Every Man Should Be Able to Save His Own Life: 5 Fitness Benchmarks a Man Must Master

by Brett & Kate McKay on September 15, 2009 · 84 comments

in Health & Sports

savelife2

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:

Swim at least half a mile or more

swimming

Run at top speed two hundred yards or more

sprinting

Jump over obstacles higher than his waist

hurdle

Pull his body upward by the strength of his arms, until his chin touches his hands, at least fifteen to twenty times

pullpups

Dip between parallel bars or between two chairs at least twenty-five times or more

parallebar

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.”

{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

1 James NomadRip September 15, 2009 at 9:02 pm

It’s definitely a good start!

2 Alex Chebykin September 15, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Some of these sound hard to do, but so is being a man.

3 Brew September 15, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Well that settles it. I need to get off my ass. Does anybody else not meet these criteria?

4 Matt September 15, 2009 at 11:25 pm

I was doing good until we got to the pull ups!

5 Nick R September 15, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I love fitness challenges. Here’s my thoughts on these:
- Swim a half mile: I have no idea whether I could do it, but it sounds tough… Although I think in a life or death situation a lot of people would be able to do it. It doesn’t take much to float in open water for a long time.

- Running at top speed for 200 yards: Sounds a little strange because what’s top speed. If you’re comparing it an actual competitive metric … yea, tough, but if it’s just your top speed, nah no problem. I run a lot, and I’d guess I could do a half mile to 3/4 of a mile at a sprint.

- Jump over object at waist level: This also doesn’t seem that tough, but it’s also very vague. The picture shows a hurdler, and I remember running hurdles in middle school without much problem, granted age adds a lot of difficulty. Also, do you have to be able to land on your feet or can you do it Olympic high jump style (that would be super easy, most Olympic athletes do their entire height, which does look difficult.)

- Chin ups / pull ups: This is tough but doable. I do 15 chinups twice a week, but pullups are slightly more tough than that. 20 … that’s a much harder number, but still doable.

- Dips: 25 dips are super easy for me. I had a buddy start working out with me, and dips gave him trouble to begin with, but within a couple of months he could pound out 25 no problem.

Keep the fitness challenges coming; they’re my favorite posts!

6 Robert September 15, 2009 at 11:48 pm

I got all the categories beat except the pull-ups. I need to be able to do 10 more to reach the minimum of 15 to be a man. I will have to settle for man-ish for now.

7 Dan September 16, 2009 at 12:28 am

I’m not even close. I was just happy to get a whopping hour on the eliptical tonight! But it is a start. I’ll see if I can do these things over time. I wonder how long we should get to master this? Does anyone know how long it should take an overweight 31 year old man to master this stuff from basically zero?

8 Jared September 16, 2009 at 1:18 am

Nick, I’m a track coach and I would say that hurdles are a lot harder than they look. I’ve had some fit friends come out to the track thinking that hurdling would be as easy as what they see on tv and they either run up to it and stop short, saying how they can’t do it. Or they try and do a face plant. Yeah, high jumping it would be easy, but if we’re talking about saving one’s own life here, I can’t imagine there would be obstacles you’d want to leap over and land on your back. You’d probably be running and have to leap over them and then keep running.

9 Michael September 16, 2009 at 2:35 am

Interesting benchmarks. I can see needing to sprint away from danger or pull one’s self up to something, but how might repeated dips help a guy save his life? And I’ll echo Jared and suggest that the vast majority of men – even those with great speed and strength – can’t and will never easily jump waist-height obstacles “hurdler-style.” Jumping is actually a skill as much as it’s a fitness benchmark. With the use of hands, however, most guys should easily clear such obstacles.

As far as time-to-master goes, here’s my thought: as quickly as you can, but in as much time as you need. How’s that for a zen answer?

10 Bret September 16, 2009 at 3:45 am

Well, as much as this list is inspirational… Real men use the metric system!

11 A fan September 16, 2009 at 6:27 am

@Bret “Real men use the metric system!” Bah humbug!

The original Imperial system (inches rather than centimetres) was invented to standardize measurement. Metres are no purer than inches or cubits or whatever. Its just whatever the current measurement of the realm is.

12 Benjamin September 16, 2009 at 7:09 am

The metric system is evil and communist. Communist!

(Togue 2.34 inches in cheek.)

As far as the fitness benchmarks… Very reasonable. Being truly fit and prepared is a valuable trait that is unfortunately being forgotten.

13 Skot September 16, 2009 at 8:06 am

seems like a reasonable baseline.

The dip and chin up goals seem to be pretty standard for starting strength levels from a lot of coaches and trainers.

14 Jason September 16, 2009 at 8:35 am

Umm….I need to get in better shape or I’ll be dead. :)

15 Robert Real-Man R. September 16, 2009 at 10:03 am

To be able to do these things a man needs training. Have you ever heard of the 5BX plan? It has been developed by the Royal Canadian Air Force in the 1950′s and it consists of 5 exercises: stretching, sit-up, back extension, press-up and running in place. And all the five exercises can be done in 11 minutes!
I have been doing it for 6 months and I can tell you that it really works. If you search Google for the 5BX plan, you will find it easily.

16 Joseph Lenze September 16, 2009 at 10:16 am

Great article. I love that they focus on bodyweight exercises like pull ups and dips. Benching 300lbs is very relative to whether you weigh 150 lbs or 250 lbs. Mastering your own body weight gets you to the right strength to size ratio to be an efficient machine.

17 Mark Marshall September 16, 2009 at 10:36 am

I think the point here is not that you must be able to dip 25 times, but that you have the built in strength to execute a real world move that is similar.

Think of what you would have to do to escape from a stuck elevator. Jump or climb up, open to entry hatch, pull yourself up through it, mantle up onto the elevator roof, then climb up or down a ladder a few stories. Not really calisthenics, but uses the same muscles and skill sets.

18 JR Seaman September 16, 2009 at 10:43 am

All of it just comes with time and practice. It is a lot of work but it is good to know you can save you own life.

Pull-ups are a must! They look easy in the movies when the guy is hanging on the edge of the building or cliff with one hand. But, as an experienced climber, I know it is essential.

Here are some ways to get you up to par.

Do Push Ups- not the short fast kind. Take you time be slow and have good form. 10 well formed push-ups are better than 50 quick sloppy ones.

Swim- Swimming is great for cardio and strength training at the same time. I love it and wish I could do more.

Yoga – sounds feminine but Yoga can strength your muscles, shape up your core, and keep your body limber and healthy.

Just google Chris Sharma, he loves Yoga and he is a beast.

Great yoga resouce. http://www.yogamazing.com/ – get the free podcast

19 Russ Smith September 16, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Wow, interesting idea. I love it. I really have to work on my pull ups. :)

20 Bostonhud September 16, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Fitness, thy name is Crossfit.

21 Luis Q September 16, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Its sad to see that I would die in a life threatening situation. I will try to reach all of this by the end of the year though.

22 Wayne Key September 16, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I like these basic fitness marks. For me it always included a 50 pushup set (done fully and at a moderate pace) and well as some basic self-defense work.

One additional thought I would add to the article is that it is a man’s job to be able to save himself and others. And that begins to add all kinds of parameters. For example, a certification in open water Life Saving. Tho, I could do the half mile swim if pressed to it. could I actually pull someone out of the water well enough and quickly enough to save them? Never having trained in Life Saving I am pretty sadly sure that I couldnt.

Maybe that needs to be next Summer’s project.

23 Luke September 16, 2009 at 4:45 pm

@ michael

It seems to me that the dips are a more indirect measure of life saving fitness but still important nonetheless. Dips measure tricep, shoulder and lower pectoralis strength–how hard you can push. So for example, if you needed to lift something off of yourself, being able to do dips would indicate the strength necessary for such a task.

24 Wayne September 16, 2009 at 6:18 pm

As far as the sprint goes – think 200 yards in 24 seconds. That should suffice.

25 k2000k September 16, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Got all of those cleared myself, though I am a little unsure about hurdling waste height. I can jump that high no problem, but running and hurdling I would be afraid of misjudging the height.
The hardest one of those by far is swimming a half mile that is 825 yards, as a former lifeguard and swimmer, most recreational swimmers I see would have great difficulty doing this in a pool. In a life saving situation, such as out in the open ocean with swells and currents, it would be much more difficult. Tip for ocean swimming, if yo get snagged by a riptide do not swim against it, its futile. Swim parallel to the shore until you are finally released from it and make your way back to shore.

26 Damien September 16, 2009 at 7:29 pm

If man were intended to use the metric system, God would have given him ten fingers.

27 Jack September 17, 2009 at 3:42 pm

DAMN

28 David September 17, 2009 at 7:52 pm

dips are important when you are about to fall into a man sized worm-hole, think about the apocalypse or maybe life on a strange asteroid. definitely clutch for adventures in treasure hunting deep within the congo as well.

I have an semi-related question. I suck at arm wrestling because I have small wrists and they hurt like a son of a gun whenever I arm wrestle. Any tips on strengthening risks that would not cause our grandmothers to blush?

29 Ozone September 17, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Nick R… actually, the half-mile swim is much tougher than it seems. Whereas most people can run, walk, or jump – because those are much more common motions – swimming involves very different movements. Floating is not usually a great option: you drift with the currents, may be succumbing to cold, and if the waves are choppy, you will find it very difficult to breathe. If you are a proficient swimmer, at least you can get yourself moving towards shore. And you’re often in clothes when you end up in the water unintentionally. Clothes are incredibly heavy, and if the water is warm enough for you to strip them off, you have to be adept enough at swimming to get them off in the first place.

All the tasks are tough, but my vote is on the swimming one in terms of the greatest danger!

30 Joe September 17, 2009 at 11:55 pm

I got these beat, and swimming a half-mile isn’t hard. First time I tried swimming length, I got close to a mile at sprint pace (if there’s some sprint equivalent in swimmer jargon, I don’t know it, nor should any real man). The pull-ups are clearly the hardest part of the whole challenge, but if you’re not trying to save your arms for another set, 15 would be pretty easy to hit. My personal best is just shy of 30, like 28 or so.

Oddly enough, the only thing that I know many otherwise very fit people might have real trouble with is the running. I get horrible shin-splints from any considerable running. 200 meters wouldn’t do it, but much more and I’d be feeling it for a while. Otherwise, my cardio could handle it just fine, and in life or death, I could sprint close to half a mile, I’m sure. Though, I would think that a real man be more likely to stay a fight, regardless of how likely failure is, provided the threat is “punchable.”

31 alar September 18, 2009 at 8:03 am

i can do all of these with a bit of extra but im pretty sure, that to save my life, i would need aditional skills and ability – like ” a man needs to be ale to hi objects that are at the hight of his face with his fist accurately and with strengh”, “a man should be able to climb a rope atleast 3x his height” and “a man should knowthe basics of landing/jumping from altitudes higher than his heigh”

32 Merryweather Pettybottom September 18, 2009 at 1:11 pm

15-20 pull-ups? Ridiculous!

33 Sir Lancelot September 20, 2009 at 1:18 pm

@Joe:

So you think the only use of running is escaping from a fight?

34 Anthony September 26, 2009 at 11:00 am

All of these are absolutely necessary in a mans world. The benefits extend well beyond just saving your life, but to saving the lives of others, and to just plain physical fitness in general. Too many people haven’t touched a gym, are overweight, and severely out of shape in this world.

If you haven’t heard of Crossfit, go check it out. US Navy Seals use it, Mareines use it, MMA fighters use it, and even NFL stars are beginning to catch on this grass roots fitness program. It’s the ultimate for any man, or women.

http://www.Crossfit.com

35 Dtown September 30, 2009 at 12:07 am

The 15 to 20 pullups AT LEAST thing seems a little out wack with the rest of the mostly reasonable benchmarks. 20 pullups is a perfect score in the Marine Corps Physical Fitness test. Most guys, even strong ones, can’t do more than 10. I can not envision having to do 17 pullups in a row to save my life, but TV robbed me of my

36 Strength and Fitness Blog October 2, 2009 at 5:49 am

First time visitor here.

This is a pretty good list, but maybe the number of pull-ups is a little high. I don’t think I could do that many, even though I regularly work out. It would all depend on your strength/weight ration. I’d say if you could just do a few pull-ups you’d have the strength needed to climb.

37 James October 3, 2009 at 12:17 pm

No problem… with a bit of adrenalin!

38 Keith Wilcox October 3, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I am proud to be able to say that I can do each of these. The pullups would be the most difficult but I can still do about 20 so I’m good. The rest, easy peasy.

39 Trevor B October 6, 2009 at 10:53 pm

A good addition might be something about a dead-lift, that is the lift most likely to get you or someone else out of a bind, not sure about the weight maybe 225 lbs give or take. but I’m just the idea guy.

40 TFHackett October 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I’m doomed.

41 ronin1975 October 17, 2009 at 8:19 am

These are not unreasonable goals to have. as an outdoors men I use these actions on a repeated basis. compared to one year ago I am at least 3 times more fit now then I had ever been. To reach these goals there are several different training programs someone could use. I personally use “The Pit” workout, it is broken down into three different days worth of exercise. Day 1 is upper body, you do roughly 200 pushups, in different ways. Day 2 is lower body this involves tons of squats. Day 3 is total body, focusing mainly on core muscles. The added bonus to this program is it makes you a better fighter. I am not going to BS anyone, this program is hard as hell, but the results are amazing.
This is not the only program out there, find one you like, get someone to do it with you, and stick to it. The results could save yours, or someone you loves life.

42 Rob314 November 2, 2009 at 5:25 am

The list looks pretty abritrary to me. I’ll bet the guy was able to do all those things (through training), so he chose them as standards for “being able to save your own life”.

Very few competive weightlifters over 180 pounds would be able to do 15 chin-ups and 25 dips, because they’re too heavy. I’ve trained with weights for many years, and I’m very strong at 205 pounds bodyweight, but if someone threatens to shoot me if I can’t do 15 chin-ups, I guess I’ll be “unable to save my own life”.

43 viktor November 6, 2009 at 10:48 am

16 yo yes i do it all :D

44 Russell January 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I dominate all of them ;) haha

45 Jan January 27, 2010 at 5:02 am

Rob314, I guess these exercise aim power/own mass ratio. Competitive weightlifters can lift a truck, but in a “stuck in a hole/climb over wall” scenario, lightweight would ha ve better chances.
Anyway, I guess the most difficult would not be the pullups (though hard as hell), but dips. 25 times? how about 5? That’s more like it for me :-)

46 Core February 28, 2010 at 12:26 pm

The only one I could do probably is the, swim.. and then I’d just roll over on my back, and kinda float/swim.

I tried the last exercise up there..Dip between parallel bars. All I can say is, I couldn’t do it… I am pitiful right now. While I am a slim guy and look healthy, I eat the healthiest meals I can for my situation.

As far as being physically fit.. I am obviously lacking in certain areas..

I am going to do my best to make time and try and get some swimming in this summer.

I don’t know when it happened… well it was gradual, but I went from somewhat active, hiking, swimming, bike riding, to.. workaholic, more out of necessity than want.. of course going to college now doesn’t help.

47 Colt March 4, 2010 at 3:33 am

These are very similar to the principles of “parkour”, or the art of moving. Yes, these exercises will build strength, but I would argue that you would also need to be able to apply them in, say, getting yourself up over a high wall quickly in flight-or-flight situation. If you look into parkour, don’t be put off by the large number of kids that use the art as an excuse to show off to their friends. At it’s core, it’s a sound set of principles that fit with the art of manliness (safety, longevity, personal responsibility, and self-improvement).

Once you have the strength, you must know how to use it.

48 DROC March 6, 2010 at 4:36 am

Gonna test myself on these tomorrow before boxing, just to see where I am. I recently tried the swimming and realised that it’s much more difficult than I imagined, but I should be pretty close to good to go on the rest.

I’ll let you all know

DROC

49 Julian March 25, 2010 at 4:01 am

Okay on everything except for swimming. I can do a couple slow laps but it’s not pretty and I sink like a rock when I stop. During my school years in Chicago, my single swim test was basically jump in the pool and swim to the other side. Pass. Do they even teach swimming in American schools?

50 irontri March 25, 2010 at 10:35 am

Dan #7. I hate to pick on ya. But there was nothing less manly than reading through this and seeing your mention of an elliptical machine. Real men do not use the elliptical for any reason.

51 Anthony April 9, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Irontri, and elliptical is good for some people, because it is low impact, and puts less stress on the knees than running. Although I find it easier than actually running for some reason. I haven’t used one in about a year though.

Lets see where I stand here…

Swimming: I have done that easily, probably 3 or 4x that amount. And it was in a lake with wind, not a pool, so a more likely real danger scenario.

Running: I have asthma, I have a pretty decent top speed because of powerful legs, but I can’t run for long before I am completely winded. This isn’t even something that I can really improve at.

Jumping: I actually just tested it a few weeks ago out of curiousity, and from stationary I can jump to about belly-button height and land on my feet at the same time. With a running start and a hurdle-like jump, I can jump a bit higher.

Chin ups: I made it my goal in January to be able to do one (I had never been able to do even 1 in my life), and as of a few weeks ago, I was able to do 1 with perfect form, and a second one that was kinda sloppy. I could do more with breaks between. My next goal is 10, and then 20. Something I am definitely working towards.

Dips: I can do 25 dips while using one chair with 1 leg raised, but I haven’t tried it with 2, or with bars. Something I’ll have to try out and possibly add to my bucket list.

52 Gilbert May 19, 2010 at 8:32 am

I think the dips might save you if you fall on a hole or crack and u get support by land on your elbows. your body is in the crack but you didn’t fall completely because your supported by your elbows. Then you would have to use dips to get out. Just answering a question for a post.

53 trump May 28, 2010 at 8:24 pm

the pull ups guy is a bit too excited in the trousers

54 Toolpod June 28, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I’m ok on all of these…the swimming I have to ask: “How fast?” If you pace yourself, 860 yards isn’t that bad….especially if you backstroke. Choppy water and currents will make this worse.

All except for the Pull-ups: I gotta agree with this guy: “Very few competive weightlifters over 180 pounds would be able to do 15 chin-ups and 25 dips, because they’re too heavy.”

The further you go over 180 pounds or so, pull-ups become much more difficult. Pull-ups are an excercise that doesn’t benefit from leverages as much as others: this is reflected in the gym equipment, lat-pulldown machines usually don’t go much past 250 lbs or so.

I’m a competitive weightlifter, 210lbs, I can bench well over 450lbs: 25 dips? no problem, but I’d be lucky to get over 10 pull-ups, let alone 15 or 20.

55 Phillip July 15, 2010 at 12:51 pm

i am new to this site and love it. But after reading this article, i wish i would have stayed in bed…right now i’m working two jobs, one from roughly 8am to 4:30, and the other at night from 8-midnight or 1. i have an incredible wife and two small children. carving out the time to exercise will be a big challenge for me right now but i’m reaping the results of not having done so for over a year now. any suggestions?

56 Johann August 11, 2010 at 4:53 am

Wow. I Am A “Gym Rat” (A Man who is in the gym alot). I AM 230 lbs of mostly Muscle. I was in The Infantry for three years. The Swimming I can do. The running sure. That many pull ups and dips?! I*ll Work on it. I*ll work on it.

PHILIP! Check out the Article on the Kettlebell Workout.

57 eightsouthman August 19, 2010 at 6:19 am

Over six decades on this earth, I guess I’m comfortable with what ever happens. If I’m ever in a bind maybe there will be some guys around with mullets.

58 Jim September 24, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Where’s the part about fighting off a dozen ninjas with the empty bottle that you just downed in one gulp?

59 Manny October 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I can do all of this but swim..I really need to learn that. When I was younger, I tried to learn but I was told that I had too muscle mass to properly float. Now, I’m close to 8% body fat and around 170 lb. Help?!

60 Jason Baird October 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I’m doing it. I’ve given myself 3 months to pull it off starting tomorrow. Here we go.

61 Philip Taylor October 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Reminds me of Charles Atlas…the original he-man.

62 Vince November 16, 2012 at 11:50 pm

I am happy to say that I can do all of this. But I recognize that most people can’t. I can because I was a gymnast growing up and spent some time wrestling, doing hurdles and jumping in track, and played water polo. Even with all that I wouldn’t be able to do this if I wasn’t currently coaching gymnastics which helps keep me in shape.

My recommendation to people is that they start small and work on general fitness instead of these specific things. It seems to me that this guy is using these as benchmark tests for how fit you are rather than as goals to accomplish.

63 Quill March 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I’d put my money on 95% of men being able to do 15 pull-ups, unless they weigh very little. This is a lot harder for taller men than it is shorter (extra weight, higher range of movement). Same can be said for dips, although it is a much easier exercise in general.

Also people recommending crossfit should watch some of the videos on youtube showing unbelievably bad / dangerous form on all olympic lifting weight lifting techniques. They preach kipping pullups (basically using momentum to pull yourself up – it’s not a real pullup). I’ve even seen images / gifs of two crossfitters trying to deadlift / clean and jerk with the same barbell. Boggles the mind. On top of this, they have extremely elitist attitudes towards fitness, and charge ridiculous prices to be part of their “club”. Anyone really interested in saving their money, avoiding injury and getting truly fit should avoid crossfit like the plague.

64 Senter March 17, 2013 at 2:32 am

I’m a crazy researcher into fitness. Anything that involves bodyweight exercise involves a mastery of your own body, and eventually you can add weight which will help if you need to run that 200 yards doing a fireman’s carry.
This benchmark is fantastic to me, simply because it isn’t effected by the bodybuilding mentality of most programs… In my opinion, strength and endurance should be much closer together than they are for the common everyday man.
Bodyweight training to me is the ultimate place for the average man to work from. It requires no equipment. It can be done anywhere. It activates every muscle in your body.
Plus if you play video games it is more like leveling up. You have different levels of difficulty for every exercise. It is more like mastering skills, and gaining attributes.
Dexterity and strength + 2
in my opinion Wisdom +4
Books to checkout
The Naked Warrior by Pavel
Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade

65 Alan Crawley April 4, 2013 at 2:31 am

Ha ha! Like it a lot and the dips with the chin up is the perfect way to prepare for getting in and out of the attic to get down the Christmas decorations every year, get the suit cases for holidays and just look like a man doing it. Like it!

66 Will April 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm

That chin-up photo should not be used. His hands are facing the wrong way. That orientation is easier to do, but in real life, like climbing a wall or fence, you’re screwed.

The Army discovered this back in WWII training.

Focus more on the palms “out” position, for real world results.

67 Roger April 8, 2013 at 5:59 am

@Quill (post #63):
I’d bet $5,000 that you’re wrong. I base this on having trained military recruits. At the start, less than half of them can do more than 7 pull-ups, and a surprising number struggle to even do 2. And these are young men who have some interest in fitness and self-discipline, and think they are at least moderately fit. Many of them having spent a few weeks trying to harden up a little before hitting boot camp.

The pull-up is very deceptive. Most of the action is very different to other exercises and most types of manual work. Unless you specifically train for it, you will struggle to do more than a handful, even if you’re otherwise very fit.

@Everyone: I really think most of you have failed to understand this list. Liederman is not saying that there is some specific yet commonplace survival situation, in which you better be able to do 25 dips or else.

Rather, this set of five goals covers a broad spectrum of fitness types that aims to give whole-body fitness that can rapidly adapt to the unexpected.

1. Swim at least half a mile or more
2. Run at top speed two hundred yards or more
3. Jump over obstacles higher than his waist
4. Pull his body upward by the strength of his arms, until his chin touches his hands, at least fifteen to twenty times
5. Dip between parallel bars or between two chairs at least twenty-five times or more

Between them, this list encompasses core strength, upper body strength, leg strength, and the often over-looked grip strength; but it also requires both aerobic power and aerobic endurance, and also the oft-overlooked agility. If your training program has given you mastery of all those, then there will be few situations for which you are not prepared, at least physically. Of course swimming is also a special case: drowning is one of the most common causes of accidental death, and if you or one of your loved ones gets in trouble in water, either you can swim, or someone will probably die.

68 raymond April 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm

I love during burpees, for I am in my sixty and want to stay in good shape. I also want to master the other exercises. I love trying new exercises and in a few months I believe I can master them.

69 Paul April 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm

At 66 years old, the only one I’m not sure about is the dips. Just because I’ve not done them. All the others, I do each week. This lets me do what ever physical challenge that confronts me.
Like playing hard with grandkids.
At this fitness level “Life is good.”

70 Connor May 27, 2013 at 6:51 am

At sea level the horizon is 3 miles away, so I’d change that requirement to 3 mile just so if you’re ever on a boat, you see an island off in the distance, you know you can swim toward it. (Bear in mind with waves, tides, wind ect. you might actually have to swim quite a bit further than that)

@ Senter (in case you ever read this) The Naked Warrior and Convict Conditioning are mediocre at best. The one arm pushup is a really arbitrary measure of strength and a lot of Paul Wades work is broscience or impossible.

Better bodyweight works would be either
1) Never Gymless by Ross Enamait or
2) the Foundation series by Christopher Sommer

which one is better depends on whether you want to condition yourself for a fight or have more strength than you know what to do with, but either one would more than prepare you for the challenges listed here (disregarding the specific skill training needed for swimming)

Remember everyone: The crossover between strength and endurance is greater than you believe, bodyweight training probably wont give you really strong legs, and if you never learn to do a handstand you’ll regret it one day!

71 Connor May 27, 2013 at 7:02 am

To all the people saying that powerlifters can’t do chinups…

Konstantin Konstantinov can do 50 at a bodyweight of 140kg. What’s your excuse?

72 Jason May 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm

I think many people are severely overestimating their ability to sprint 200 yards. A lot of it depends on how you define sprint, which I consider different than run, and define it as a person’s top speed. If you have never tried to run at your top speed for as far as possible, you should, 200 yards would be a challenge. Those saying they could do it for 1/2 mile (Jason Bourne style) might be kidding themselves (or defining sprint differently). 15 pullups is difficult, but I think the sprint is up there as well. I tried sprinting in a race once (thinking I was in good physical condition) and I hit the wall at around 100 yards… and it might have been generously to think I was at a full sprint before I hit the wall.

73 Martin June 23, 2013 at 8:55 am

Thank you, Mr. Liederman. Next time I find myself in a burning house and my life is in danger, I’ll just crank out 25 dips.

74 Mike June 28, 2013 at 9:36 am

I would add to this list being able to:
1) Swim using just your arms.
2) Swim using just your legs.
Just in case you find yourself in the water with broken limbs!

75 Mike June 28, 2013 at 9:38 am

Oh yes, and learning to hold your breath for thirty seconds? a minute? and swimming underwater.

76 Darcy September 6, 2013 at 11:57 am

I can do the pull-ups and dips but they seem to be excessive: chances that you need to pull-up over something 20 times while fleeing yet only sprint 200 yards … I don’t know. Anyway, I’d add that one should be able to run a 5km. I’m thinking 5km will give you some buffer room from the zombies.

77 Austin September 17, 2013 at 7:19 am

I’ve known superb athletes who couldn’t do 15 -20 pullups. They are particularly hard on tall muscular athletes.

For all you crossfit folks, seriously, that “kipping” crap you do isn’t a pullup.

And the dips metric is completely meaningless.

78 jerry September 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm

The most physically fit I have ever been has been when I swam 3 -1 hour sessions a week.

79 Gregory Bolton September 29, 2013 at 9:10 am

We all need to just get away from our electronic peripherals and just get to work.

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