While a consistent workout program combined with sound nutrition is the key to long term strength and muscle building, sometimes it’s fun to try out a gym challenge or two. This is because an extreme gym challenge can not only test how hard you can work physically, but how far you can push yourself mentally. Below are seven examples that you can pick from.
#1 – Endless Burpees
Keeping a stopwatch or a clock with a second hand nearby, start doing burpees. One of the most grueling exercises out there. Start off by doing sets of 8 with 20 seconds rest. When you can no longer keep that up, drop to sets of 7, then sets of 6, and finally sets of 5. However, your rest breaks always stay at 20 seconds. Go for as long as you can, but your gym challenge is over when you have to rest more than 20 seconds.
#2 – Leg Press x 100+ Reps
Load up a weight on the leg press that you would do a burnout set with 20+ reps with. Bang out as many reps as you can, stopping to rest when you need to. However, you can never re-rack the weight – always rest with your legs in the extended position. Continue this “rest-pause” style striving to hit 100+ reps.
#3 – As Many Pullups as Possible in a Day
The point here is pretty simple – do as many pullups (using any grip / style you like) as you can in a day. Ideally you’d do this at home with constant access to a pullup bar. However, if you don’t have one at home, but do have access to one say at school or work, you can limit your time frame to several hours. Sets, reps, rest, timing, and the like don’t matter – just your total by the end.
#4 – Density Farmer’s Walks for Time
To do this gym challenge, all you need is a pair of heavy dumbbells, some space, and a clock. Pick any arbitrary amount of time (10-20 minutes is fine), and simply just farmers walk as far as you can before the clock runs out. How far you go, when you rest, how long you rest, and so on is up to you. Your main concern is to just go as far as you can. If you lack the strength for whatever reason to hold the dumbbells for long periods you can use wraps.
#5 – Alternating Dumbbell Snatch for Max Reps
Grab a relatively heavy dumbbell – something you could snatch overhead for 6-8 nonstop reps with good form. Snatch it overhead one time with your left hand, put it down, then snatch it overhead with your right hand before putting it down again. Alternate back and forth like this every rep, doing as many as you can. Taking a few breaths between reps is fine, but when you have to rest more than 15 seconds, you’re done.
#6 – The “Triple Drop” Upper Body Workout
If you want to not only challenge your mettle, but get one of the most incredible upper body pumps you’ve ever gotten, this is for you. The “triple drop” you’ll be performing will consist of loading up your 8RM, minus 5-10 lbs. Do 8 reps, reduce the weight by 50%, rep out, reduce the weight by 50% again, then rep out again. Rest 2 minutes and repeat for 4 total sets on each of the following exercises:
Seated overhead dumbbell press
Parallel grip pulldowns
Incline bench press
Low pulley row
#7 – Adding Jumping Jacks and Skiers after Every Set
This won’t sound like much of a gym challenge, but it’s tougher than you might give it credit for. Simply perform your normal weight training workout, no matter what the exercises, weight, sets, or reps are. The twist is that after every single set, you’ll immediately do 25 jumping jacks. It won’t be hard at first, but by the time you’re 1/2-3/4 of the way through your workout, the fatigue will really be starting to build up.
When that gets easy, bump it up from 25 jumping jacks to 50 after every set. When that becomes easy, do 10 mountain climbers then 50 jumping jacks after every set. When that gets easy, bump it up to 20 mountain climbers and 50 jumping jacks. For perspective, if you did a workout with just 4 sets of 6 exercises, you’d add 480 total mountain climbers and 1200 jumping jacks to your overall workload.
If you’re looking to test yourself or just try something new, give a gym challenge a shot. It could be burpees, leg press, pullups, or even just modifying your existing workout. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll find yourself huffing and puffing, sweating like crazy, and will likely be sore the next day. But you can take pride in now knowing just how hard you can push yourself.