5 Fitness Benchmarks Every Man Must Master

How do you know when your fitness is on point? The following guidelines are a good place to start as an indication of where you stand. If these benchmarks seem out of reach, it’s okay. Just pick the one that works best for you and get back in the game!

Strength is one of the most important factors in survival. It is also a factor that not many men have mastered. Here are 5 benchmarks every man must master to be successful in life. Read more in detail here: strength benchmarks.

men's adventure magazine cover

We’ve chosen to reprint a vintage essay each Friday to assist our younger readers discover some of the greatest, evergreen jewels from the past, with our archives currently totaling over 3,500 items. The original version of this story was published in September 2009.

Earle Liederman, a strong guy and physical culture lover, published Endurance in 1926. In it, Liederman makes the argument for developing all-around strength and fitness as a means of not just conserving one’s health in the daily sense of prolonging lifespan, but also safeguarding one’s health in extreme and life-threatening situations. 

Liederman claims that:

Every man should be capable of resuscitating himself. In an emergency, he should be able to swim far enough and run fast and long enough to preserve his life. He should also be able to chin himself a decent number of times, dip a reasonable number of times, and leap a suitable height and distance.

If he is of the fat, porpoise kind, he obviously cannot accomplish all, if any, of these things; he has only himself to blame, and it is his manner of life that has caused his body to become obese.

Let’s say there’s a fire at sea, on a lake, or in a river; if one is half a mile or more from the coast, he’d be grateful to know that if he had to leap for his life to escape the fire, he could swim that distance and reach the land safely.

If one were trapped in a burning building and had to lower himself hand over hand down a rope or an improvised line made of bedclothes knotted together to reach safety, he would be grateful a thousand times over that he had the strength and endurance in his arms and coordination muscles to rescue himself. Such atrocities may never happen, and let us pray they don’t, but what has occurred in the past can and can happen again—and is happening to someone right now.

Liederman maintained that although “not everyone should want to be a long distance swimmer, a long distance runner, or any form of endurance athlete,” every male should be able to meet the following five fitness benchmarks:

Swim a minimum of half a mile.

Illustration of a swimming man.

Two hundred yards or more at full pace

Vintage men sprinting in the race.

Overcome barriers that are higher than his waist

African man jumping over hurdles.

At least fifteen to twenty times, pull his torso forward with the power of his arms until his chin contacts his hands.

Vintage man enjoying while doing pull ups in doorway.

Dip at least twenty-five times between parallel bars or between two seats.

Illustration of parallel bar dip gymnast.

If he can do these things, he won’t have to worry about his life being in danger if he is placed into a situation where he may be the only one who can rescue himself.

Listen to Dan John’s podcast on the physical milestones that every guy should achieve: 





The “how strong should a man be” is a question that has been debated for centuries. There are many different opinions on the matter, but if you want to get the most out of your fitness routine, these benchmarks will help you reach your goals.

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