That’s a loaded question, right?
- What is fitness?
- How do you tell whether someone is or isn’t fit?
- What does it mean to be healthy?
- What are the components of fitness, of health and well being?
These just a few questions, we and the fitness industry continue to define and redefine. This term also means different things to different people/ cultures. Qualifications for “being fit” for the average human adult are different than those for the various military branches and for athletes (the vary based on sport) etc..
- the condition of being physically fit and healthy
- the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task
- an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment
- CDC defines physical fitness as the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies
- the state of being free from illness or injury
- a person’s mental or physical condition
- WHO defines health as the “State of complete physical, mental, and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” as a dynamic condition resulting from a body’s constant adjustment & adaptation in response to stresses & changes in the environment for maintaining homeostasis
Common Components of Fitness:
- Cardiorespiratory endurance – typically measured by how long / fast a person can perform an activity & impacts on HR and O2 consumption; ex: cooper run
- Muscular endurance – typically measured by how many reps of an exercise a person can perform; ex: push ups
- Muscular strength – typically measured by how much weight can be moved in relation to reps; ex: squats or bench press
- Muscular power – typically measured by how much force can be generated during an activity.
- Flexibility – typically measured by how far a muscle group can be stretched or joint can be moved; ex: sit & reach test
- Balance – typically measured by how long a particular position can be held with or without some type of activity being performed; ex: standing on one leg or standing on an unsteady object while trying to catch a ball
- Speed – typically measured by how quickly an individual can move from one point to another; ex: 40-yard dash
- Body composition – this is the amount of fat on the body versus other tissues such as muscle, bones and skin. Measured through a variety of tests and devices; simple tests use equations or calipers, advanced tests use underwater weighing. Ex: bioelectrical impedance
A closer look at weight lifting …
Olympic Weight Lifting = a registered sport incorporating the use of two independent lifts requiring the athlete to lift a loaded barbell from the floor to an overhead position in an explosive manner.
The ‘Clean & Jerk’ & the ‘Snatch’ are explosive movements; they require a combination of maximal strength and maximal speed.
Powerlifting = an individualized sport where competitors attempt to lift as much weight as possible for one repetition in the squat, bench press, and deadlift
Since this is the weight lifting type I work with, I’ll stick to this category
Average Standard for an Adult Woman (I looked at Body Weights of 148-165#):
- Untrained = 75-80#
- Novice (training for 3-9 months) = 90-95#
- Intermediately Experienced (training for 1-2 years) = 105-115#
- Advanced Lifter (training for 2+ years) = 135-145#
- Elite (competes) = 165-185#
- Jennifer Thompson, a 132# powerlifter, broke her bench press record and set a new record by bench pressing 300#, ~2.3 times her body weight
- Untrained = 65-70#
- Novice = 120-130#
- Intermediately Experienced = 140-150#
- Advanced Lifter = 185-200#
- Elite female who competes = 230-255#
- Untrained = 80-90#
- Novice = 150-160#
- Intermediately Experienced = 175-190#
- Advanced Lifter = 240-260#
- Elite female who competes = 295-320#
General Lifting: 1.25 x your body weight = You’re average.
1.5 x body weight = You’re pretty strong.
2 x body weight = You’re a beast!
Some Notes/Suggestions on Bench Pressing (can be applied to squats and deadlifts too):
- Switching from 8-10 reps to 5 helps build endurance; with fewer reps you can add in more weights, so the muscles become stronger and bigger.
- Lifting 3 sets of weight at 30% of your 1-rep maximum makes for more muscle gains than lifting at 80 percent of your maximum.
- You can increase bench strength by bench pressing at least 2x/wk with a rest of 3-4 days in between.
- Bench press warm-ups include initial lighter sets. Gradually add weight until you have reached the work weight. Recommended warm-up with an empty bar before bench pressing.
- Having an improved bench press form increases its effectiveness. Weight lifting becomes easy when the bar moves the shortest distance from the chest. This enhances stability and prevents injuries. An improper form may cause impingement of the shoulder, wrist, elbow and lower back.
- Micro-loading refers to addition of <5lb/2.5kg in each workout. It directly elevates the bench pressing by slowing the plateaus. Plateaus can be delayed by smaller increments, because it slows down your progression. Adding weight becomes easy when you bench press heavy.
- It’s essential to rest for 5 minutes between each set of heavy bench press. Resting for a longer duration increases the ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which will make the rep harder.
- Whether you are doing shallow, parallel or deep squats, and regardless of your weight placement, you want to make sure the weight you are squatting is challenging enough to complete 8-12 repetitions before feeling muscle fatigue.
- When can easily complete more reps, gradually increase your weight by 5-10%
- If you are training with bench, squats & deadlifts, then once a week 60min for each lift is very adequate. If you are not doing bench and squats, then you can deadlift for 60min – 3x/week. If you are adding squats, then train deadlift routines once a week.
Push-ups are also a way to measure muscle strength and endurance. According to The American College of Sports Medicine, here’s how many modified push-ups you should be able to do based on age:
20 -29 17-33
For full push-ups with toes on the ground, not knees, the average would be lower, but, hopefully, you’re working towards doing full unmodified push-ups.
If you can do 8-10 unmodified push-ups, you’re doing better than the overwhelming majority of women. The ability to do push-ups is an excellent indicator of overall muscle strength and endurance.
Defined as the max amount of oxygen your body can utilize during exercise. It’s a combo of how much O2-rich blood your heart can pump, & the muscles efficiency in extracting & utilizing the oxygen. These are relative VO2max scores, in the units of mL’s of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml.kg-1.min-1).
Suggested Strength Goals:
- Bench press 75% bodyweight for 1 rep, or 85% of that number for 5 reps
- Deadlift pull 150% bodyweight for a 1 rep, or 85% of that number for 5 reps
- Barbell back squat 125% bodyweight
- Standing Barbell Press at 60% of body weight – working up to a weekly 3-5 rep max on the standing barbell press then backing the weight down significantly & performing 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps.
- Complete 10 Barbel hip thrusts at 1.5x bodyweight – pyramid sets, performing a set of 10, a set of 8, a set of 6, then a set of 15 reps
- Perform 10 standard push ups
- Complete 1 bodyweight chin up
- Hold a plank for 2 min
- Clear a 20″ box jump – strength (the ability to produce force) is very important, women should also focus on developing & maintaining power (how quickly and explosively strength is expressed).
- If you’re new to jumps, start with a 12-inch-high surface, get your technique down, and then go from there. Try 3 sets of 3-5 jumps prior to your lower-body workouts, and try to progress the surface height every other workout
Top 10 2012 CrossFit Open Men/Women:
Top 10 2014 CrossFit Open Men/Women:
There are many ways to look at fitness. It’s good to check out all the different qualifications of fitness and figure out for yourself what your goals are based on what it is your trying to accomplish. For myself, I’m looking for functionality – functional fitness. My motive for working out is to have a healthy and balanced life. I feel pretty good about where I’m at right now and where I stand strength wise. These numbers are a good way to track my success, set goals for myself and keep improving in the areas I need to!