Have you ever had trouble putting up five extra pounds on that bench or pushing out that extra quarter-mile at the end of your run? We’ve all been there. There are some guys out there that ask the same question, except replace “five extra pounds on that bench” with “lifting up a tractor tire” and replace “quarter-mile” with “forty miles.” There are some insane training methods out there, ranging from jumping through abandoned buildings to balancing on a bed of spears. If you were ever curious about how it would feel to have oxen tied to each of your arms or what it's like to change the shape of your shins in preparation for a fight, we have the workouts for you. These are the
No. 10 – 300 Training
At first glance the circuit training involved in the 300 workout doesn’t sound that arduous. Your old friends pull-ups, deadliest, and dumbbell press are there in hearty, but reasonable reps. The thing is that Gerard Butler and company were expected to complete the circuit, which is a total of, you guessed it, 300 reps, in under 20 minutes. Andrew Pleavin, one of the actors from the film, was able to complete the entire circuit in 18 minutes. Unfortunately, you can’t just CGI abs on for your next date, so maybe you’ll want to try the beginner version of the workout, and start making strides toward a Spartan bod.
No. 9 – Caveman Training
The fundamental principle behind Caveman Training is to “combine traditional conditioning, cardiovascular and strength exercises along with novel strength and conditioning exercises.” That might sound scientific and boring, but the result is anything but. “Novel strength and conditioning exercises” can mean anything from squatting pipes filled with water to swinging sledgehammers in the parking lot. Here is a video of some basic caveman workouts. If you're feeling particularly Cro-Magnon, why not add them in to your routine?
No. 8 – Ironman Training
For those of you unfamiliar with the Ironman race, it is a triathalon that consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon. All of this has to be completed within 17 hours. Training for an Iron-distance triathalon can take up to several years. Ironman training should be as carefully planned as it is rigorous. There a number of Ironman training plans out there like this 24-week course that are crammed with charts, graphs and tips for training for your triathalon the right way. We don't recommend training for this race without a plan or you might drive yourself to the point of exhaustion before you even hit the starting line.
No. 6 – Ultra Marathon Training
Have you ever thought about running one hundred miles? We haven’t either, but there are those out there who have. How do you begin training for an ultramarathon? Like anything else, you take it one chunk at a time. In this instance, one chunk is at least 15 miles. If you are at a point where can handle most of a marathon, then you could be ready to handle your ultramarathon in as little as 24 weeks. The trick to preparing for an ultramarathon is not only knowing when to push yourself, but also knowing when to rest. For example, a “peak training week” would include back-to-back runs of 15, 25, and 30 miles, but would end the week with runs at a pace that allows for maximum recovery. For a fun take on ultramarathoning, take a look at this piece from the Oatmeal. Mr. Oatmeal himself, Matthew Inman, has run a fifty-miler and lived to write, draw, and snark about it.
No. 5 – Parkour
Parkour has been parodied quite a lot in recent years, perhaps most notably in this classic scene from The Office. Sure, we have to admit it looks ridiculous when done poorly, but when it is done correctly, it is one of the most badass workouts around. Simply put, parkour is “moving from one place to another, negotiating the obstacles in between.” Sure, moving through your natural environment can be boring, but if you find the right environment, it can be crazy awesome. Like any great training method, parkour hones mental skills as well as physical. One Traceur (a.k.a. parkour practioner) put it this way: “parkour also influences one’s thought processes by enhancing self-confidence and critical thinking skills that allow one to overcome physical and mental obstacles.” It also looks awesome when done by seasoned veterans. No discussion of parkour would be complete without a dope video of Russian parkour, so, here you go.
No. 4 – Muay Thai Training
Don’t get us wrong, any martial arts training is rigorous, and we have much respect for any of you out there who may be an aspiring sensei. Muay Thai training, however, has some particularly rigorous demands that make it stick out like a broken rib. Muay Thai fighters use a combination of striking and clinching techniques, utilizing the “art of eight weapons”, meaning you are going to use your fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet in a fight. Sure, training consists of your standard fare, from jumping rope to shadow boxing. There are also some techniques that are unique to this style of martial arts. Shin kicks are a huge part of Muay Thai, and this forces would-be competitors to train their shins by repeatedly hitting hard objects against them, hardening the bone through cortical remodeling. Unsurprisingly, Muay Thai fighters traditionally have short careers in the ring and quickly move on to train the next generation of badasses. In case you are thinking this might be for you, check out this video of Muay Thai knockouts.
No. 3 - MMA Training
Your first reaction is probably, “Hey, there is no consistent MMA training.” In a sense, you’re right, as there are basically “no holds barred” in the Octagon. Preparation for MMA fights can look radically different from trainer to trainer. There is one consistent thread to MMA training though. There is not just a focus on physical training, but there a concern for mental toughness. If you watch this video of Marty Morgan discussing training Brock Lessner, you’ll see how this is done. Morgan throws in some crazy workouts like surprise weighted mile-long swims to push his athletes to their mental limit as well as their physical limit.
No. 2 – Navy SEAL Training
The Navy SEAL training program reportedly lasts 30 months, and it sounds like it is the most grueling 30 months that you can endure. By the end of their training, the Navy SEALS will be prepared to handle any challenge, including, but not limited to, diving, combat swimming, navigations, demolitons, weapons, and parachuting. In terms of the sheer physical demands, an "optimal" recruit will be able to do 100 push-ups in two minutes and hit a number of other tough fitness goals by time they are through with the training. What does this training look like? The exercises can vary greatly, from pushing huge tires down a beach to running as a team while carrying recruits. If you want to spice up your own training regimen with a helping of SEAL, you can find a copy of their training manual here.
No. 1 – Shaolin Monk Training
Though the Shaolin Temple is 1500 years old, Shi Yong Xin, the Abbot of the Temple, and his disciples, have continued to practice the venerable tradition of Shaolin Training through present day. Shaolin Monks undergo some of the most rigorous training methods known to man. These include balancing on a bed of spears, having each of your arms tied to oxen walking in separate directions, and hanging from your neck. Of course, you also will have to master the art of Shaolin kung-fu, as outlined in the 72 Arts of Shaolin, if you want to become a legit. monk. If you are curious what these 72 arts involve, you can pick them up in paperback at amazon.com.