Everyone knows that being “in shape” is a good thing. We all know that we are supposed to work out, to burn calories, to get our heart rate up.

What is the end goal though? How much work should you be able to do, how strong do you need to be, what skills are necessary, and how can you measure your progress? There are as many answers to these questions as there are people working out.

If you are training for a particular sport, or activity, it is fairly straightforward to define the desired outcomes. If your goal is simply being fit however, it can be much more difficult to set appropriate goals. What we need are some benchmarks that will help us train in the most effective way, and allow us to evaluate our progress as we go.

I first developed the Athletic Skill Levels in 2006 based on a simple idea; there are a set of skills which will predict success in a broad range of physical endeavors. Since posting the chart on our website in 2006, it was linked on (thanks Lynne), has become a fundamental concept in the CrossFit community, and can be found on the walls of gyms around the globe. These Skill Levels define a limited set of physical skills and set progressive benchmarks in these skills. Using these benchmarks, you can develop a personalized set of goals for improving your fitness.

Having defined goals is a good start, but over the years, I’ve realized that the Skill Levels needed to do more. They needed to provide more guidance on how to make progress toward these goals.

In the last 8 years, we have trained thousands of people, using the Athletic Skill Levels as a benchmark of our clients’ progress. We have seen how people progress toward their fitness goals, and where their progress stalls. That experience has guided the development of a new, updated version of the Skill Levels.