Assume a pushup position with your hands directly below your shoulders, your feet hip-width apart, your weight resting on your hands and toes, and your body in a straight line from neck to ankles. Lower your body until your chest is about an inch above the floor, pause for 1 second (this is essential), and then return to the starting position. Complete as many consecutive pushups as you can while maintaining strict form.
Below average fewer than 15 pushups
Average 16 to 29 pushups
Above average 30 to 44 pushups
MH Fit 45+ pushups
Reach the Next Level
You can boost your pushup performance by doing just two workouts a week, Rooney says. The first day, do 6 sets of 10 pushups: two sets using regular form, two sets with your feet elevated on a bench, and two sets with your hands close together. Rest two minutes between sets.
The second day, do three sets of 20 to 25 pushups (or as many as you can), resting 90 seconds between sets. After the three sets, rest for three to five minutes, and then do one set of as many pushups as you can.
Retake the test after eight weeks.
Part Two: Upper Body
Just as the bench press has replaced the pushup in many exercise programs, so has the lat pulldown replaced the chinup. And that's a shame. Both exercises hit the featured muscles in the upper and middle back—the lats, lower trapezius, and rear deltoids—but the chinup goes lower and deeper. Because you're hanging from a bar rather than sitting on a padded seat, you force muscles in your middle back to work with the muscles in your hips and lower back to keep your spine in a safe position. "Chinups are a great test of upper-body strength and endurance, core stability, and spinal stabilization," Cosgrove says. Pulldowns are certainly easier, but as with so many things in life, limited effort produces limited rewards.
Grab a chinup bar using a shoulder-width, underhand grip. Hang at arm's length. Pull your chest up to the bar, pause for 1 second, and then slowly lower your body back to the starting position and repeat. A repetition counts only if you start from a dead hang with your arms straight.
Below average fewer than 3 chinups
Average 3 to 7 chinups
Above average 8 to 10 chinups
MH Fit over 10 chinups
Reach the Next Level
Cosgrove recommends doing this routine twice a week: Start with half the number of chinups you were able to complete in the test (round up to the nearest whole number), and do three or four sets in each workout. So if you did 5 or 6 in the test, you'll do sets of three. Rest 90 seconds between sets. Each week, cut 15 seconds from your rest period. That means in week 7 you'll do one continuous set of as many chinups as you can. Whatever that total is, it'll be much bigger than the number of chinups you completed in the test.
Part Three: Cardio
No movement is more fundamental to human survival. Yet running is still misunderstood by many. Most of us know that running is an aerobic activity, meaning that we use oxygen to release the fuel we need to keep moving forward. (Sprints, on the other hand, are anaerobic; you're working too fast for your muscles to use oxygen, so you have to rely on chemicals within your muscles to provide energy.) But it's also a test of the endurance of your muscles themselves, says Joe Dowdell, C.S.C.S., owner of Peak Performance in New York City. A champion swimmer, for example, might have off-thechart aerobic capacity in the pool, but on the road he's no better than the rest of us unless he also conditions his legs to pound the pavement.
The mile run tests you in both areas. You need aerobic fitness to complete the distance in a reasonable time, and you need muscular fitness to ensure that your legs keep going.