This article is partly written in response to the fitness test put out by Awake & Alive, great online fitness magazine, you should check it out, but not the fitness test! Respect to Mark de Grasse for what he’s done for unconventional training.
Everyone is looking for that one fitness test which tells them where they are compared to all other couch potatoes, gym go’ers, kettlebell swingers, runners or other fitness disciplines. Truth be told, there is not one test which gives you a 100% accurate answer, especially not a pull-up test, sorry, no disrespect intended, but putting out a fitness test which has one exercise to measure your fitness is absurd in my opinion, especially when choosing the pull-up as that one exercise, which is basically one of the hardest exercises to master for most people. For reference, I’m referring to the pull-up as the overhand wide grip latissimus dorsi driven exercise.
People walk, jog, run, jump, squat maybe even push themselves up in everyday life, but most people don’t pull unless they focus on pulling exercises in the gym, or have a job that involves pulling. Therefore, assigning one of the most difficult exercises to master as a test of fitness is not something one should give much credit to. Someone might be able to curl 80kg with one arm, sprint faster than a gazelle, do 100 unbroken push-ups but can’t do one pull-up.
Don’t get me wrong, the pull-up is the pinnacle of exercise, it’s a great exercise, but it’s not going to test your cardiovascular endurance unless you’re going to perform kipping pull-ups, neither is it going to test a wide variation of muscle groups, nor your flexibility and so on.
Testing fitness is much broader than just one exercise, and in my opinion true fitness is when you are capable to demonstrate abilities across all areas, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, strength, explosiveness, speed, agility, flexibility, proprioception, mind-muscle connection and mental toughness. If you want to measure true fitness you need to test across all those areas.
Therefore, if you wanted to do just one exercise, which is not what I’m recommending, but lets say we needed to choose just one exercise to test fitness, then it would be a jump burpee with hybrid push-up and hell, if we want to go crazy it would be a jump burpee hybrid push-up with pull-up! This will be able to test you across most of the areas mentioned above and includes many more muscle groups.
The number of reps you do demonstrates your cardiovascular endurance (if you do them fast and continuous) and mental toughness. How fast you do them demonstrates your speed, explosiveness, flexibility and agility. Your technique demonstrates proprioception and mind-muscle connection. There is more to it, but that’s that in a nutshell.
Like I said, I would only do that if I had to choose one exercise, and yes, in reality what I chose is really not just one exercise but several strung together, you got me.
To measure true general fitness, you need to test across all areas, this is not doable with just one exercise, you need to start sprinting, squatting, jumping, pulling, pressing, lifting, go for 1RM, go for endurance and so on.
I always test my clients across all areas unless there is a specific reason not to, and the test takes at least one hour, if I’m real serious about the test, I even split it up across two or more days. The test requires kettlebells, bodyweight, pull-up bar and an Olympic barbell depending on state of the subject.
I covered general fitness (GPP) of course there is also specific fitness which this article does not cover.
If you want to see a copy of the test on Cavemantraining then like and share this post, leave a comment below or on this facebook post, and with enough interest I’ll put it up as a PDF and maybe even a video.