Part 2: Fitness for life

Part 1: How high are your standards” was about the definition of fitness, how it’s not the same as health, and why we need standards to keep us honest in our pursuit of lifetime fitness.

This email includes my strength standards that cover the most important fitness qualities.

They’re divided into Good / Great, with Female and Male standards where specified. Some of the standards (such as falling safely, getting off the floor, and walking) are universal expectations for everyone.

If you don’t meet some or most of the standards, I recommend you pick 1-2 to focus on at a time. As soon as you start to work toward a new goal, you’re already doing great.

For example, if you can’t do any of the squat standards, you can start by learning how to squat with correct form, then include the squat movement in your program. Even before you meet your goal, you’re already increasing your fitness in a new way.

Without further ado, here are my lifetime fitness standards!

Safety (for men and women of all ages)

Aerobic and Muscular Endurance (for everyone)

  • Walk for 60-90 minutes at a brisk pace without stopping
  • Run a mile in 12 minutes or less / Run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes or less
  • Swim for 5-10 minutes straight, tread water for 30 minutes – preferably in that order (also check out drownproofing if you have trouble treading)
  • Ruck 6 miles with 35 dry pounds* in 90 minutes or less (from Army Ranger Test) / Ruck 12 miles with 35 dry pounds in 2 hours 50 minutes or less

*Dry pounds refers to the weight in your pack or vest and doesn’t include food, water, or extra equipment. Great rucking tips here, especially about footwear and blisters. 


  • Everyone: 30 second hang from pullup bar
  • Women: 1 minute hang from pullup bar / 1-3 pullups
  • Men: 5 pullups / 15 pullups

Pushups and Presses

  • Everyone: Pushup-position plank for 30 seconds / 3 minutes
  • Women: 1 pushup / 10 pushups without stopping or Bodyweight bench press
  • Men: 10 pushups without stopping / 40 pushups in 1 minute or less
  • Men: Bodyweight barbell bench press / Bodyweight strict standing barbell overhead press

Note: For most people the pushup standards are plenty. The press standards are included as an extra for people who already do those lifts.


  • Women: Bodyweight deadlift or Rack deadlift* with 125% of bodyweight  / 1.5 x bodyweight deadlift or Rack deadlift with double bodyweight
  • Men: 1.5 x Bodyweight deadlift or Double bodyweight rack deadlift*  / Double bodyweight deadlift or 2.5 x Bodyweight rack deadlift*

*Rack deadlift bar position just below the knee. If you need straps it still counts, but make it a goal to do this lift without them. No straps allowed for regular deadlifts off the floor.


  • Everyone: 10 reps of goblet squat, hold bottom position for 60 seconds on last rep and come up smoothly (women 25-35 lb, men 50-62 lb)
  • Women: Barbell back squat or front squat with 135 lb or bodyweight* / Barbell squat with 135 lb or bodyweight for 5-10 reps
  • Men: Barbell back or front squat with bodyweight / Barbell squat with bodyweight for 10-15 reps

*Tall and lanky or petite women may use the lower of the two weights.

Loaded Carries

  • Women: Farmer’s walk with 75% of bodyweight (total) / Farmer’s walk with 1-1.5 times bodyweight (total)
  • Men: Farmer’s walk with bodyweight (half bodyweight each hand) / Farmer’s walk with double bodyweight (bodyweight each hand)

The Science

[1] Studies show the sit-rise test can predict overall mortality risk: