Physical fitness isn't just about lifting. It's about how strong you are relative to your body weight, says Martin Rooney, P.T., C.S.C.S., author of Ultimate Warrior Workouts. That's why he has his athletes-in-training do body-weight tests. If they struggle, they need to either gain strength or lose weight. Test yourself the same way with his pushup challenge. To assess your overall form, take these 10 simple fitness tests.
The test: Do as many pushups as you can in 3 minutes.
1. Rest whenever you want, but keep the clock running the whole time.
2. For a rep to count, you must maintain perfect form: elbows locked at the top, chest 2 inches above the floor at the bottom, hips not sagging, and knees not touching the floor.
3. Pace yourself however you'd like, but it's best not to rush, Rooney says. Take a 15-second break once you slow down after your first burst. Then take longer breaks as you become more tired, he says. Never push yourself to total fatigue.
< 55 pushups: Below average
55 to 74 pushups: Average
75 to 99 pushups: Good
100 to 110 pushups: Excellent
111 or more: Extraordinary
Problems to look for:
If you can't do 15 pushups with perfect form... Your chest and triceps are weak. Strengthen them by doing regular high-rep (12 to 15) sets of the bench press and triceps pushdown. Also try pushups in a power rack on a barbell so you can set your body at an incline, making the pushup easier. As you improve, lower the barbell until you're doing regular pushups.
If your hips sag during pushups... Your core is weak. Solution: planks and side planks. These exercises build stability and endurance in your core and mimic the movement needed to succeed at pushups. They're also great ab workouts. (Learn seven more ways to carve washboard abs.)
How to boost your score
Add pushups to your routine twice a week for the next 4 weeks, says Rooney. Follow this pushup protocol, trying to complete each rep as quickly as possible. Then take 5 days off from pushups, and retest yourself.