You’re probably less fit than you once were. That’s part of growing older, becoming a parent, life. But how far have your strength standards gone from your high school glory days? And, just how hard do you need to hit the kettlebells to get back into a reasonable shape.
To help you figure out where you stand and which weight-loss exercises or core-sculpting exercises you need to take on, we developed a test of everyday things you do and their gym equivalent. Dads of a certain age can remember the Presidential Fitness Test as a high school rite of passage; think of this as your next trial, just a few decades later and a few pounds heavier.
Sit and Reach
Gold star: You can retrieve all game pieces within two inches of your outstretched legs.
Certificate of completion: You can reach any pieces that are at your feet or closer.
Flexibility in your lower back and hamstring muscles is key to keeping you from injuring yourself while chasing a toddler around the house. How much mobility do you have in yours? In the national standardized version of this test, every inch you can reach beyond your toes from a straight-leg seated position earns you points. Here’s the dad twist: measure your ability to sit on the floor holding your child’s toys in one hand while trying to retrieve the checkers or game pieces tossed past your feet with the other arm.
Gold star: You can jump 2’ to 2.5’ higher than you can reach standing still.
Certificate of completion: You can jump a foot and a half higher than you can reach.
Vertical skills are an excellent test of mobility and leg strength. Start from a standing position. Holding a piece of chalk in your hand, reach that arm up straight against the wall, making a small chalk mark at the highest point you can reach. Now, from the same standing position, crouch down then jump as high as you can, again leaving a small chalk mark at the top of your jump. Use a tape measure to determine the distance between these two points.
Gold star: Anything greater than 7.5 feet.
Certificate of completion: 7.3 feet to 7.5 feet
Draw a start line with a piece of chalk. Stand on it. Swing both arms back, bend your knees, and leap forward with all your might. Mark where you land and measure the distance. Anything greater than 7.5 feet is ideal, but note: Even if you hit the gold standard, if your child’s railroad spans 7.4 feet in your living room, we still wouldn’t recommend trying to leap it.
Deadlift: 1 rep max
Gold star: >300 pounds
Certificate of completion: 275 to 300
The U.S. Army thinks your should be able lift a lot more than you weigh, and in truth, that crib and baby furniture you lugged into the nursery probably proves their point. But what you really want to know is: Next Christmas, when the family goes to that bitter cold tree farm and gets all excited to chop down their own blue spruce to decorate for the holidays, will you have the fortitude to lift it from the ground and carry it to the car? If this is a piece of cake for you, you get a gold star: Most 9-foot balsam firs cut in the wild weigh around 300 pounds.
Gold star: 35 or more in one minute
Certificate of completion: 25 to 35
You have exactly one minute while your child is distracted with his match cars to do as many push-ups as you can, before they start climbing on you. Go! The industry standard for super-fit guys 45 and under is to do one push-up every 1.5 seconds, meaning 45 in one minute, but 35 is still excellent.
Gold star: 50 feet or more
Certificate of completion: More than 40 feet
Take yourself and a basketball out to the driveway. From a standstill, hoist that pup over and behind your head with both arms, then heave it as far into the distance as you can manage. You can get all technical with a tape measure to see exactly how far it went, or you can take small baby steps from start to landing spot and figure each one is about a foot. Sure, it’s a test of arm and back strength. But it’s also a useful skill for, say, tossing diapers into the trash can without having to cross the room.
Gold star: 60 seconds
Certificate of completion: 30 seconds (also, incidentally, how long you’ll need to do this in a field sobriety test given by an angry police officer)
You probably think nothing of it these days, but a lot of what you do as a dad requires balance. Or at least, a lot of what you do would get easier if you had good balance. Carrying groceries while being pulled by the dog, while pushing your kid’s stroller and holding her bottle with your briefcase in the other hand: Your life is literally a juggling act. To see where you stack up on balance, stand straight, feet together, arms relaxed by your sides. Lift one foot off the ground and hold the position for as long as you can. Repeat on opposite foot.