🥇 Community Challenge: The 1-Mile Fitness Test for Lifters

I randomly take this test a few times every year. Today was one of those days. This is a great test that most here should pass easily, but it’s still a good “check-up.”

I challenge you to take this quick test in the next week and drop your results and thoughts here.

Here it is:

Run one mile on the treadmill with the speed set at 6 miles per hour. That’s exactly 10 minutes.

Important: The goal is not to run a mile as fast as you can, but rather to sustain the 6 mph pace for 10 minutes.

Now, which category below do you fit into?

1. I CAN’T DO IT!

Then you’re out of shape – deconditioned, a bit chubby, whatever. You’re just not “fit” in the broad sense of the word. Yes, even if you can lift a ridiculously heavy barbell for a few reps.

2. I CAN DO IT, NO PROBLEM!

If you do it without stopping and it was super easy, then chances are you’re in above average shape.

3. I CAN DO IT… BARELY.

If you can do it BUT it was a near-death experience and left you fighting for air, then you probably have some work to do.

Here’s a snippet of the original article with some extra info:

But We’re Lifters, Not Runners!

Most of us don’t identify as runners. We’re “lifters” in one form or another. But running? Meh. Maybe we’ll add a little when our body fat starts to creep up, but even then, most lifters prefer some form of quick metabolic conditioning, not pounding the treadmill.

But the one-mile test is still a great barometer. It’s a combination of a heart health test and a body fat test. Can’t run a mile in 10 minutes? Then either your cardiovascular fitness is lacking or you’re just carrying around too much non-functional adipose tissue.

Where Do You Stand NOW?

Aging can be tough. And cardiovascular fitness can decline rapidly, even if you’re a lifter. That hour or so spent lifting weights 3-6 times per week, plus a hike or a bike ride on the weekend, may not be enough to outweigh a sedentary job and evenings in front of the TV or computer.

If you’re in your 40’s or older, make sure you can pass this test. According to Dr. Jarett D. Berry, not being able to run a 10-minute mile puts you into the “unfit” category. Remember, heart disease is still the leading cause of death – a bigger killer than cancer – and minimal run times are a good predictor of long-term ticker health.

Dr. Berry adds that a man in his 50’s who can run a mile in 8 minutes or less shows a high level of fitness. For women in that age bracket, it’s 9 minutes or less.

The Real Goal

The goal here isn’t to get faster and faster or to start revolving your training around running. The goal is simply to be able to do it with relative ease and ALWAYS be able to do it with relative ease.

Don’t assume anything. Hop on the stupid treadmill, set the speed at 6 miles per hour, and run a mile. See where you stand.

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My results:

Pretty easy. And that was the first mile I’ve ran since the last time I took this test. I was mildly winded. But I did get a wicked calf cramp 10 minutes later while ab training. Faded away after a few minutes and some stretching.

In recent months, my “cardio” has just been 20 minutes on the stair climber once a week, plus easy to moderate hikes with the wife and furry kids, maybe once a week, weather permitting.

I think this a pretty good test too:

As soon as your mile is up, stop the treadmill, and drink some water or your workout drink. You should be able to do it without a problem according to the doctor who came up with this test. Now, if you can’t drink because you’re sucking air and gasping, your cardiovascular fitness might need some work.

Now, on my stairmill day, I can’t drink as soon as my 20 minutes are up. I crank up the machine the last 30 seconds and try to kill myself. Takes a bit to catch my breath enough to drink water.

I remember training with Christian Thibaudeau. He had us on the Prowler combined with a bunch of other stuff. I was so desperate for air that I let the gum in my mouth fall out on the floor. It was blocking my air, or at least I felt that way. Oxygen debt is fun, kids!

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I need this test but with a bike or a rowing erg – running a mile would make my knees very unhappy.

This may be counterintuitive, but I actually can run a 8:30 mile easier than a 10mm mile.

Slower pacing makes me jump up during my stride, rather than forward, and I don’t let my body really “fall out” into my run. Also, if I do it for a lot of miles, I get terrible shin splints. (Flat road, not treadmill, that right there is actually a big factor why I love treadmill runs).

Granted, I don’t think a 10 minute mile on a treadmill is a tough thing to do, but I would rather get up to a quicker pace any day. I wonder if this indicates something about poor running form on my part?

You should be able to simulate this with a bike. Same 10 minute goal at a moderate pace. Not sure what speed that would be though. I’ve never been much of a stationary bike guy. (They all hurt my butt.)

Not sure about a rowing erg. Given its full-body nature and all the variables (how hard you pull etc.), it would take more out of you.

No, you’re onto something for sure. I hate the 6MPH speed. My body structure wants to go faster. It’s not a “I can go even faster for 10 minutes!” thing; it’s more about stride and gait. Maybe leg length? Slower or faster just feels more “right.” I don’t think I would ever naturally jog at 6MPH.

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This is the tough part for me too. I cycle a good bit and there seems to be an accepted metric for converting cycling miles to running miles at 3 to 1. Applying this metric to the test, I suppose that would be 18 mph on the stationary bike.

Makes sense to me. But then again, I had to take my ‘Dumb Athlete College Math’ class twice.

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Great discussion. I bet most lifters talk themselves into believing they can do this when in reality, the 2RM numbers give them a false sense of security. Injuries to my back and knees prevent me from running anymore. My cardiologist does something similar using a treadmill cranked up to 8 degree incline and a walking pace starting at 3.5 and increasing every 2 minutes a couple tenths. Not sure there is an exact science to the speed/incline but the point is to maintain high effort for 10 minutes. As an added bonus he carries on a conversation with me the whole time. Why? Turns out like drinking when you finish it’s a “tell” for him on how I’m doing. If I labor to talk during the test he knows I need to change my exercise program. Starts off easy but then gets serious. I’m sure there is an equivalent for every cardio machine.

I usually crank the incline up on the treadmill and walk between 7 and 8 miles at above 4mph every day, so I decided to tack this on at the end today. I did it, and I could have gone much longer, but it reminded me how much I dislike running.

I’m gonna do this at the end of my session today. Cardio is always difficult to measure for me because I have a combination of asthma since birth, and reflux that aspirates into my lungs (I will figure this shit out one day!), with shortness of breath of course being one of the main symptoms. Some days I feel I could run a good distance, on flare-ups just sitting still can feel not great.

I did manage to do a pretty spontaneous 5k during lockdown with no real training, but it didn’t do my shins any good!

As long as I can do this 1-2x, walk the dog 5-6k steps 2-3x a week, and do a light warm-up with the girls football team I coach… I’m happy as far as cardio goes.

I might actually plan for this 1x a week and then 15-second sprint intervals on the bike with 45secs active recovery between each “set” later in the week. Some good variation that I don’t feel will impact muscle gain, and short enough overall to make me actually do it without needing too much discipline.

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For a fun comparator go back to original Cooper Test:

Something is always better than nothing. Society is going downhill. Look at those people on the recumbent bikes in the gym. Can’t peddle the bike with that adipose tissue blocking the full ROM.

That’s pretty cool. I like the classic “talk test” too. I failed that one last week when a gym friend got on the stairmill beside me when I was about finished. He’s talkative so I did like 10 extra minutes to chat with him. By the end, I couldn’t continue the conversation without cranking down the speed. That was around 30 minutes though, but it was “fun” to reach that threshold and see what it was like.

Same. :smile:

I did a couple of those with Dani when we were dating. The stuff we will endure to woo a woman. Sheesh. :wink:

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OK, I completed as prescribed.

Generally I like to start out at about 5.6 or 5.7mph and bump it up each minute or so topping out at 6.3 or 6.4mph. I’ve managed up to 2 miles doing it this way. I’m in the out-of-shape/overweight/over-the-hill category (5’ 10", 230lb, 55yo) so maybe this test is a pretty low threshold.

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Here’s another “fun” one. Official thread: Community Challenge: 500m Row in Under 2 Minutes

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I like this one a lot better than the running test. Especially since I can hold sub 2:00 for 30 minutes. :slight_smile:

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That’s literally my warm-up.

Me too, because I get to sit down.

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