ROTTERDAM – Talk about bad timing. I fucked up my back last week, and now they want me to do the Marine Corps Fitness Test. Rest assured, I will do it (eventually) when I don’t have to bend through my knees to pick something off the ground.
Anyways, I was wondering when this would come along. We’ve been focusing a lot on mind and character in the last 24 days. Themes like independence, strength, autonomy, and assertiveness have run through most of the posts I have written about.
We haven’t covered anything related to the physical nature of the Modern Man. This physical nature of masculinity can usually be found near the very core of the concept. After all, having a dominant, independent, and assertive manly character can only get you so far. If you are not physically imposing in one way or another, you being dominant and “manly” doesn’t really get translated to the external world very convincingly.
Mind you, the comparison with the appearance-focused generic definition of femininity is easily made. After all, being fit is both found attractive for men and women. However, for women, appearance sometimes is the goal itself while for men it is a means. Women have to be pretty, like a vase of flowers, or a beautiful painting. That’s why feminists constantly talk about the objectification of women. A muscular man, however, can use his impressive physique for more functional purposes.
This, however, is not really the case anymore. I go to the gym 3-4 times a week. When I am there, I see lots of guys lifting very heavy weights like 5 times. You get muscles from that. You look imposing. However, you can only lift something heavy 5 times, which is not really functional. Say your friend asks you to help him move, and you tell him that you can lift that heavy box for 2-3 seconds, and you can do that 5 times. Carrying a fridge upstairs requires a bit more than pumped-up muscles.
Although I’m sure all those guys are a lot stronger than I am, the point I’m making is that these fitness geeks (which, by the way, includes myself nowadays) work out for aesthetic purposes, not functional ones. Which makes us as appearance-based as a woman on a diet pills, really.
However, even working out for the purposes of looking good on the beach or in the bedroom obviously is preferable to no working out at all. And we’ve let ourselves go.
By “we”, I mean most readers of this blog and your fellow countrymen and women. Here’s a map on worldwide obesity. Some of the data is from a couple of years ago, but it does illustrate how a fat (ha!) percentage of the world’s population is obese. That’s not chubby or having some cushin’ for the pushin’; they’re overweight.
I checked out that map and the percentage points difference between men and women is negligible in most countries. We’re as fat (don’t feel personally attacked now; I’m not fat either and it’s a metaphorical “we”). However, for the Art of Manliness, this problem is emphasized as a manly problem:
Unfortunately, for the past few decades, the fitness level of men, particularly American men, has been going down hill. With cars replacing walking as the primary mode of transportation and desk jobs replacing manual labor, men have become more and more sedentary.
.. I imagine this is true. We’re slowly working our way up to those fat people in Wall-E. Quite some people (including myself here) tell themselves they are still in acceptable shape. When I was 18 I could easily run for an hour or so without really getting tired. I am now working my way back to that and it’s been taking me almost 2 months. So, in order to confront ourselves with our lack of fitness,
we’re going to give ourselves a gut check by taking a physical fitness test. And not just any physical fitness test. We’re taking the U.S. Marine Corps Fitness Test.
This is about the manliest test for physical condition there is, I reckon. Now, this Marine Corps test
consists of three exercises: pull-ups, crunches, and a 3.0 mile run. The events are designed to test the strength and stamina of the upper body, midsection, and lower body, as well as the efficiency of the cardiovascular system.
All the exercises are to be performed in one single session, not to exceed two hours. Since it’s just you who’s doing the test and not an entire squadron of Marines, it should take you about an hour.
Okay. One hour.
Exercise 1: Pull-ups
To begin the test, grab the bar, both palms facing either forward or towards you. I would do it palms facing towards you. It’s easier that way.
The correct starting position begins with your arms fully extended beneath the bar and your feet off the ground.
One rep consists of raising the body with the arms until the chin is above the bar and then lowering your body until your arms are fully extended. The object of this test is to measure your performance from a dead hang position. Thus, whipping, leg kicking, or leg kipping are not allowed and pull-ups using these assistance methods do not count.
You don’t have a time limit to perform your pull-ups, but as soon as you let go, the test is over.
Exercise 2: Abdominal Crunches
The ab crunch test has a two minute limit. Perform as many crunches as you can in two minutes.
Cross your arms across your chest or rib cage with no gap existing between the arms and chest/rib cage. Both arms must remain in constant contact with the chest/rib cage throughout the exercise. A single repetition consists of raising your upper body from the starting position until both forearms or elbows simultaneously touch the thighs, and then returning to the starting position with the shoulder blades touching the ground.
Your butt must remain in constant contact with the ground.
Exercise 3: 3.0 Mile/ 5 Km Run
Time yourself with a stopwatch to see how fast you can run 3.o miles. Run as fast as you can.
Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test Scoring
Each Marine is given a numeric score based on his performance in each event. Based on the total points of the three events, a Marine will be assigned to a physical fitness test class. First class being the highest and third class being the lowest. In order to get the highest possible score on the test you’d have to perform 20 pull-ups, do 100 crunches in 2 minutes, and run 3 miles in 18:00 minutes. Below are a series of charts that shows how scoring and class are determined:
|Class||Age 17-26||Age 27-39||Age 40-45||Age 46+|
Minimum Fitness Requirements
The Department of the Navy has established minimum fitness requirements for all Marines depending on their age to ensure that they’re ready for combat. Most of us probably won’t see action in Afghanistan, but if you can meet the fitness requirements for these tests, you’ll know that you have the physical condition to take on most of life’s challenges. The minimum requirements below would give a soldier enough points to meet a class three standard.
So.. according to this table, my absolute minimum would be: 3 pull-ups (15 points), 50 crunches (50 points), and running 5km in 28:00 minutes (40 points), which would make the total score 105 points, not 135. That’s slightly strange.
Seriously, though. This is pretty hardcore. But, I’m going to give it my best shot, see how far I get.
Man-meter: this is a nice challenge. I am a bit competitive so I guess that makes it manly, right?