Here's what you need to know...
- Test your conditioning and courage with any of these brutal challenges. The first one is pushing a heavy sled for 10 laps of 30 yards.
- In the second challenge combine 240 push-ups with 80 pull-ups. In the third, swing a 100 pound kettlebell for 30 reps at a time.
- The fourth challenge will require you to wear an 80-pound weight vest while climbing a Stepmill for five minutes. The fifth is five "sprints" of a 500 meter row.
- The sixth challenge is two straight minutes of rope jumping; the seventh requires a brutal combination of pull-ups and kettlebell swings.
- The eighth challenge is 10 sets of 10 dumbbell rows, while challenges nine and ten are timed complexes involving barbells and pull-up bars.
Set aside all the "I lift weights to be healthy" crap and start being honest: You train because you want to be a bad ass. You think "normal" blows and the last thing you want to look like is normal. Well, here's your chance to shine.
The 10 Challenges
- Prowler Push: 90 lbs, 30 yards, 10 trips for time
Put 90 pounds on it, measure out and mark 30 yards, then do 10 trips out and back. That's it.
You can alternate pushing from the low handle and the high handle – high is much easier. Rest as long as you like, but record your time.
Anything under 10 minutes is very good; 7:45 is the current record at my gym. I seriously doubt you will even finish it your first try.
- Supersets: Pull-ups: 80. Push-ups: 240. For time
Stop bragging about "relative strength." You're either strong or you're not. So instead of finding some obscure context in which your meager lifts are impressive, why not just shut up and get strong in the basics?
That said, here's one for all of you spandex-wearing relative strength junkies: Complete 80 pull-ups and 240 push-ups.
Superset them and try to finish each exercise in roughly the same number of sets. Don't just do all the push-ups and then go do all the pull-ups. Rest as much as you want, but again you're recording total time.
Because this is conditioning, don't expect perfect form on the pull-ups – especially once you're exhausted, so a bit of a kip is okay. But get your chest to the ground on each push-up.
Aim for under 20 minutes. The current record at my gym is 15 minutes. Try to beat that.
- Kettlebell Swings: 100 pounds, 30 reps, 3 sets; 30-second break each set
For conditioning, the kettlebell swing is as good as it gets. This challenge is simple on paper but will leave you in a sweaty pile of drool.
Take a 100-pound kettlebell, swing it 30 times, rest 30 seconds, then repeat two more times. If a100-pound kettlebell is too heavy, then too bad. There are nine other challenges that may be better suited to your effeminate frame. Pick another.
- Stepmill: 5 minutes, 80-pound vest; max number of flights climbed
Put on an 80-pound weight vest and hit the Stepmill for five minutes.
Go at whatever speed you want and feel free to change it as needed. The goal is to climb as many floors as possible in those five minutes. The record at my gym is 27 floors. Dare you to beat that.
- 500 Meter Row: 5 rounds; 1-minute rest in between each round
Here's one that's a little more straightforward cardio, but still involves a good deal of power. Get on the rower – or the "erg" if you're a crewer.
Set the machine up for the 500-meter interval program, which involves rowing 500 meters, taking a one-minute break, and then repeating.
Do five 500-meter sprints, maintaining that one-minute break in between each. The goal is to do each of those five sprints in under 1:40 if you're a male. Aim for under 2:05 if you're a female.
- Jump Rope: 2 minutes; max number of skips
Here's a simple one. Get a jump rope and skip it as many times as you can in a two-minute timeframe.
A skip is every time the jump rope hits the floor or goes under your body. The goal? 360 or more skips in two minutes. Why that number? Because it sounds good and it's about half as fast as the world record.
You should be able to run half as fast as Usain Bolt, right? So you should be able to jump rope half as fast as the best people on the planet. How's that for logic?
Mistakes are okay; just remember the timer just keeps running while you fumble to get back in rhythm.
- Pull-ups and Kettlebell Swings: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 rep on both exercises; 100-pound kettlebell; for time
You'll need a pull-up bar and a 100-pound kettlebell.
Start with the pull-ups: Do 10 pull-ups, then do 10 kettlebell swings. Next it's 9 pull-ups, 9 swings, 8 pull-ups, 8 swings, all the way down to one rep on each.
Rest as long as you want, but again this is for total time. Kipping is okay on the pull-ups, as long as it still resembles a pull-up and not a seizure. The goal is to complete this in five minutes or less.
- 1-Arm Dumbbell Row: 100 lbs, 10 reps each side, 10 sets; for time
The goal on this challenge is to complete 10 sets of dumbbell rows in 10 minutes or less. If you can do that you can walk out of the gym with your head held high.
Assume the dumbbell row position, either kneeling on a bench or supporting yourself on something stable, with your upper back near parallel to the ground.
Grab one 100-pound dumbbell and do a set of 10 reps for one arm, then immediately switch to the other arm and do 10 reps. Rest as long as necessary before starting the next set, just remember that this is for total time.
A little swing is fine but it should look like a row. You're not starting a lawn mower here.
- Barbell Complex: 8 reps each exercise, 105, 85, 65, 45 pounds; for time
This complex consists of six exercises in a row performed in this order: Romanian deadlift, clean, military press, squat, good morning, and 90-degree bent over row.
A complex is when you do a certain number of reps of one exercise (we'll do 8 on all of them) and then immediately progress into the next exercise. Use the same load for all the exercises.
This is a complex and with a drop set. It's going to be 4 rounds of the above complex for total time.
The weight on the first round is 105 lbs, second is 85 lbs, third is 65 lbs, and fourth is 45 lbs. That means you put three 10-pound plates on each side of the bar and strip one off as soon as the complex is completed.
You're still doing 8 reps of each exercise on each complex, so that part doesn't change.
Rest as long as you want whenever you want, but you're doing it for time, so push it. It's nice to have partners to help you strip the bar and to call you a pansy when you start to whimper. Your goal is to do this in five minutes or less.
- Valeria: For Time
This is a challenge I wrote a while back and it's perhaps the ultimate combination of strength and conditioning.
You do the following:
- Bench Press: 275 lbs x 21 reps
- Pull-ups: + 50 lbs x 21 reps
- Deadlift: 405 lbs x 21 reps
- EZ Curl: 135 lbs x 21 reps
Rest as long as you want when you want; you're not expected to complete all 21 reps without stopping, but again the challenge is for total time.
The best record I've seen for this using the absolute values given is 9:49, which is exceptional, although the form on a few of the exercises was questionable. My own time of 14:36 is second place. My form was better than his but definitely not enough to account for almost five minutes of time.
I'm starting to doubt if anyone can come close to the five-minute mark on this challenge, but I could always be proven wrong. If those suggested weights are too challenging, the original article describes how to modify it for you.
The goal times for all ten challenges are set to represent a true accomplishment if successfully completed. But if they're too hard, don't worry, they're scalable. Take the theme of the challenge, modify it so it's challenging for you, then do it.