Monthly Archives: January 2011

Fitness Standards

Sitting here from my lofty vantage point over Silhouette, I’ve been enjoying the traditional New Year’s fitness resurgence. The place has been packed in January, a stark contrast to the quiet days in December, when barely a soul could be seen outside lunchtime and after 18:00.

Of course, most of these folks will probably stop going to the gym after a month, frustrated either at their lack of progress or perhaps fallen into a coma after the deadly boredom of 1hr per day on the treadmill.

There are many reasons why people give up going to the gym, mostly due to the retarded programs that they get from a muscle magazine or personal trainer. But another key factor is lack of goals.

Going to the gym because you “feel like you should”, “need to get in shape” or want “to lose weight” is a recipe for disaster. Those goals must be refined into something measureable like, “lose 10kgs” or “bench press 100kgs”.

Some people are lucky enough to like training and don’t need any extra motivation to go to the gym, which is great. Personally, however, I think that training becomes more focused and interesting when you have goals.

The ultimate goal is to compete in a sport, a powelifting contest, triathlon or regular competition like football or rugby. For those who will never compete, athletic goals should be the focus.

I recently came across a very complete set of athletic standards at this web site. Based on the Dynamax definition of the componenents of physical fitness (cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, speed, power, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy), the document proposes the types of skill that athletes should be able to perform from beginner (level 1) to highly specialised athletes (level 5 – think world record holders).

I think the list is a great rule of thumb for those who want to use their gym time to test whether or not they are making progress. Please read the full document to see the entire scope of the standards, but below I have cherry picked some of the skills that I think are very achievable for the regular trainee.

Run 400m
Level 2 – 85 seconds
Level 3 – 60 seconds

Row 500m
Level 2 – 110 seconds
Level 3 – 90 seconds

Level 2 – 10
Level 3 – 30

Level 2 – 12
Level 3 – 20

Level 2 – 25 seconds
Level 3 – 60 seconds

Standing Vertical Jump
Level 2 – 18 inches
Level 3 – 24 inches

Just  a quick note on the above video. This is Kadour Ziani of the Slamnation, a phenomenal athlete with a vertical leap of 50 inches. Back in the days when I worked in basketball, I got to meet him a couple of times – very cool dude. If you like watching amazing dunk artists, I highly recommend you check out Kadour and some of the slamnation videos on YouTube.

Weighted Pull-up
Level 2 – 1.4x bodyweight
Level 3 – 1.7x bodyweight

Bench Press
Level 2 – 1.2x bodyweight
Level 3 – 1.5x bodyweight

Level 2 – 2x bodyweight
Level 3 – 2.4x bodyweight

Back squat
Level 2 – 1.75x bodyweight
Level 3 – 2.15x bodyweight

Overhead Squat
Level 2 – .65x bodyweight
Level 3 – 1x bodyweight

Level 2 – .75x bodyweight
Level 3 – .95x bodyweight

Now any list like this always creates controversy on the interwebz. Everyone is different and most people have strengths and weaknesses, meaning they could be very good at one movement and crap at another. Anthropometry, i.e. your own particular body dimentions,  is another major factor. If you have long arms that is great for deadlifting, but not so good for overhead pressing.

In my own case, I am firmly at level 2 for most skills (tragically), but I can row a sub 90 second 500m, which would put me closer to level 4. The main reason for this is because I am tall, and have ideal leverages for rowing.

The point of all this is don’t take the list as gospel, and don’t expect that you will be on the same level in every single skill. Nonetheless, use it to help define your own goals and measure whether or not all that time in the gym is bearing fruit.