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Level 2 Fitness Standards: Strength and Work Capacity

Welcome to the second tier of the Everyday Marksman fitness standards. At this level, it’s about strength and work capacity. If you aren’t familiar with those terms, particularly the second one, don’t worry. I’ll talk you through it.

If you recall from my Level 1 assessment post, I decided that the best way to set community fitness standards was not to use a single test, but rather a series of increasingly difficult tests to show a progression from general health to specialized skills.

If you are wondering why I put this together at all, then you can check out the accompanying podcast episode where I pontificated on my reasoning.

Again, the totality of my standards come in three levels:

The first test, Level 1, used simple bodyweight exercises to target range of motion, the basic strength of major muscle groups, and a cardio-endurance component. It is a simple test that, with the exception of the ruck, can be done with no equipment on any patch of dirt.

Level 2 is not like that. This level tests for strength-to-weight ratio and increases the endurance component to test for overall work capacity.

Strength and Work Capacity

I think it’s important to define these terms as I’m using them. For my purposes, strength refers to the ability to move a given amount of weight in a given direction. Work capacity is a measure of your ability to put out a high amount of effort over a set amount of time.

In practical terms, more strength means more muscle mass. Stong people can do more, survive longer in emergencies, and are simply more useful at being humans. I’m sure I don’t need to linger here as you can very well imagine many situations from everyday life, athletics, or even combat where being the stronger adversary gives you an edge.

A higher level of work capacity means you will better be able to function under stress. In a fight-or-flight situation, you will be enabled to “get off the X” and outperform adversaries through sheer short term endurance.

Relative Strength

I want to make a quick note that this assessment is based on relative strength. By that I mean that the strength assessment does not look to a specific number of pounds you have to lift. Instead, it’s based on a ratio of your body weight to the pounds lifted. The only way to improve your score is either by lifting more weight (get stronger) or to reduce your body weight (get leaner). Both are admirable goals and so I leave the decision to you on which you want to choose. 

Of course, the best answer is probably, “do both.”


I am not a medical professional, nor am I certified as a personal trainer or anything like that. I’m simply an enthusiast who has read a bunch of stuff and written down what I think makes sense. Before engaging in any of these assessments, you should consult with a medical professional.

Additionally, this assessment should not be attempted by any un-trained or severely de-trained individuals. The components of this assessment can be dangerous if performed incorrectly. You should have spent at least six months in the gym training these movements prior to attempting the assessment. 

Do not injure yourself trying to “reach” for the next point bracket.

Level 2 Fitness Assessment

Here we go! The Level 2 fitness assessment has three major components: relative strength, work capacity, and endurance. You do not have to complete all of these at the same time, but must complete all portions of the assessment within a 72-hour period. 

This assessment is not easy, and you should not attempt it until you have spent a significant amount of time in the gym working on these movements. Failure to use proper form will result in injury, as will attempting to push yourself beyond your limit. The passing standards are low enough that a reasonable strength program executed consistently for six months will be more than enough.

Strength Assessment

The strength portion of this assessment utilizes the following movements:

  • Barbell low back squat
  • Barbell overhead press
  • Conventional Deadlift
  • Pull-ups
I selected these movements because they sample each of the major pushing and pulling movements the human body undertakes. Before beginning this assessment, you must develop the proper form for each of these exercises. Failure to use proper form probably result in injury.
For the first three movements, you are scored based upon your three-rep max. Most strength tests only look for your one-rep max. The three-rep max will be slightly lower but is a better measure of your ability to sustain the effort. Scaling for the strength portion is based on a modified ranking system produced by Mark Rippetoe at Starting Strength.
With the pull-ups, this is strict-form only from a dead hang. You are not permitted to use any assistance, kipping, or anything else. Your palms should be facing away from you with your thumbs either on the inside or outside of the bar. Scoring here is based on research into the national averages.
Here are videos explaining the proper form and technique for each lift.
You’ll find the scoring chart at the bottom.

Work Capacity Assessment

I looked at several possibilities for measuring work capacity, including developing my own. But in the end I think it works best to use one produced by well-known trainers, uses a minimum of equipment, and best replicates real-world conditions.

With that in mind, I’m leaning on Rob Shaul and the Mountain Tactical Institute’s work capacity assessment.

This test is simple. All you need is two markers placed 25 yards apart and 25 lbs of weight. The weight can be in the form of a weighted ruck, weighted vest, plate carrier, or something else- but it must be attached to you (as opposed to something you carry like dumbbells or a sandbag). 

After a warmup, you will don the weighted gear, get into the prone position at one end of the course, and complete the following three-round sequence:

  • 3 minutes of 25-yard shuttle sprints, dropping to prone at each end of the sprint
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 minutes of 25-yard shuttle sprints, dropping to prone at each end of the sprint
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 minutes of 25-yard shuttle sprints, dropping to prone at each end of the sprint

One repetition is 1 x 25-yard length, so a round trip is 2 reps. Only a full length counts, and the goal is completing as many reps as possible within the 9 minutes of activity. This may seem simple, but I assure you that the loaded up-down nature combined with the running will leave you gasping for air by the end. 

As a side note, if you’ve ever attended a small unit tactics class then this kind of thing is what you’ll be doing a heck of lot of as you move from cover to cover (i.e. “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down”).

Endurance Segment

As with Level 1, there is a rucking component to the Level 2 assessment, but the stakes are now higher with both weight and distance. For the Level 2 assessment, you must complete a timed ruck with 40 lbs over a distance of 8 miles

The pacing standards remain the same as with Level 1, so a “good” target is 15:00 per mile, a perfect score comes from maintaining a 12:60 per mile, and a minimum passing score comes from a 16:30 per mile pace.


Use this table to calcuate your final score. Remember, all events must be completed within a 72-hour period. For the relative strength assessments, all numbers are given as a percentage of your bodyweight, so if you weigh 180 lbs and the item says you earn 90 points at 150%, then you must perform three repetitions of the movement with 270 lbs in order to earn those points.

There are 600 possible points for the Level 2 assessment. As before, between 60% to 69% is “Marginal,” 70% to 89% is “Good,” and anything beyond 90% is “Excellent.” That translates to:

  • Needs Improvement: Less than 360 points
  • Marginal: 360 to 419 points
  • Good: 420 to 539 points
  • Excellent: 540 points or better

Note that as of April 2023, I’ve updated the scoring to include more intermediate points and smaller jumps between percentages.

Points 3RM Back Squat (%BW) 3RM Overhead Press (%BW) 3RM Deadlift (%BW) Pull-ups Work Capacity Reps 8-Mile Ruck Time (40 lbs)
100 180% 90% 200% 15 50 1:44:00
99 175% 87.5% 195% 1:45:00
98 170% 85% 190% 14 49 1:46:00
97 167.5% 82.5% 185% 1:47:00
96 165% 80% 180% 13 48 1:48:00
95 162.5% 77.5% 175% 1:49:00
94 160.0% 75% 170% 12 47 1:50:00
93 157.5% 165% 1:51:00
92 155% 72.5% 160% 11 48 1:52:00
91 152.5% 155% 1:53:00
90 150% 70% 150% 10 47 1:54:00
89 145% 150% 1:55:00
88 140% 67.5% 147% 9 46 1:56:00
87 135% 143% 1:57:00
86 135% 65% 140% 8 45 1:58:00
85 130% 137.5% 1:59:00
84 125% 62.5% 135% 7 2:00:00
83 120% 132.5% 44 2:00:40
82 115% 60% 130% 6 2:01:20
81 112.5% 127.5% 2:02:00
80 110% 125% 5 43 2:02:40
79 57.5% 125.5% 2:03:20
78 120% 2:04:00
77 107.5% 117.5% 42 2:04:40
76 55% 115% 2:05:20
75 112.5% 4 2:06:00
74 105% 110% 41 2:06:40
73 52.5% 107.5% 2:07:20
72 102.50% 105% 2:08:00
71 102.5% 40 2:08:40
70 100% 50% 100% 3 2:09:20
69 99% 2:10:00
68 98.5% 39
67 97.50% 47.5% 97% 2:10:30
66 96.5%
65 95% 2 38 2:11:00
64 95% 45%
63 2:11:30
62 92.50% 37
61 92.5% 42.5% 2:12:00
60 1
59 90% 36 2:12:30
58 90% 40%
57 2:13:00
56 87.5% 35
55 85% 2:13:30
54 37.5%
53 85%
52 82.5% 34
50 35% 82.5% 2:14:00
49 80% 33
47 80%
46 75% 32.5% 32
45 2:14:20
43 72.5% 77.5% 31
42 30%
40 70% 30 2:14:40