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14 Physical Challenges Everyone in Their 30s Should Be Able to Do

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In the most basic of nutshells, physical fitness can be measured by how quickly you get out of breath, how strong you are and your flexibility. With this in mind, we got hold of some experts in the fields of man-beasting and joint-bending to find out what the average guy should be capable of if he’s deemed to be in decent shape.

Alex Backhouse (alexbackhouse.com (opens in new tab)), trainer of UFC athletes, musicians, and solicitors alike reckons all 30-somethings should be able to pull these off.

1. Sprint up Three Flights of Stairs Without Feeling Like You’re Going to Puke

Tests: cardiovascular endurance, leg power

Leg it up 70 stairs as fast as possible. If you feel OK, congratulations, you’re not a complete spud. A brutally truthful measure of both leg and heart power, it doesn’t get much more embarrassing than having to catch your breath at the top of a few stairs in front of people.

RECOMMENDED: Take the Stairs

2. Bust out at Least 30 Press-ups in a Single Minute

Tests: power (generating your maximum strength in explosive movements), endurance

Still feel young and trendy, exploring the world of Instagram #fitspo? Well, you’re not too young and trendy to take it back to the old school. The press-up test is the exercise equivalent of the militant 70-year-old PE teacher: unforgiving.

Here’s Backhouse’s press-up standards:

  • Less than 10: your mother would disown you
  • 10-20: piss-poor
  • 20-30: needs work
  • 30-50: not too shabby
  • 50-70: athletic
  • More than 70: are you sure you’re doing them properly?

3. Complete at Least Half a Pistol Squat Without Looking Like You’re About to Fall off a Tightrope

Tests: leg strength, balance

Definitely as intense as it sounds. Most will get about halfway down before they have to return to standing. The elite among us will touch their arse to their heel, then smoothly pump themselves back up without wobbling everywhere. Just hitting 70% of the full squat takes a ton of control and leg strength, which you clearly have in abundance... right?

RECOMMENDED: Improve Your Balance

4. Get up from a Sitting Position and Immediately Sprint 50 Metres in Under 10 Seconds

Tests: speed, reaction time

Don't pretend you didn't watch Taken and think “Yeah, I could definitely save my daughter if need be”. Sorry to be the bringer of bad news but unless you could chase down a bunch of highly motivated human traffickers at a moment’s notice, you’re deluding yourself. While the adrenaline will power you through any injuries in real life, make sure you have a good dynamic warm up before trying this. Even Liam Neeson can’t hunt down nasty types with a torn quad.

The guys at our sister title Men’s Fitness spend most of their day in the office and the rest of it hanging out with the world’s coolest fitness experts in the world’s coolest gyms. Here are their musings based on their half-sedentary/half-superfit daily routine.

5. Hold a Chair L-sit for Five Seconds Without Soiling Yourself

Tests: core strength, core endurance

Hold this for more than five seconds and you know you have a core to be proud of – or at least not be ashamed of. Once you can hold it for 12 seconds then you can really start bragging; 30 seconds and you’re probably our best hope for gymnastic gold at Rio 2016. – Sam Rider, fitness editor

6. Complete a Lazy Vault in Order to Save Yourself Countless Hours of Searching for Gates

Tests: co-ordination, agility

Did you know 80% of men in their 30s spend at least two hours a week walking around a fence trying to find a gate? Obviously that’s a completely made-up stat but you should still be able to hop a fence because it looks cool, if nothing else. The ability to pull off this staple parkour technique, starting from touching distance from the fence, indicates acceptable co-ordination and agility. Hitting it from further away and from different angles is where the real test begins. – Sam Razvi, online writer

Miad Najafi is a registered osteopath, holding both a degree in physiology and the rank of black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, which means he knows a thing or two about human movement. According to him, these are good indicators of your flexibility.

7. Stand up from a Cross-Legged Sitting Position Without Using Your Hands

Tests: knee flexibility, core power, leg power

You don’t need to play an entire five-a-side game to find out if your knees are slacking – simply give this a go. If you can do it, happy days. If not, work on some squats to start generating some leg power and to stabilise those dodgy leg hinges of yours. If you have debilitatingly painful knees, get them checked out before doing any further exercise.

RECOMMENDED: 30 Day Squat Challenge

8. Straighten Your Legs at Least Halfway while Touching Your Chest to Your Thighs

Tests: flexibility

This test will give a truthful indication about the state of your hammies, and let’s face it, you should be able to easily bend down in your 30s. Most with healthy hams will get about as far as the guy in the gif, but if you can fully straighten your knees while keeping your chest tight to your thighs… well, you’re basically Superman.

Having trained over 2,000 clients from all walks of life, Chris Hall of Hall Training Systems (personaltraineroxford.com (opens in new tab)) has seen the lot. He’s adamant these are the moves all men need to nail if they want to call themselves fit.

9. Flawlessly Raise a Small Child onto Your Shoulders

Tests: co-ordination, power, speed

You may have started raising kids by your 30s (as in rearing the ones you’ve spawned, not just lifting up random children), and should be able to carry them with ease. Even if you don’t have any of your own yet, this is a great way to show your worthiness to procreate.

10. Fireman’s Carry Your Drunk Mate to a Taxi

Tests: strength, balance, cardiovascular endurance (heart efficiency), core strength, core endurance

No, your pal shouldn’t have got so hammered he can barely walk, but he’s your problem now and the least you can do is ferry him to safe transit home. If you can easily perform this move with your own bodyweight and then comfortably walk 20 metres and back, nice one. If not, head to the nearest rack and get on those deep, pause squats.

11. Carry the Week’s Food Shopping in One Trip

Tests: grip strength, muscular endurance

We don’t care how much there is, you should be able to carry it all in one go. OK, two trips are acceptable. Three or more means you need to get on those farmer’s walks in the gym.

12. The Loft Ladder Climb

Tests: balance, core strength

One of the best things about your 30s is that you’re more likely to live in a house, which means you’re more likely to have a loft. And with this great power comes great responsibility, because now it’s your job to clamber up a ladder to safely store stuff in said loft. Exciting times. You should have no problem carrying an awkward heavy box up there – if you can’t, well, maybe you don't even deserve a loft. Hit the Turkish get-up to train your body to deal with heavy loads and awkward movement.

13. Push-Start Your Car When the Battery (and All Hope) Dies

Tests: power

No-one should ever call the AA unless they’ve legitimately tried fixing the car. Even if you had no idea what problem you are looking for, at least pretend you do for five minutes. It’s the rules. This includes manually push-starting the damn thing. A seriously strong bloke will be able to push a small three-door 1.1-litre on his own or at least with one other guy (assuming the handbrake is off of course).

14. Crawl Under Your Bed to Get that Spider that Your Partner Swears Is Actually Massive

Tests: flexibility

Most 30-somethings will have spent at least a decade slugging away at a particular career. Whether that’s sitting on a chair most of the day or bending down to lay brick, our work forces our bodies into repetitive and potentially spine-stiffening routines. But a healthy guy should have no problem mobilising his whole body in one movement in order to save his partner, or himself, from a lurking arachnid.

Sam Razvi wrote for Men’s Fitness UK (which predated and then shared a website with Coach) between 2011 and 2016.