In 1926, strong man and physical culture enthusiast Earle Liederman wrote a book called Endurance. In it, Liederman makes the case that every man should be physically fit enough to save his own life in an emergency. He sets out five fitness benchmarks that indicate whether a man is up to this task. None require you to be able to bench press 500 pounds or have six pack abs. Rather, the benchmarks focus on having the strength and endurance to run, swim, or pull yourself to safety. If you’re looking for a fitness goal, the five fitness benchmarks Liederman lists are a good place to start.
According to Liederman:
“Every man should be able to save his own life. He should be able to swim far enough, run fast and long enough to save his life in case of emergency and necessity. He also should be able to chin himself a reasonable number of times, as well as to dip a number of times, and he should be able to jump a reasonable height and distance.
A man should be able to:
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Swim at least half a mile or more
Run at top speed two hundred yards or more
Jump over obstacles higher than his waist
Pull his body upward by the strength of his arms, until his chin touches his hands, at least fifteen to twenty times
Dip between parallel bars or between two chairs at least twenty-five times or more
If he can accomplish these things he need have no fear concerning the safety of his life should he be forced into an emergency from which he alone may be able to save himself.”