You think you're strong and in shape. You crush every exercise in the weight room and blow by your teammates in conditioning drills. You're in top physical shape, and it's apparent to everyone around you.
Problem is, the world includes a lot more athletes. You can bet there's someone out there who is stronger, trains harder and can outlast you.
So, how do you challenge your body, improve your game and determine where you STACK up (pun intended)? Take one of the following fitness challenges, designed by elite strength and conditioning experts to push athletes to the limit.
Note: Perform a max of one challenge per week.
60,000 Pounds in 60 Minutes Challenge
Alan Stein: Here is an awesome workout challenge that is perfect for athletes of any level to do once every couple of weeks during the off-season. It's a fantastic way to break up the monotony of training, add some variety to your workout and spark your competitiveness.
How To: Multiply the weight you lift by the number of reps you perform to get total poundage for that set. If you Bench Press 135 pounds 10 times, record 1,350 pounds for that set. Keep a running total and then add everything up at the end (use the calculator on your smartphone so you don't waste time doing math.) Here are the rules:
- Only full range of motion reps count.
- Pull-Ups are the only bodyweight exercises allowed (use your body weight as the weight for the exercise).
- Lift free weights and dumbbells as much as possible to keep things universal.
- When using dumbbells, count the total weight lifted. If you're doing a Dumbbell Bench Press with 50 pounds, you count 100 pounds toward your total (2x50 pounds).
- Start the clock on your first rep and end the workout in exactly 60 minutes.
2-Minute Back Squat
Lee Boyce: The 2-Minute Back Squat creates balance and kicks the crap out of your conditioning in the process. Guys over 200 pounds, or taller athletes, should be completely torched after this bad boy.
How To: Load the bar so it's equal to your body weight and squat through a full range of motion for two minutes straight. You can stand up and breathe between reps as long as you need (don't rack the weight), but try to do as many reps as you can.
10/10 Treadmill Fitness Test
Mike Boyle: What you get here is really a true fitness test because you're running uphill. You measure who can run up the hill the longest.
How To: Perform as shown in the video at the top.
Tony Gentilcore: This killer 10-15-minute circuit will torch anyone. Your goal should be to complete it in less time every week.
How To: Perform a circuit with Goblet Squats, Kettlebell Swings and a constant exercise, such as Chin-Ups or Push-Ups. Rest only as needed.
- 10 Squats, 1 Swing, 1-3 Chin-Ups
- 9 Squats, 2 Swings, 1-3 Chin-Ups
- 8 Squats, 3 Swings, 1-3 Chin-Ups
- 7 Squats, 4 Swings, 1-3 Chin-Ups
- 6 Squats, 5 Swings, 1-3 Chin-Ups
- 5 Squats, 6 Swings, 1-3 Chin-Ups
- 4 Squats, 7 Swings, 1-3 Chin-Ups
- 3 Squats, 8 Swings, 1-3 Chin-Ups
- 2 Squats, 9 Swings, 1-3 Chin-Ups
- 1 Squat, 10 Swings, 1-3 Chin-Ups
Iron Pirate Walk-Over
Rick Scarpulla: This one is something we use at Ultimate Advantage to mix things up. It's fun and will completely shred your upper body.
How To: Set up four 6-inch hurdles about 5 feet apart in a straight line.
- Assume a push-up position with the course in front of you.
- Place your hands on two 25-pound hex dumbbells.
- Wrap a resistance band around your feet and have a partner lift your legs off the ground so they are slightly above head level.
- Do five Push-Ups.
- Walk forward with your hands over the first hurdle.
- Do another five Push-Ups.
- Continue through the course.
Tip: For added fun, have your partner swing your legs back and forth.
3-Minute B Meyer Blast
Bryan Meyer: This is a simple total-body test that will challenge an athlete at any level. It's very safe, builds up your confidence and won't break you down mentally. Try it once per month.
How To: Perform the exercises consecutively with no rest. Repeat for two sets, resting one minute between sets.
- 5-yard Sprint and Backpedal x 10
- Speed Squats (with triple extension) x 10
- Push-Ups x 10
- X, Y Supermans x 10
Pete Holman: This is an awesome physical and mental challenge and a great test of strength, endurance and anaerobic power.
How To: Row as fast as you can on a rowing machine for 500 meters. A good time is between 1:30-1:35, a great time is between 1:25-1:30, and an excellent time is between 1:20-1:25. If you score under 1:20, you're a superhero!
Super Leg Circuit
Mark Roozen: This leg circuit will let you know if you're ready to handle any type of speed work and plyometric training. You'll also get an idea of your anaerobic conditioning, which is critical for powering through tough moments during a game. When you can handle this test, you're ready to handle the toughest of workouts.
How To: Perform the exercises consecutively without rest. Strive to complete each set in 90 seconds, resting for two minutes between sets. Repeat for a total of five sets.
- 20 Bodyweight Squats
- 20 Bodyweight Squat Jumps
- 20 Alternating Lunges (10 each leg)
- 20 Split-Squat Jumps (10 each leg)
- 10 Alternating Step-Ups/Step Jumps
Triangle Drill Challenge
Doug Crashley: The Triangle Drill Challenge is a variation of a drill we use to develop speed and reaction time. But the challenge component causes further fatigue and improves decision-making during high-pressure situations during a game.
How To: Perform the drill as demonstrated in the video at the top. Choose a work-to-rest ratio that simulates your sport. If you're a football player, work for about 10 seconds and rest for about 30 seconds.
100-Yard Power Wheel Challenge
Ryan Hoover: In my opinion, one of the simplest but toughest exercises is the 100-Yard Power Wheel Challenge, which we regularly use at Fit to Fight. The University of California at Berkeley did a study that deemed the Power Wheel "the most effective core trainer." My clients and students think it's evil.
How To: Assume a Push-Up position with your feet on a power wheel. Crawl for 100 yards.
300-Yard Shuttle Speed Test
Nick Tumminello: This will test your speed and power/endurance (i.e., your conditioning).
How To: Place two cones or water bottles 25 yards apart. Have a friend time you. Sprint as fast as you can back and forth between the cones, touching each cone. Repeat for 12 lengths for a total of six round trips.
- >70 sec. – Poor
- <67 sec. – Below Average
- <65 sec. – Average
- <60 sec. – Above Average
- <58 sec. – Fast
- <55 sec. – Stud
- >75 sec. – Poor
- <74 sec. – Below Average
- <70 sec. – Average
- <68 sec. – Above Average
- <65 sec. – Fast
Trainer Scot Prohaska's barbell complex combines four strength and power moves performed back-to-back-to-back-to-back. You build full-body strength, explosive power and muscular endurance in less than a minute per set.
How To: Do six reps of High Pulls From the Floor, Power Cleans, Shoulder Presses and Bent-Over Rows with no rest between them. When you finish all four movements, don't put the bar down. Go back to the beginning of the circuit and perform five reps of each move. You'll do a total of 44 reps before you put the bar down. That's one set. Perform three sets, resting 60 to 90 seconds between them. Click here for more info.
TRX 40-40 Challenge
Todd Durkin: Do 40 TRX Atomic Push-Ups and 40 TRX Rows. It's going to be tough. Get your mind right.
How To: Perform as shown in the video at the top.
- Try This Brutal Single-Plate Workout
- The STACK Top 5 HardCORE Exercises
- Can You Pass the Chicago Bears Conditioning Test?
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock