I came across this article a couple of weeks ago when one of my friends (can’t remember who) shared it on social media (can’t remember which platform). When I went to the article, I recognized the website as one that one that a couple of my male friends from college had loved – The Art of Manliness. I’m really not sure there’s a better website title out there…but that’s beside the point. This particular article was about an early 20th century book called Endurance, in which author Earle Liederman states that every man should be fit enough to save his own life. You would not believe how excited I was to see something like this, where the focus was on truly functional fitness. Training for “functional fitness” is something you hear all the time from the fitness industry, but something tells me the ability to do 50 one-legged squats on a Bosu ball, or 30 kipping pull-ups, or a single-arm yoga inversion does not necessarily translate into the functions of everyday life. But if an emergency strikes, like your plane goes down or you’re chased by a rabid hippo, and you are able to escape (and better yet, help others escape) to safety, I’d say whatever workouts you’re doing are pretty damn functional.
You can see the original article HERE, but the 5 markers of lifesaving fitness, as defined by Liederman, were as follows:
- Swim at least half a mile.
- Sprint at least 200 yards.
- Jump over an obstacle at least waist-high.
- Perform at least 15 consecutive chin-ups/pull-ups.
- Perform at least 25 consecutive dips.
It wasn’t clear whether these feats have to be performed consecutively in some kind of masochistic high-stakes Crossfit WOD, or if it’s a matter of of just being able to perform any of the physical feats listed.
Obviously this article was directed at men, but I couldn’t help but compare myself to these benchmarks.
- I can swim more than half a mile (but even the slowest granny bouncing around in her water-aerobics class could catch me, so that probably doesn’t count for much).
- I can sprint my little heart out for 200 yards (but again, I’m not too speedy).
- I’ve never tried jumping over any obstacles that high, but I did try out to be a hurdler in high school. I also left halfway through the first day of track tryouts, if that tells you anything…and they were the kind of tryouts where everyone makes the team. (After which I cam back for the day they held pole vaulting tryouts. I had exactly ZERO pole-vault experience. Why I thought it was a good idea- and, moreover, why I was not in the least embarrassed- is beyond me.)
- I’ve never done 15 chin-ups in a row, but I can do 12 chin-ups in a row for 4 sets, so that probably counts for something.
- I haven’t done dips in months (the shame…sorry, Dad…), but last I did, I could do 10 pretty comfortably.
Looks like I’ve got some room for improvement! Although, if you ask me, I think marksmanship and grappling should be added to the list of benchmarks. And maybe bareback riding, in case you need to jump up on a wild stallion and speed after a bad guy. (Or maybe I just watched too many John Wayne movies growing up…actually, false. You can never watch too many John Wayne movies.)
What about yall?
How do your abilities stack up against these benchmarks?
Would you be able to outrun that rabid hippo?