Are You Physically Fit?

by derek on August 14, 2007 · 24 comments

As much as I would like to say that I am physically fit, I would be lying to you.
I’ve been using my years as a full-time desk jockey as an excuse for my expanding waistline and have come to the realization that I really need to improve my level of fitness. Not only do I want to be physically fit just for myself, I’ve also got two young sons that I want to be a role model to and that includes proper health and fitness.
Over at Men’s Health they are currently running a challenge that asks: Are you Men’s Health fit?
The MH Challenge includes five fitness tests from the world’s top trainers that are intended to measure your strength, speed, endurance and desire. It is free to sign up and join the community of guys (assuming the ladies would be welcome as well) who are testing themselves. In addition, they are providing a 6-week program of simple workouts, weight-loss advice and daily tips on technique. If fitness is not enough to motivate you, they are also giving away one video iPod every day for 100 days.
There are five fitness tests included as part of the challenge: single-leg squat, 1-mile run, vertical jump, chinup and pushup. Each test is scored between 2 and 8 points with the maximum score being 40 points to be considered MH fit. You get 10 points just for trying and according to the Fitness Calculator, I scored 16 points (using my assumptions as I haven’t performed any of the tests yet) and am considered average.
Here is a little bit of background on each of the tests and what is considered “average”, “fit” and “MH fit”:
Single-Leg Squat
The single-leg squat is intended to measure not only your strength but the tremendous amount of core control required to complete the movement. To be considered MH Fit you must be able to do 5 or more reps, 3 reps indicates you are Fit, 1 rep is Average and 0 reps is Out of Shape. Given that I have never attempted this movement, I counted 0 reps for myself.
1-Mile Run
The mile is a good barometer of your overall fitness and requires power, stamina and determination. The MH Fit man can complete the mile in less than 6 minutes, Fit in less than 7 minutes, Average in less than 8 minutes and anything over 10 minutes is Out of Shape. While I’ve run a mile before, it has been some time and I hate to admit that my time was up in the 10-12 minute range.
Vertical Jump
The vertical jump demonstrates your power and athletic ability. MH Fit level is above 24 inches, Fit is between 19-24 inches, Average is between 16-18 inches and less than 16 inches is Out of Shape. To be honest, I have no idea what my vertical jump is but considering that I am an overweight man in my 30’s I felt it was safe to assume that I was below 16 inches.
The chinup is a great measure of strength, primarily in the back. To be MH Fit you must crank out 9 or more reps, 8 reps for Fit, 4 reps for Average and 0 reps for Out of Shape. I’ve been guilty of focusing my strength training on the front muscles as I can bench press well over 300 pounds but the last time I tried a chinup I wasn’t able to crank out even one single rep with good form. I’m sure the excess weight around the middle doesn’t help either as that is all dead weight to lift up.
Similar to the bench press, pushups are a very common exercise to measure your level of strength. MH Fit equals 49 or more pushups, Fit equals 35-49 pushups, Average equals 20-34 pushups and anything below 20 pushups is Out of Shape. Given my focus on bench press, I am actually pretty good with the pushups and can crank out more than 50 in one sitting.
I’ve been guilty of having the perception that because I can bench press over 300 pounds that I am considered to be fit. I’ve also been guilty of trying to rationalize that I am just a “bigger” guy but the fact of the matter is that I am out of shape and I need to challenge myself to improve my fitness.
As my 32nd birthday is approaching in less than a month, I figured that now is the time to get serious about improving my fitness and will try to use these five tests as a measurement of my progress. On the agenda is an appointment at the doctor to get an overall assessment of my health and have my cholesterol, blood pressure and blood tested. I’ve had some spotty family history as my maternal grandfather passed away as a result of diabetes and my paternal grandmother has had very high cholesterol for quite some time.
Personally, I’ve always been one to stay away from the doctor and do not like to take any type of medication. But with my family history, I figured it was important to have things checked out and I owe a bit of gratitude to Melanie over at Dietriffic as well as her recent series of posts on diabetes has motivated me:

I encourage all of you to stop by the Men’s Health Challenge and test your own level of fitness in each of their five tests.
If anyone is interested in a fun little challenge, we can have our own little challenge to measure our current level of fitness and monitor our progress over the coming months as I plan to provide regular updates on how I am doing.
Who is interested?

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie August 14, 2007 at 7:33 pm

Hi Derek – I like your idea of a little fun competition with your readers, that’s a great way to motivate one another!! Best wishes! I’m still writing my diabetes series, so stay tuned.
Looking forward to reading how you’re getting on!!! 🙂


CASH for COMMENTS August 14, 2007 at 8:24 pm

Reading it just gets me tired. Hah. j/p i think its more so opportunity cost of time. If we didn’t have to blog/work so much we would be out there at the gym. But this is the sacrifice of a blogger. jp


derek August 14, 2007 at 10:26 pm

@Melanie :: I’ve got your series starred in my RSS reader for continued reference as you’ve got some great information in there. I’m looking forward to the next post in the series!
@Cash :: I’ve used that excuse myself countless times but I’ve gotten to the point where I need to stop making excuses and find the time to do it.


Melissa- August 15, 2007 at 3:25 pm

Derek, I just discusses physical & mental health tips for SEOs, SEMs, bloggers etc…it had so many hits. I was shocked. I guess everyone is thinking about it right now 🙂


Jake from August 15, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Hey Derek. My wife and I are starting our own little program. I may start a blog for it and try to get some others to jump on board and we can all get in shape together.
Since I got out of the Air Force I am not in near the shape that I was.
Time to drop some pounds.


derek August 15, 2007 at 4:39 pm

@Melissa :: Thanks for mentioning your article, very nice read. I’ve actually got a pretty nice home gym setup that actually includes a heavy bag! 🙂
@Jake :: I’ve contemplated a separate site for the fitness aspect but for the time being just figured I would post a few updates here. But it sounds like we are in the same boat, err should I say plane? 🙂


Leo August 15, 2007 at 8:51 pm

How about I challenge you to Crossfit?
I have been so busy working I’ve barely had to time to go work out 🙁


derek August 15, 2007 at 9:36 pm

I’ve looked into a Crossfit place in my area and there isn’t one that is close. Is it something that I can do at home with my the equipment/weights that I have?


Free Self-growth eBooks August 16, 2007 at 8:12 am

I discovered that the Single-Leg Squat was incredibly hard to do right. Guess I am out of shape 🙂


derek August 16, 2007 at 10:05 am

You’re not kidding. I was right to assume that I would be at zero reps, although I initially thought I would surely be able to do at least one. As you mention, when using proper form it is very difficult.


Dez Blanchfield August 27, 2007 at 5:30 am

you’re going to write this off as impossible and a joke, but if you honestly want to get it together, here’s a basic recipie you can follow (read as “add to your current routine) to get in shape.
1 – do basic tummy crunches laying on the floor on your back, start at 50 a day, build up with 50 extra per week, to around 250 a day, ideally in the morning before you eat, and drink around a litre of water after you’re done, have a shower, and then, and only then, consider eating a healthy breakfast
2 – walk around 30 to 60 mins a day, average speed, as quickly as you feel comfortable doing, and keep it up, don’t go slow, fast slow, keep up the past, again, build it up over a few weeks, and ideally walk around a hour a day for at least three days a week, and again do it in the morning if you can, drink a litre of water, then shower, and again eat a basic healthy breakfast
3 – eat when you reach a hungry state of 3 and no less (0 = you feel like a snack but really arn’t hungry, 1 = you feel hungry but you’ve already eaten in the last 4 to 6 hours, 3 = you’re hungry and haven’t eaten for 4 hours and it’s one of your three main means [breakfast, lunch or dinner only], 4 = you’re very hungry, and haven’t eaten in the past 4 hours, and 5 = very very hungry, well done not giving in but please don’t starve, eat three normal means, and if you have to snack, eat fruit, or drink water)
4 – don’t eat crap, don’t drink sugar drinks, and be sensible, eat fruit if you want a snack, you can’t get fat eating apples, it’s just not possible, you can’t get fat eating banana’s, again just not possible, but you will get fat on coke, doughnuts, and macdonalds, any idiot can figure that out
5 – get a good nights sleep, but don’t over sleep, get at least 4 hours a night, and no more than 7 hours a night, less than 4 is hard to maintain, more than 7 is not necessary (unless you’re working in the fields or down a coal mine) and not healthy.
Follow those basic rules, and you’ll drop around 20+ kilo’s in three months, 100% for sure, so go try it, prove me wrong 😉


derek August 27, 2007 at 11:46 pm

Dez, first I want to say thanks for stopping by and sharing this detailed plan.
As an FYI, I did remove all of the links you had in your signature. I don’t mind you using the link provided and share the link love, but when the links in the comment aren’t relative to the discussion they get axed. Hope you understand.
I’ll share your suggestions with my wife as we’re trying to introduce a more healthy lifestyle for the whole family and get involved in a few family activities such as nightly bike rides or walks.
Thanks! 🙂


Niklas February 10, 2008 at 12:54 pm

I’m not. When you’re 30+, with family and a daywork it seems impossible to get that “perfect” shape.. Good enough is what I’m striving for..


Eleanor April 29, 2008 at 9:55 am

hello derek! first off, i must say that the mh challenge…. well… is quite a challenge… in fact, i think that for some guys these fitness tests would be pretty hard, much more for the ladies, especially if you are just starting out… anyway, the reason why i was pushed to leave a comment here is because of your purpose of changing your lifestyle to live fitter and healthier, and hey, its not as easy as it sounds… but kudos to you for doing it not only for yourself, but more importantly for both your kids!
Eleanor’s last blog post..GrowLean 15


derek April 29, 2008 at 10:02 am

It isn’t easy, and I wish that I could tell you that I have done better than I have. Since this post I’ve lost a little more than 10 pounds, which is mostly a result of trying to limit my late night snacking.
My biggest weakness is late at night, when everyone is in bed and I am up late working on my blogs. I’ve been getting better but it is still a challenge for me.


Jacob May 22, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Perhaps “fit” should be defined in its different roles. Doctors are going to look at fit as to how you body composition affects your internal health like clogged arteries and blood pressure etc… But to be considered “fit” in terms of athletics.. like “game shape” being fit requires a whole lot more. Some people fit is others out of shape… My problem is finding ways to get big at home.. not fit but big… perhaps I just need to break down and get a weight machine.


Peter|Workout Equipment June 8, 2008 at 10:23 am

I did the test and thank god I am still fit. Thanks for the links Derek.
Peter|Workout Equipment’s last blog post..ProRower H2O RX-750 Home Series Review | Home Water Rowing Machine


Dan August 16, 2008 at 9:37 pm

I’m fit. good


todd@gain muscle and lose weight November 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

Wow that is cool. I’m your age but have no children. I’ve worked out all my life and have just loved it. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story. Very cool that you’re doing this now instead of starting 20 years from now like a lot of people who don’t realize the value of fitness until later in life. Good stuff!


physical therapy los angeles November 10, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Just out of curiosity, do you know if Women’s Health offers something like this?


Ryan April 13, 2011 at 2:41 am

Hey I was reading your article on if a person is physically fit or not. If you ask me the criteria is a little small. Someone who is fit should be able to get to 75 push ups and at least 15 pull ups. That is just my opinion on it though :). I enjoyed what you have written thanks!


Jason June 7, 2011 at 8:51 am

Hi There,
First off Thanks Derek for the great article. I went to the link but I missed the challenge. I found your article helpful and apparently I have work to do. Please come and check out my blog to find out where you sit on the weight chart with the BMI calculator.


Carmen November 25, 2011 at 10:32 am

When I decided enough was enough and I was going to take care of my body I had no idea on what and who to believe as far as the right fitness information for women was concerned. I found different forums and blogs that had some decent information but most of the talk was about pills and supplements. The one thing I did know was that I was not going to use pills….I was going to do it naturally.
After some research on “fitness for women” the one name that popped up over and over was Mike Geary. I found his information to be a great step by step guide on what to eat and what to do to stay fit. The one thing about his beliefs in fitness is that you must be willing to give up some bad (good tasting foods) to see results.


Jeff January 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Great article on fitness, personally my fitness plans consist of mma(mixed martial arts) and weight training especially bench press, i wasn’t always like this, a couple years back i couldn’t even run 100 metres without running out of breath, but found the motivation through watching ufc. Have you seen this other site it’s got some great tips on building muscle through bench pressing, check it out Bench Press Program


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