Most of the time, comparing yourself to others isn’t a good thing.
Looking through too many magazines with photoshopped, perfect bodies, measuring your own athletic abilities against those of super-trained, superhuman athletes—these types of comparisons can motivate you to push stronger, harder, faster—or they may cause you to lose all hope and give up all together.
But if you’re anything like me, you need some type of comparison to give you a sense of how fit you really are.
Back when you were in high school or junior high and played on a sports team or two (if you did play high school sports, of course), it was easy to figure out how fit you were. You knew whether you were good by how often you started on the basketball team, how often other players passed to you on the soccer field, how fast your 400 meter sprint was compared to the rest of the track team.
But these days, unless you play in an adult sports league of some sort, it’s a lot harder to figure it out. In fact, the closest example to a sports team is probably attending fitness classes, where you’re either able to compare yourselves to the other students, or if you’re extra advanced, the instructor.
Doing this allows you to not only get a better sense of how hard you should be pushing yourself, but it also gives you an idea of how good of shape you’re really in.
But since not everyone does CrossFit or attends fitness classes on a regular basis, it’s not always this simple. Because if you work out alone, you may have no idea how to assess your own fitness level.
So how do you figure out how fit you are if you work out by yourself?
It’s relatively simple: you have to give yourself challenges, and test yourself every month or so to see how you’re doing. Then, you can compare your scores against others who have done the same challenge to get a better sense of your fitness level compared to the rest of the world.
Testing your fitness level with mini challenges
These are some of my favorite challenges to test my own strength, endurance and overall fitness level. Of course, you’re free to come up with your own—you’ll notice, for example, that I didn’t include any running/sprinting in the challenges below. There’s no real reason why other than it’s not something I do often myself.
Try these challenges out on your own, then get your friends and family members to do them so you can start comparing your abilities to one another and pushing each other to work harder and faster.
Work as hard as you can during each mini challenge, then repeat this once a month (or more) to see how much fitter you’re getting. If you’re working hard enough, you should notice progressive gains over time.
How to do the challenges
Get your timer and set it to count down for one minute. Then, do as many reps as you can of the following exercises in that minute. Take a 10-30 second break, then move on to the next exercise.
Feel free to do the challenges in any order you like:
(Not sure how to do one or more of these exercises? Click on the links above for a short video.)
Do 100 Burpees as fast as possible.
This is one of the best ways to test your endurance level. It may sound intimidating at first, but you can do it if you put your mind to it!
Want to know how I did? Here are my scores for these mini challenges:
Air squats: 54
Push ups: 34
High knees: 206
Sit ups (using this ab mat): 32
Squat jumps: 39
Handstand push ups: 22
Tuck jumps: 95
Chin ups: 23
Box jumps: 26
100 burpees: 7:19
Work hard, and don’t forget to have some fun while you’re at it!