Have you ever wondered how fit you really are?
One of my goals each year is to get into the best shape of my life for my birthday. For years, I had no official way to measure this. It was just a subjective pursuit.
So, I decided to create The Ultimate Fitness Test. It consists of a group of events across four key dimensions of physical fitness.
In this article, you will learn what The Ultimate Fitness Test is and how to complete it. The end of the article also includes some tools and resources to help you compare your results with other people in your peer group (for age and gender).
Four Key Dimensions of Physical Fitness
Many fitness enthusiasts are one-dimensional with their workout program. They focus on one kind of activity and neglect or ignore some key dimensions of physical fitness. For example, some people just focus on cardiovascular endurance and run, bike, or swim. Others just focus on muscular strength and lift heavy weights.
The Ultimate Fitness Test levels the playing field and measures your all-around physical fitness. The test features events across the following four dimensions of physical fitness:
- Body composition: the percentage of lean mass vs. fat on your body
- Athleticism and speed: your physical coordination and ability to move your body quickly
- Pound-for-pound muscular strength: your ability to lift heavy weight relative to your size
- Cardiovascular endurance: your ability to tax your cardiovascular system for an extended period of time
Very few people are above-average on all of these important dimensions of physical fitness.
How to Complete The Ultimate Fitness Test
All of the events in The Ultimate Fitness Test should be performed in one day. It’s up to you how long to take in between the different events. No matter what you decide, you will likely need to complete the events at more than one location. Follow these four steps:
Step 1: Weigh-in and measure your body composition.
The Ultimate Fitness Test begins with a weigh-in and body composition analysis. It’s important to start here because your body weight will be used to calculate your weights for the strength movements that come later in the test.
You can measure your body fat with skinfold calipers or through a body fat testing device. Just be careful with body fat testing devices, as some are much better than others. My favorite body fat testing device is the InBody. It’s definitely not cheap though. Rather than buying your own, you will likely want to visit a gym that owns one.
- You can click here to find an InBody testing location near you.
- You can click here for a body fat calculator if you are using calipers.
Do your weigh-in and body fat analysis on an empty stomach. Then, fuel up and hydrate. Leave yourself at least one hour to digest before moving on to Step 2.
Step 2: Measure your athleticism and speed.
You will likely want to do the second part of the test at a running track. The only equipment required is a tape measure, a stopwatch, and some colored chalk. Do a good warm-up for 10-15 minutes before you start. Then, complete the following activities in this order (with a break in between):
- Maximum Vertical Jump
- 100-Meter Sprint
Note: Directions for these events and the others in the test are included further down on this page.
Step 3: Measure your pound-for-pound muscular strength.
Do the third part of the test at a location where you will have a barbell, weight plates, and a flat bench. Complete another warm-up session and then complete the following exercises (with breaks in between):
- Maximum reps (one set) for barbell squat with 1.25 times your bodyweight (for men) or 1 times your body weight (for women)
- Maximum reps (one set) for barbell bench press with your body weight (for men) or 0.6 times your body weight (for women)
- Maximum reps (one set) for barbell deadlift with 1.5 times your bodyweight (for men) or 1.25 times your body weight (for women)
- Maximum reps (one set) for pull-ups (or chin-ups) with your bodyweight
Step 4: Measure your cardiovascular endurance.
You can complete the fourth part of the test at a running track or on a treadmill. If you use a treadmill, set the incline to one percent to simulate running outside. Complete another warm-up session and then run one mile as fast as possible.
Directions and Rules for the Events
Here are some directions and rules for the events in The Ultimate Fitness Test:
Maximum Vertical Jump:
- Put some colored chalk on your fingers.
- Stand next to a wall and reach as high as you can with one arm while keeping both feet planted.
- The highest point that you can reach (don’t cheat!) is your starting point. Make note of that height.
- Then, reapply some chalk.
- Get a running start and jump and touch as high as possible on the same wall.
- The difference between the two heights is your Maximum Vertical Jump.
- Have a friend stand 100 meters away and time you with a stopwatch.
- Run 100 meters as fast as possible on a running track.
- Set up a barbell with 1.25 times your body weight (for men) or 1 times your body weight (for women). For example, a 180-pound man would squat 225 pounds, which is 90 pounds on each side of a 45-pound barbell.
- Use a spotter (or two) for safety.
- Complete as many reps as possible in one set, without stopping for more than 1-2 seconds between reps.
- Your thighs must reach parallel to the ground (or lower) at the bottom of each rep. Partial reps do not count.
- Bouncing reps are not allowed. You must control the weight at all times.
Barbell Bench Press:
- Set up a barbell with your body weight (for men) or 0.6 times your body weight (for women). For example, a 180-pound man would bench 180 pounds, which is 67.5 pounds on each side of a 45-pound barbell.
- Use a spotter for safety.
- Complete as many reps as possible in one set.
- The bar must touch your chest at the bottom of each rep.
- Your arms must lock out at the top of each rep. Partial reps do not count.
- Bouncing the bar off your chest is not allowed. You must control the weight at all times.
- Avoid rounding your lower back as well.
- Set up a barbell with 1.5 times your body weight (for men) or 1.25 times your body weight (for women). For example, a 180-pound man would deadlift 270 pounds, which is 112.5 pounds on each side of a 45-pound barbell.
- Complete as many reps as possible in one set.
- The barbell must start on the ground.
- You can use any hand grip and foot stance that you want during your set.
- The bar must come within 3 inches of the ground (or touch the ground) at the bottom of each rep.
- You are not allowed to drop the weight and/or reset your grip between reps. You must hold and control the weight at all times.
- You must stand up straight at the top of each rep. Partial reps do not count.
- You are not allowed to rest the bar on your thighs during or in between reps.
Body Weight Pull-Ups (or Chin-Ups):
- Your palms can face away from you (pull-ups) or face toward you (chin-ups).
- Regardless of your grip, you must begin in a “dead-hang” with your arms fully extended, your body hanging motionless, and your feet not touching the ground.
- Your chin must go above the bar at the top of each rep.
- You must extend your arms fully at the bottom of each rep.
- Kipping or using your legs is not allowed.
- Complete as many reps as possible in one set.
- There is no time limit, and you can rest as long as you want in between reps (as long as your feet do not touch the ground and both hands stay on the bar).
Scoring System for Men
Below is a scoring table for men that I created for The Ultimate Fitness Test. You would have to be a total freak of nature to achieve the maximum score of 100.
Scoring System for Women
Here is a scoring system for women who want to try The Ultimate Fitness Test.
My Top Score on The Ultimate Fitness Test
I did The Ultimate Fitness Test the day after my 40th birthday. Here are my results:
- Weight: 173.7 pounds
- Body composition: 8.9% body fat percentage
- Max vertical jump: 34 inches
- 100-meter sprint: 12.5 seconds
- Max reps for barbell squats: 20 reps with 220 pounds
- Max reps for barbell deadlifts: 14 reps with 260 pounds
- Max reps for barbell bench press: 17 reps for 175 pounds
- Max reps for chin-ups: 20 reps
- Mile time: 5:48
My score was 80.45 (out of 100).
Summary and Additional Resources
The Ultimate Fitness Test measures your physical fitness across four important dimensions. Very few people are above-average on each of the following:
- Body composition
- Athleticism and speed
- Pound-for-pound muscular strength
- Cardiovascular endurance
You can determine your all-around fitness level (and any potential gaps) by completing the following eight events. Track your results over time to measure your progress:
- Body composition analysis
- Maximum vertical jump
- Timed 100-meter sprint
- Maximum reps for barbell squat with 1.25 times your bodyweight (for men) or 1 times your body weight (for women)
- Maximum reps for barbell bench press with your body weight (for men) or 0.6 times your body weight (for women)
- Maximum reps for barbell deadlift with 1.5 times your bodyweight (for men) or 1.25 times your body weight (for women)
- Maximum reps for pull-ups (or chin-ups) with your bodyweight
- Timed one-mile run
Here are some additional resources if you want to see how your scores compare to other people in your peer group (for age and gender):
- Body composition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_fat_percentage
- Max vertical jump: http://theexercisers.com/how-to-increase-vertical-jump/average-vertical-jump/
- 100-meter sprint: http://www.mastersathletics.net/index.php?id=2595
- Muscular strength: https://strengthlevel.com/
- One-mile run: https://runninglevel.com/running-times/1-mile-times
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About the author: Pete Leibman is the Creator of StrongerHabits.com. He is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, executive recruiter, athlete, and peak performance coach. His work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and CNNMoney.com, and over 500,000 people across the world have read his articles.