What does fitness look like to you?

If you had asked me this question a couple of years ago my answer would be completely different than it is now. The reason being, is that much like anything else in life, my perception of what it means to be fit has adapted and evolved and will continue to adapt and evolve.

In the fitness industry we commonly ask ourselves who is fitter? For the purpose of this post we’ll look at a couple of examples in the sporting world first. So, who is fitter? The NFL running back (Marshawn Lynch), the strongman who can load a 254kg stone for reps (Brian Shaw), the world record holder in the 100m sprint (Usain Bolt), the rock climber who free solo’d El Capitan (Alex Honnold),  or the current 3x Crossfit games male champion (Mat Fraser). 

Let’s continue this thought process by asking asking who is fitter? The person who is fit enough to perform all the required activities of their daily lives (for this purpose we will use an elderly individual), the person who is fit for their line of work (a fire fighter or police officer), the person who is fit to be a parent, or the person who is fit to lead (Insert whomever you think is a great leader here).   

In his book, Free+Style, Carl Paoli defines fitness as the ability to move in order to accomplish the specific tasks that make us successful in sport and in life. 

Because this definition involves the capacity to move in order to accomplish a specific task that makes us successful, we could argue that fitness or the state of being “fit” is context specific. Said another way, fitness depends on the task that you care to use to define your success. Therefore, the ultimate measure of whether you are successful or not will come down to your ability to perform the specific task that you use to define your level of success.

Brian Shaw, was fit for his task of loading a 254kg stone. Usain Bolt was fit for his task of sprinting 100m, Alex Honnold was fit enough to free solo El Capitan, and Matt Fraser has been crowned as the fittest man on earth three times while competing in the Crossfit games. All of these individual’s are fit for their task that they have chosen to measure their success by. 

But what about the person who is aspiring to be fit enough to accomplish the tasks that are associated with their day-to-day living? Or the person who wants to be fit enough for their line of work? Or the person who wants to be fit enough to lead a group, start a project, manage an organization? Or what about the person who wants to be fit enough to keep up with their kids and experience life and all of it’s wonders to the fullest?

Well, that’s where this definition of fitness really becomes not only context specific but also highly specific to each and every single individual. The level of fitness that required for an elderly individual to accomplish their activities of daily living is going to vary from that of the individual who is looking to be fit for their line of work, and so on and so forth.

The other thing to take into account is that the same elderly individual might want to be more than fit enough to accomplish the tasks associated with daily living, they might want to be fit enough to still get outside at the age of 80+ years old and do a full send on a 20km hike through the mountains. What about the mom who wants to be fit enough to be the best parent she can be who might also want to be fit enough to get her first muscle up or to run a marathon?

Regardless of the context, it’s quite valuable to get in touch with what it is that we truly want to be fit for. This is important for so many reasons, one of which is that it allows us to truly find a program that aligns with our goals and our needs as individuals. Our fitness or our ‘state’ of being fit to accomplish a task lies on a continuum and changes as we do.

No, I’m not saying that you need to up and leave your gym or leave the box that you are currently training at. What I’m suggesting is that you look at your training from a different perspective- one that encompasses looking at your current state of being fit enough to accomplish the task that you use to measure your level of success by and to evaluate whether or not your currently trending towards being able to accomplish that thing.

So, what are you getting fit for and are you succeeding at it?

Day 1:

A) Back Squat: Build to a heavy 8RM

B) Good Morning: 3 x 8 @ 75% of 1RM or 7.5/10 RPE

C) 5 Rounds for Quality

I) 10 Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: Heavy

II) 20m Sled Push: Heavy Grinder

III) 10 Goblet Squats: Heavy

Day 2

A1) Strict Press: 4 x 8 @ 70% 1RM or 7.5/10 rpe

A2) Strict Pull-up: 4 x 8 @ 8/10 rpe

B1) Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 x 8 @ Rpe 8/10

B2) Bent Over Barbell Row: 3 x 8 @ Rpe 8/10

C1) 4 Rounds for quality

I) 100m Farmers Carry: Heavy i.e. upwards of 50% bw in each hand

II) 10 Dumbbell Push Press: 22.5kg/15kg

III) 10 Dumbbell Renegade Rows: 22.5kg/15kg


Day 3

A) Deadlift: Build to a 6rm

B1) Reverse Lunge: 3 x 6-8/leg @ rpe of 7.5/10

B2) Stagger Stance Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: 3 x 6-8 @ rpe of 7.5/10

C) 5 Rounds for quality of:

I) 15 Box Jumps

II) 10 Dumbbell Deadlifts: Heavy

III) 15 Wallballs: 9/6kg