BY BOBBY MAXIMUS
“Just how fit should I be?”
It’s a question I receive all the time. I run Gym Jones. It’s known as one of the world’s most hardcore gyms, and it produces some of fittest people on the planet. My clients include pro-athletes, Special Forces soldiers, and everyday guys.
I believe in building truly fit, capable people. That’s why I ask people who train at the gym to aim to reach my famous fitness standards.
They reveal just how capable you should be. There are 20 standards on the full list, and if you can accomplish them all, you’re fitter than 99.9 percent of the population. Here are the seven most critical.
Related: Are You MH Fit? Take The Test!
If your back squat is solid, every other lower-body strength exercise works well behind it. For example, guys with a heavy squat usually have a heavy deadlift. The opposite isn’t always true. The move works your body’s most powerful muscles: your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Hitting double bodyweight shows me your legs are strong enough to handle nearly any feat life throws your way.
The ability to do 10 bench press reps with your bodyweight, in my experience, transfers to real life better than a big one-rep max lift. That’s because most upper-body workouts or tests—for example, the pushup tests my Special Forces soldiers take in the military—require some endurance. If you can fire off 10 reps of your bodyweight, you’re going to have a strong one-rep max bench, and you’re also going to pass most military and law enforcement pushup tests.
Related: 4 Ways You Screw Up Your Bench Press
Most people can crank out a few reps using their arms or back muscles alone. But to nail 15 clean pullups, you have to engage all your muscles—lower body, core, and upper body—at once. Fifteen reps indicates you know how to use your muscles in synergy, are strong for your size, and aren’t carrying too much excess weight.
Getting up off the ground while holding a weight overhead isn’t easy. But the exercise “sorts out” your core, meaning it’ll correct imbalances and help you build a virtually bulletproof vest of muscle around your entire torso. It also builds and maintains full-body mobility. Performing it with half your bodyweight overhead shows me your midsection is strong as hell, and that you can move like an athlete. Here’s a tutorial.
CAN YOU COMPLETE A 500-METER ROW IN 90 SECONDS?
Most sports are comprised of 20-90 second insanely intense efforts followed by lulls in action. Passing this test tells me you have the lungs and power to drop the hammer and pull ahead of the guy next to you, but also sustain the effort for a good amount of time, which is the key to topping the competition. That’s key for guys like Special Forces soldiers breaching a compound, or UFC fighters in an exchange of punches.
CAN YOU COMPLETE A 2000-METER ROW IN 7 MINUTES?
Yes, you need a killer set of lungs to pull off this feat. But I consider it a test of your mental toughness more than your physical fitness. The rower’s computer is totally objective—you can’t cheat reps or pull off any other hijinks to log a faster time. You can only row faster. At the halfway point, you’ll want to quit (if you don’t, you’re not going hard enough). Silencing your mental demons and pushing past the suffering to log a killer time shows me you won’t say die no matter how bad things get.
Lots of trainers bash long runs. My take: If you can’t cover a good distance of ground quickly, you’re not that fit. Running is the most fundamental form of human exercise. The ability to burn through more than 6 miles in 50 minutes or less—an 8 minute mile pace—tells me your lungs are in order. It also shows that you likely have the ability to recovery quickly during rest periods or timeouts. What’s more, the 10 kilometer run seems to be an ideal training distance to prep my Special Forces guys in the event they ever have to flee a hot zone.
You’ll notice these standards test your strength, power-endurance—which is your ability to produce strength and power repeatedly—and endurance. If you want to be truly fit, you need to have a high level of fitness in each of those categories.
Individually, those seven fitness standards are good, but not great. A guy who can, for example, squat twice his bodyweight or bench 10 reps with his bodyweight is strong, but he’s not breaking any strength records anytime soon. A guy who can row 2,000 meters or run 10 kilometers in 50 minutes has a pretty solid base of endurance, but he’s not taking the podium at a race.
But a guy who can do all those things? That person is exceedingly fit.
Most people tend to be good in one area, but not in others. That’s because the body types and skills that lead to more strength, endurance, or power often compete with each other. This shouldn’t be a shock: Short, beefy guys tend to lift more, while long, lean guys tend to be better at cardio.
You’ll struggle with some of the standards. That’s how you find your weaknesses. Once you’ve identified them, you can begin working to iron them out. When you’re ready to get started, you can find the same 12- and 26-week workout programs that I use to help my Gym Jones clients achieve elite, functional fitness in my new Men’s Health book, Maximus Body. The programs will get you in the best shape of your life, and help you nail all 20 standards.