Tag Archives: baseline fitness measurements

U.S. Army Fitness Benchmarks

I’ve written previously how it’s helpful to have some baseline physical fitness measurements on yourself.  That post mentioned up to 14 different items you could monitor.  In the comment section, I recognized that’s too much for some folks.  For them, I suggested just doing the five-item functional testing: 1-mile run/walk (timed), maximum number of push-ups and pull-ups, toe touch, and vertical jump.

A week ago, I was at a training session for adult Boy Scout leaders.  One of the items covered was environmental heat illness: how to avoid, recognize, and treat.  One of the risk factors for heat illness is “poor fitness,” defined as taking over 16 minutes to run two miles.  Inquiring minds want to know where that number came from.  No reference was given.

About.com has an article on fitness requirements for U.S. army soldiers, who are tested at least twice yearly.  There are only three components tested:

  • Number of push-ups
  • Number of sit-ups
  • Time to complete a two-mile run

Fortunately, the Army doesn’t expect a 57-year-old man to perform as well as a 17-year-old.  For instance, a 17-year-old has to run two miles in 19 minutes and 24 seconds or less; the 57-year-old is allowed up to 23 minutes and 24 seconds.  Females and males have different performance standards: a 17-year-old woman has 22 minutes and 24 seconds to run two miles.

The simplicity of the Army’s approach appeals to me.  Check out the APFT tables in the About.com article if you want to see how you compare to Army soldiers.

Steve Parker, M.D.

My Fitness

A maximal exercise treadmill stress test is the standard way researchers measure fitness

This is boring.  You should quit reading now.

A few days ago I suggested some baseline measurements to help you keep track of your fitness level, especially if you’re starting or altering an exercise routine. 

I’m starting a new program soon.  Here are my numbers:

  • Weight: 168 lb (76.2 kg)
  • Height: 5 feet, 11.5 inches (181 cm)
  • Body mass index: 23.3
  • Resting heart rate: pending
  • Blood pressure: pending
  • Maximum consecutive push-ups: 30
  • Maximum consecutive pull-ups: 7
  • Maximum consecutive sit-ups (knees bent, forearms folded over chest): 30
  • 1-mile walk/run: 8 minutes, 45 seconds (jogging anywhere from 6 to 8 mph, average about 6.5 mph)
  • Vertical jump (highest point above ground I can jump to touch): 108 and 3/4 inches (276 cm)
  • Waist circumference: 92 cm (standing) or 87 cm (supine)  [big difference, huh?]
  • Biceps circumference: 33 cm (left) and 33.5 (right)
  • Calf circumference: 39.5 cm (left) and 39 cm (right)
  • Toe touch (stand and lock knees, bend over at waist to touch toes): 7.5 inches (19 cm) above ground

    Me around 2007-2008

I was in much better shape a year ago after I finished 15 weeks of Verstegen’s Core Performance.  The most surprising thing about that plan was that I recovered the ability to bend over and touch my toes; I hadn’t done that since my twenties.  I’m 57 now.  Clearly, I’ve regressed since slacking off from Verstegen’s program. 

I was in much worse shape two years ago, thanks to laziness and the resultant sedentary lifestyle. 

Just before the Verstegen program, I’d also developed some bothersome aching in my left shoulder, probably supraspinatous tendinitis.  I cured that with a couple months of rotator cuff strengthening exercises.

So at this point I’m at an average or moderate level of fitness for me.  If my numbers above seem wimpy, remember that I’m 57-years-old.  Hard to be sure, but I’m fairly confident I’m above the 50th percentile for my age group.

I’ll tell you about my new physical activity plan soon.

Steve Parker, M.D. 

Update April 4, 2012:  I added sit-ups today after finding out that the U.S. Army tests soldiers for sit-ups (among other things) twice yearly.