When it comes to fitness in modern America, somehow, it’s become a contentious topic. From Sports Illustrated featuring Plus Size Models to the prevalence of the “Dadbod,” proper physical fitness is becoming lost in the mire of pop culture. People are being told to hop on a stationary bike and pedal their hearts out, using exercise as a balm for stress management. Being physically active isn’t all it takes to be physically fit. The ability to prepare for war in the modern world comes from something much deeper than the desire to look good naked.
A disturbing trend that has emerged in the fitness world is an ever-growing rate of suicide among younger, ostensibly fitter people. On the surface, they look like genetic specimens; however, continually, they’ve attained that impossible physique through artificial enhancements such as PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) and liberal yet thinly veiled plastic surgery. Worse, these cheap fixes are being used by people at younger and younger ages vying for those likes and follows.
For many, exercise is no longer a function of self-improvement. Instead, it is a means to an end they haven’t planned for or foreseen. Any endeavor without a goal in mind is fruitless and often dangerous. When used as stress management or a self-worth gauge, exercise is hazardous without clear parameters for success. This is where using exercise for physical conditioning and staying active later in an ever more sedentary world becomes a valuable and fun tool.
In America, the average person takes 5,117 steps per day. Approximately 2.5 miles. On paper, that seems like a pretty solid number. However, compared to the rest of the world, a broad delta must be considered. In Western Australia, the average is 9,965 steps, Switzerland is 9,650 steps, and Japan, even being as small a country as they are in terms of land mass, still comes in at a healthy 7,168. The old idiom of easy times creating soft men has never been more true. We look at physical conditions based on our national standards. Unfortunately, our national standards are abysmal compared to others worldwide.
If you want to be ready for the fight, measure yourself to those who are above average. Set your standards not to meet the basics. You should want to excel beyond the person next to you in the grocery store. How you get there also matters. Being mentally disciplined goes along with physical conditioning. Not only should you be setting progressive goals that are attainable, leading to your desired level of fitness, but you should also be disciplined enough to adhere to those standards you set for yourself. Personal accountability truly is a fundamental key to freedom.
There are a variety of standards you can hold yourself to in terms of fitness. Goals can be based on lifting weights, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, events, and various other options. The truth is when it comes to being fight-ready and exercising smartly. The formula is time-tested and easy to understand. If you can do 30-50 pushups without resting in the down position. 30-50 situps without resting with your back on the ground in 3 minutes or less. Run an 8-minute mile, and lift 1.5x your bodyweight in deadlifts.
Along with bench pressing your bodyweight (good form required for both lifts), you’re in good physical fighting shape. While these may seem like difficult goals to some, they all start in pieces. Cardiovascular fitness, for many, is the first place to start. All the strength in the world is meaningless if you don’t have the gas tank to fuel those muscles. We see an obsession with bigger and bigger muscles and leaner physiques in the modern world—both rob a person of their stamina in favor of looks or on-demand brute strength.
Fights are won over time. The person who runs out of gas first is often the loser. Neglecting strength, however, isn’t an option. Similarly, an obsession with cardiovascular fitness means you have an enormous gas tank but little-to-no ability to apply it as you are overpowered. A balance in all things is important and the metrics laid out above are solid building blocks.
Consider this as a fundamental guiding principle: Are you fighting for yourself first? The number one sign of healthy aging is bone and muscle density. Regular exercise has been proven to not only extend your lifespan but also improve your quality of life. Your physical condition can also be a source of confidence in the event of the worst-case scenario. Knowing that you can run flat out for 3 miles to get to your loved ones or that you can fight another person for an interminable 5 minutes straight gives a level of confidence that is difficult to replicate. Similarly, can you wield all your accumulated gear to take a burden off your loved ones? Since they are also physically active and conditioned, what load can they be expected to contribute?
Ultimately, nobody is coming to save you. You have to save yourself. You have to save your loved ones. The recent defensive shooting in Greenwood, Indiana, proves that you will have to be the one when the time comes to take it all into your own hands. Your physical condition can play a huge role in that scenario, and with all of the tools in terms of fitness and ready access to healthy food options, none of us have a viable excuse. Are you ready for war? Get off the computer, get outside and find out.