WHAT exactly does it mean to be fit? Are there universal measures that determine whether one deserves to be labeled a fit individual?
Ideally, one must be able to perform daily physical functions with ease. That includes moving furniture around, pushing a stalled car and that rare, serendipitous instance where you carry the girl (or man) of your dreams out of a burning building.
From a purely armchair perspective, I’ve drawn up a list of three things a man of perhaps 40 years old or below must be able to do in order to be considered fit. As there are no official parameters—none that I know of at least—as determined by a world-governing body on fitness, I simply took liberties.
Bench press your own bodyweight or 50 straight push-ups
Performing a proper bench press utilizes most muscles of the upper body. While primarily hitting the chest and shoulders, it is a good barometer of upper body strength. A 150lb man should be able to bench press six to eight repetitions of the same weight. No partial reps here. Lift the weight from the rack, bring it down until it touches your chest and bring it back up short of locking out your elbows. That’s one repetition. Not comfortable doing bench presses? Try doing 50 straight push-ups with proper form. That gets you a passing grade, as well.
Do three full pull-ups
Start from a dead hang on a parallel bar. Position of the hands or manner of grip should not matter so long as you are able to do three clean pull-ups. From the dead hang where elbows are straight, pull yourself up until the chin touches the bar. That’s one repetition. Now do three. The upper body must not sway, and your legs must not be doing a kicking or cycling motion. It is surprising how many hardcore bodybuilders with gargantuan frames can’t manage to do a single pull-up. Think pulling yourself up when you are hanging by your fingertips from a cliff. Quite functional and life-saving, indeed.
Run five kilometers in under 30 minutes
Now those amazing feats of strength will do you no good if you can’t run to save your life. Bulging muscles ought to be complemented by cardio-vascular fitness. A sub-30 minute 5km run is a pretty decent time and is a must if you wish to consider yourself fit. This is not asking for too much especially when you consider that world-class elite runners do their 5k runs in around 15 minutes or so. Local elite runners are known to clock 16 to 17 minutes on week-end fun races. But don’t burn yourself out trying to make the time. Learn how to pace and slowly build your cardio endurance.
So here are three things to get started on. If you are presently able to do all three, congratulations, you can join the roster of my unofficial fit list. Otherwise, let’s get down to work. Would be happy to hear of your progress.