Fitness Benchmarks and Goals

What you get by reaching your goals is not nearly as important as what you become by reaching themZig Ziglar

What is a benchmark?
A benchmark is a standard by which something can be measured or judged.

Why use benchmarks?
A benchmark allows us to know whether something is performing well or not. In our case, it allows us to know how well we are doing in a particular activity. From that, we can decide what we should be working towards.

Fitness benchmarks help you

  • set realistic goals
  • track your progress
  • stay motivated

Who Uses Benchmarks?
Various organisations such as police departments, the military and sports teams, have fitness tests to select candidates for jobs that need the ability to perform specific tasks. I did a brief Internet research on various fitness benchmarks and came up with the figures below.

Many of the figures were not categorised by age or gender. This may mean that the benchmarks may be too tough for some, or too easy for others. Don’t let this worry you, these are simply guidelines. In real life, however, situations do not categorise the people caught up in them. You may need to run, or climb or lift, whether you are 21 or 46 years old.

I have included multiple score expectations simply to show a bit of the range of numbers that exist. For us we can simply adjust these benchmarks and use them as something to aim for, or as something to measure ourselves against. Just do the best you can, as long as it truly is your best.

Most fitness tests had the following elements:

  • 1.5 mile run, timed
  • 300m run, timed
  • Situps in a minute
  • Pushups – maximum, not timed
  • Vertical jump
  • Pull-ups – maximum, not timed
  • Swim
  • Squat
  • Sit and reach

The requirements or average findings can be summarised as follows
300m Run
70 Seconds
78.4 seconds
300 yards (274m) in under a minuteĀ  for men, which translates to 300m in about 66sec
Average: 70 seconds

1.5 mile (2.4km) run
Average 13:27

Pushups to test upper body strength.
15 in 2 minutes
18 in a row
18 in a minute for females aged 29
26 for men
29 in 1 minute
33 in 1 minute – age 29 male
6 to 19 for males depending on age
5 to 11 for females depending on age
17 to 21 for men
13 to 19 for women
Average: 18

Situps in a minute – to test abdominal or trunk strength.
18 to 35 for men – in 1 minute
11 to 29 for female – in 1 minute
20 – in a row.
24 sit-ups
25 Reps in 1 minute
40 sit-ups in a minute – age 29 male
35 sit-ups in a minute – age 29 female
38 in 1 minute
Average: 28

Squat to measure lower body strength.
15 to 27 for men
9 to 21 for females
Average 18

Vertical Jump to measure leg explosive power.
12 for female
14 inches
15 inches
16 inches for male
20 inches – male

Jump over obstacles higher than his waist

10 in a row.
15 pull-ups

400m swim and 2 minute treading water.
Swim at least half a mile (805m)
Swim 500 yards (457m) in 12 min – men
Only 2/100 Americans can swim 1/4 mile (about 400m) without stopping

Sit and Reach to measure flexibility.
Sit and reach of 16.5
men 0 to 2 inches
women 0.5 to 4 inches

According to the American Council on Exercise, the average man who is over 40 can walk a 16.5 to 19 minute mile, while the average woman can do it in 17 to 19.5 minutes.