June 13, 2011
A few years ago, I was reading an Esquire magazine article about 75 year old Don Wildman, and a crazy workout he does called “The Most Difficult Workout Ever Created”.
The workout is a circuit of sixteen “groups” of exercises, all performed as back-to-back consecutive sets with no rest in between. You can see the entire routine here. It is described as an incredibly grueling workout, that Mr. Wildman claimed in the article to be doing 3 times per week.
One day, I tucked that Esquire magazine under my arm, and told my wife I was running to the gym, where I'd be for an hour or so. I jogged down the road to the YMCA, then dove into the routine with passionate fury.
Three hours later, I called my wife for a ride home. I couldn't move.
A few lucky athletes who I coach have actually had that same Don Wildman workout routine appear on their training calendar, and have reported similar feelings of extreme physical and mental discomfort, along with sharp mutterings and occasional cursing in my general direction.
But you know what a workout like that accomplishes, aside from stealing a few hours of your morning or afternoon?
It empowers you to prove to yourself that you actually can do it. It empowers you to accomplish something new. It empowers you to head to the gym for the afternoon and climb your own mini Mount Everest.
There's another similar feat called “The 300 Workout”.
This Spartanesque workout originally appeared in mainstream media in Men's Health, you can view it here, and it is described as the routine that actor Gerard Butler and the cast of “300” used to get incredibly ripped physiques for the movie. The original designers of the workout were the folks from Gym Jones.
The 300 Workout is:
-50 deadlifts with 135 pounds
-50 jumps on a 24-inch box
-50 floor wipers
-50 single-arm clean-and-presses
-25 more pullups
Interestingly, with such training during the movie shoot, Butler ended up needing an 8 month post-movie recovery period from overtraining.
But still, if you try it just once, I guarantee it will drastically improve your confidence in your physical and mental fitness.
And yes, I've done both of those workouts…
…but neither were the hardest workout I've ever done.
In reality, my toughest, craziest workout took place in Asia, where I raced up the sharp and steep 1,237 steps to the Thai Theravada Buddhist Temple located just on the outskirts of Krabi Town, in southern Thailand.
It took me just over 11 minutes, but turned out to be one of the most physically draining efforts of red-hot intense activity I've ever done. By the top, I was using my entire body to launch myself up the rails – biceps, back, calves, thighs, chest and pinky.
It was quite literally and figuratively a religious experience.
That 11 minute Buddha stairs effort made Ironman triathlon feel slow and easy, and my legs were wobbly and sore for days afterwards. Like most hard workouts, there was no finish line or screaming crowd at the top.
Just me and my stopwatch. And some more good evidence that when it comes to workouts, short and hard is more efficient than long and easy, as I wrote about here.
So how about you?
What's the craziest, hardest workout you've ever done? Why did you do it? What motivated you?
Share your experience below…
21 thoughts on “What Is The Craziest Workout You Have Ever Done?”
The Iron Triathlon
Reps from 1-20 of:
1.5x body weight deadlift
1x body weight bench press
75% body weight squat clean
So you do the first set of 1 deadlift/bench press/squat clean, then 2 reps of each all the way to 20 reps of each. It took me 2 hours to complete and I scaled way back. Still on my workout bucket list to do as prescribed.
You need to pace yourself better in a iron man triathlon if 11 minutes of step climbing wore you out that badly and actually have completed an ironman. If you are looking to simply just finish things then you can’t really make a toughest workout list that is accurate.
Toughest “short” workouts I’ve done recently are adaptations of Brooks Kubik’s Dinosaur Training sandbag workouts. For example:
1A) Clean and Press a 150 lbs sandbag AMRAP for 10 minutes
1B) Bear hug said bag and walk half a mile
Most difficult workout I’ve had in a day was probably the GoRuck AMSEC challenge…basically 14 hours of PT and heavy carries. Featured activities like bear crawling with 30 lbs on my back for 400 yards, and carrying 200 lbs men on my shoulders through Columbus, OH. It was a great way to find out how tough I almost wasn’t.
My hardest work out was in soccer it was
then go find a really steep hill
then we do 500’s
50- the last two we got to choose whatever and then we flipped tires
and pulled tires for 10 min each
Then we practiced
idk if that is hard but it always sucked on the days we did them
I new an SAS guy i used to train.. This is seriously insane though.. I am a pro athlete who just did 70 jujitsu sessions in 5 weeks.. But even that doesn’t compare..
This guy seriously set a timer for 45 minutes, and did Burpies… The whole way… with sweet F/A rest.. Mentally tough beast.
I had the opportunity and privilege to workout with the US Army Delta Force or Rangers as a charity event to help wounded warriors. Because I already got to wrkout with the Rangers for a week as a ROTC Raider Cadet, I decided to workout with Delta. It was only five hrs but they worked us out to death. I puked at least 10 times, felt like passing out, my body was shaking from severe muscle fatigue. It was awful. I was sore for a month. But I survived. Out of the 50 or so that were there, only 6 remained. I got a T-Shirt!
O and in ROTC Raiders once a month the Col would take us to Currahee Mountain and make us run up it with 50lb back packs and a 150lb stretcher on a 4 man team. Because I was Raider CO for the last 2 years I just had to be put on the stretcher. I hated it. 3 miles up and 3 miles down.
I hate to say I'm not as fit as I used to be either….. makes me want to hit the gym!
Did this one a few days ago and thought it was a great challenge.
200 meter run – 20 Pull ups
400 meter run – 20 Pull ups – 50 Push ups
800 meter run – 20 Pull ups – 50 Push ups – 75 Sit ups
1 mile run – 20 Pull ups – 50 Push ups – 75 Sit ups – 100 Squats
800 meter run – 20 Pull ups – 50 Push ups – 75 Sit ups
400 meter run – 20 Pull ups – 50 Push ups
200 meter run – 20 Pull ups
Any rest between runs?
Well it's supposed to be as fast as possible for time. I took a few sips of water here and there, but no real rest breaks otherwise. The workout took me an hour–and I was only doing negative pull ups and push ups on my knees. I might have died otherwise. Haha. I also did the workout a second time with dips instead of pull ups and walking lunges instead of push ups. Also a good one!
I think the hardest session I ever did was when I was rowing training a few years ago and we had a 10 000m ergo race between 2 people…..Each could only do 500m at a time on the rowing machine and you were racing the rest of the squad. It essentially means 10 x 500m pieces at "sprint till you can sprint no more" pace with your partner on the machine when you are resting (or heaving). I have never felt so much hatred towards someone as I did at that moment after number 4….. the lactate was accumulating with every stroke, the aciditity was increasing with every second and my lungs felt like they wanted to jump out of my chest and hide in a corner.
True mad workout Ben my last swim in our Lake by myself before I left to head to Ironman Australia after getting all ready to leave..it was dark…no problem I thought as I've swam there 100's of times, so I take of along the bank to the left an kept on smashing into the reeds on the shore for some reason…getting pretty cranky about it…finally got to my turnaround point…on the way back…looking up at the dim Coke-machine light to get back to the start point didnt seem to be getting closer…I'd got lost seemed like going in circles…scared the crap out of me…seems as I'm a left hander is my strongest arm I veer to the left [the reason I was crashing into the reeds on the way out] on the way back I was heading into the centre of the lake all the time..must be in the light we must naturally adjust for this I guess…so finally after gaining my composure again I breath stroked to the light not taking my eye of it…so for a 40 minute swim [useually in the day] took me an hour an 10 minutes…ended up well though I qualified for Hawaii that year Hahaha hope you enjoyed Seeya
No reply no reply…wonder why wonder why?
Not sure what you want me to say, other than that you are a truly hardcore!
Some of my least favorite swim workouts from back in the day:
30×100 long course meters, alternating 1 or 2 fast with 1 easy on 1:30. Hard 100s from a dive.
400 IM (100 of each stroke)
Extremely challenging intervals for the 100s, but the 400 IM doesn’t allow for much recovery!
And my least favorite ever, following a run that included multiple sets of stairs in parking garages:
All short course yards on :33
I think we were given an easy 100 on 1:30 between sets of 50s.
Any of these swim workouts would be nearly impossible for me now.
You asked for weird, so here it is…(ADULTS ONLY!!!)
I spend a couple of months of the year in Las Vegas and have a friend who works for the Cosmopolitan Hotel, which has a really bad gym! Here is the "in room" workout the hotel gives outs to guest upon requests. They called it…well, you best see below…this is for real! No Joke!
"COSMO SLEEPING HOOKER WORKOUT"
D•Bodyweight Squat x 30 (these are to be performed naked)
•Decline pushup with feet on something (preferably a sleeping Hooker) x 20
•Bulgarian Split Squat with back foot on SH x 10-15
•Spiderman Climb x 12 per side (no spiders needed)
•Step-Over to Duck Unders x 12 per side (hip mobility in case you want to come out of Stripper Retirement while in Vegas)
•Inchworms/Walkouts x 8
Cool Down -WAKE UP THE HOOKER!
This one takes the cake.
OK, so maybe this doesn't count as a workout, but I am a runner, who is trying to cut back to only 4 hours a week and just starting the Marathon Dominator program to train for Chicago in October. I think I have hurt myself in the past by running 5-6 days a week, and always getting either injured or sick and messing up my training. So, I have incorporated some Yoga, Pilates, and biking into my week. The other day, my husband was out of town, and since I have four small children (twins, included!) I decided to make a workout out of all the crap I had to get done that morning! So, what that looked like was this: (My house is on three levels)
I fed the kids breakfast, and cleaned the kitchen, moving as quickly as possible. Then, I went into my living room and did a circuit of 20 jumping jacks, 20 crunches, 20 jumping jacks, 20 pushups, 20 jumping jacks, 20 overhead lifts with 10 lb weights and 20 jumping jacks. Then, I headed downstairs, grabbed my huge overflowing laundry basket with the stuff that needed to be put away and hauled in up the two flights of stairs where I set it down and did the same circuit I just described over again. Then, put away the clothes. Ran down the stairs, put two kids in the bathtub, and did the circuit again. Then, ran a vacuum cleaner over my carpets, did the circuit again, got the kids out and dressed, and did the circuit again. By then, I needed a shower! I honestly felt like I turned my day OFF into a great workout that ended up making chores fun and probably burning a few calories! So there is my silliest workout, Ben! LOVE your website and podcasts!
A few friends decided we'd run one of Hong Kong's long trails called Lantau Trail. The trail distance was 70km over several mountains including the 2nd and 3rd tallest mountains in Hong Kong. We've since done it as an annual ritual trying to set a faster time each year.
30 push-ups then 15 pull-ups for 12 rounds in 52 minutes.
I used to swim 50 yards, get out of the pool and do 15 push-ups. Then, I'd swim 50 and do 25 sit-ups. Back and forth, in and out of the pool until my arms and abs were totally burnt.
There's a hill in my town on which they made some sort of stairs, it has exactly 90 steps and I used to do them 10 times at a steady pace and walk down after each repition. And than I got the crazy idea to do it with a bag, filled up with some weights. So I did the same routine but with 17kg of weights in my backpack. The last three times I just walked up the stairs, but it did give me some extra power a week later.