by Niall Doherty

From Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker:

To be fit is to be able to drag or carry an unconscious adult out of a burning house on one, maybe two gulps of air. Alternatively, it’s to outsprint a dog, given a head start, and climb over a 7ft wall. To be fit is to be able to fight and defeat anyone who can outrun you and outrun anyone you can’t defeat.

I like this concept of fitness, dubbed functional fitness by Fisker. The emphasis is on training your body and mind so you’re better equipped to handle life-threatening situations. Big biceps aren’t worth much in a street fight. A flat stomach doesn’t help you clean and dress a leg wound. Well-defined pecs won’t help you perform CPR.

So I’m thinking of an epic fitness challenge that will last the duration of 2013: A quest for functional fitness.

I’m still trying to come up with specific measures that I can aim for. I’d like to end up with a solid dozen before the new year hits. Ultimately I’d test myself on everything during the final week of 2013 or the first week of 2014, see how I fare.

Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with. Note that the numbers are just uneducated guesses at this point. I’ll need to do a good chunk of research over the coming weeks and figure out what’s realistic for me.

  1. First aid: Pass a fundamental first aid course, including basic CPR training.
  2. Running/Speed: Run 100 meters in 13 seconds or less.
  3. Running/Endurance: Run 10k in 45 minutes or less.
  4. Climbing: Improve starting rock climbing grade by at least 5 levels.
  5. Climbing: Climb over a wall a foot taller than me in 3 seconds or less (standing start/finish).
  6. Swimming: Swim 1k in open water in 20 minutes or less.
  7. Swimming: Pass a fundamental lifeguard training course.
  8. Lung capacity: Hold breath under water for one minute while swimming at least 25m.
  9. Flexibility1: Achieve side split.
  10. Flexibility: Achieve forward bend with palms resting on the ground.
  11. Balance: Cross a 3m slack line.
  12. Strength/Balance: Walk 3m on hands.
  13. Strength: Squat, bench and deadlift my own body weight.
  14. Strength: Be able to pull myself up onto an overhanging ledge, no leg support.
  15. Falling: Learn how to land safely when jumping/falling from a height of 3+ meters (like this guy).
  16. Jumping: Hurdle three consecutive obstacles at waist height.
  17. Self-defense: I have a crazy idea for this one that would involve me becoming a bouncer for a month in an Australian night club, but open to other suggestions. I’d like to learn about and train in street fighting and other practical means of self-defense, not just traditional martial arts. I’m digging the kind of stuff Jeff Anderson teaches. This would be way out there for me though. I’ve never been in a fight in my life.

Happy to hear all thoughts on this idea, but specifically I’d love feedback along the following lines:

  • Would you modify any of the functional fitness measures/challenges I’ve listed above?
  • What would you add to the list?

I should note that I’m in pretty good physical shape already. I could probably run a 10k in 45 minutes with just a week of training (my best ever time was 40:05). I’m about 6-2, 190lbs. The toughest parts of this challenge for me would likely be the strength and flexibility training. Oh, and learning how to get punched in the face.

I’m also under no illusion that I’ll achieve mastery in any one area. The whole point of this is to stop sucking in many areas, learn the basics of many kinds of fitness, and hopefully give me a better chance to survive the impending zombie apocalypse 2.

Would also love to have a few folks join me in the pursuit of similar functional fitness goals throughout the year. Up for it?

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I know flexibility alone is unlikely to save my life, but improving in this area would surely help with some of the others.
  2. Speaking of which.