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…