At the same time, the person who can meet the fitness metrics will be able to drag or carry an eight-year-old boy—the average weight of a male child this age is 50 pounds—from a burning house, out of water, or away from another dangerous situation. These minimum fitness abilities will allow the average parent to save the life of his or her child. That might seem dramatic, but the main reason for being fit is the real-world application.
On a less dramatic note, in our experience, people who are able to run a 10-minute mile and complete the other tasks listed are less likely to suffer metabolic syndrome and the underlying markers—increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride level. This means people will be less likely to suffer serious and life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Learn more about metabolic syndrome at this link https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/metabolic-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20351916.
Finally, full body mobility will allow you to move freely when performing activities, and when combined with the other attributes, will allow to do them for extended periods. This may include work, housework, or playing with the kids outside. For example, if you can run a mile in 10 minutes plus place 50 pounds overhead, then running around in the yard with the kids and swinging them will be easy.
Now, we do not mean these tasks and associated numbers are the maxima for which someone should strive. Instead, this is just the minimum, a starting point. How far someone should carry his or her fitness depends on the goals and overall situation of the individual.
Standards for our personal fitness
Our personal fitness standards do not matter when you consider yours, though you should strive for the minimum fitness standards we set for all people, if not something more. That said, you might wonder about the standards to which we hold ourselves. First and foremost, we hold ourselves to the minimums set for you, but we strive for more.
Grace—be able to pick up 100+ pounds from the ground and put it overhead (clean and jerk), deadlift upwards of 200 pounds, squat upwards of 150 pounds, full body mobility, run a mile in 8:00-10:00.
Nathan—deadlift and squat a minimum of two times body weight (currently 450 and 425 respectively), clean and jerk 200+ pounds (currently 265), run a mile in no more than 7:00 (currently 6:20), be able to run a half-marathon as well as all lesser distance in good times (big done checkmark for this one), stand on hands, be able to move well, and many other things
Our self-imposed standards are different from each other, just as our standards are different from those we set for clients or those you may set for yourself. That said, do strive for the minimums we listed for everyone.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science. Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.