You’re not as badass as you think you are.
Read it again. You are not as badass as you think you are.
So you hit an all-time bench press PR? That’s great. I’m sure your Mom will take out to dinner at Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate. And yea, I’m certain the Internet really “likes” that you crushed a grueling set of 4×10 back squats. Wait. Hold on………..they don’t care.
The world’s filled with enormous numbers of quarter squatting, half repping, I-totally-used-muscles-that-aren’t-supposed-to-be-used-in-that-exercise badasses. And since my Spider-sense can detect posers from whatever screen they’re hiding behind (psst: that’s you), you better bet I’m calling you out.
President Trump wants to make America Great Again, well I’m here to make your workout hard again. Pfft, I’m about to make your workouts Battletoads hard.
Look, it’s high time you challenge yourself in the gym to see what you’re made of. So are you ready to crank the intensity up to 11?
5 of the Hardest Workouts that Will Test Even the Most Badass
100 Rep Challenge
The concept is simple: perform 100 reps of any of the big lifts — squat, bench, deadlift, pull-up, overhead press, rows. But this isn’t German Volume Training, you’re not training to 10 reps and quitting. No, you’re going to “try’ and perform 5×20. And when I say try, I mean fail. You will not hit 5×20.
Let me say that again: You. Will. Not. Hit. 5 sets. Of. 20. Reps. Now, you could hit 100 reps easily if you lift baby weights. But this is one of the hardest workouts known to man, and baby weights ain’t what this is about, brah.
So how do you go about selecting your starting weight? Easy: use your current bodyweight as a starting point. For squats, use your bodyweight alone. For deadlifts, you can use your body weight as well, or you can multiply your total weight by 1.25 and lift that.
Upper body work, however, is a bit different. For bench press or overhead press, use 65-70% of your 1RM for bench and 60% for your overhead press. And if you wanna test your back strength and crush your lats, I highly suggest using a small band for pull-ups to act as assistance — trust me, you’ll want that band vs bodyweight alone.
Your goal is to complete all 100 reps in as little sets as possible. Perform as many reps as you can at one time, then rest for 2-3 minutes. Your totals could look something like this:
The fewer sets you can complete this in, the more quarters your Mom will give you for games at Chuck E Cheese. Good thing you don’t need your legs for Skeeball.
Armageddon (1,000 Reps to Hell)
According to some website where a bunch of old cantankerous bros who’ve banged up their bodies for years and are on the cusp of popping Viagra still like to congregate to bemoan that gyms today are filled with puny weaklings claims this to be one of the hardest workouts of all-time.
Like the 100 rep challenge above, this workout is all about hitting sets of 20 reps. Except that you’re going to have 10 different exercises — 5 bicep exercises and 5 tricep exercises — that you need to perform in the gym. This workout challenge is all about variation. So don’t stick to only dumbbells or the cable machine. Vary it up. Use EZ-bars, barbells, dumbbells, the cable machine, and even designated bicep/tricep machines for this.
Here’s an example of what the 1,000 rep Armageddon workout would look like:
- 5 sets of 20 reps of EZ-bar reverse curls; rest 2 mins
- 5 sets of 20 reps of EZ-bar skull crushers; rest 2 mins
- 5 sets of 20 rep of Preacher Curls; rest 2 mins
- 5 sets of 20 rep of Tricep Rope Pushdowns; rest 2 mins
- 5 sets of 20 rep of Low Cable Curls; rest 2 mins
- 5 sets of 20 rep of Tricep Kickbacks; rest 2 mins
- 5 sets of 20 rep of Wide Grip EZ-Bar curls; rest 2 mins
- 5 sets of 20 rep of Tate Press; rest 2 mins
Basically, pick your favorite bicep and tricep exercises — 5 of each — and then rep out 5 sets of 20 reps for each exercise, resting for 2 minutes between sets. This is going to be one hell of a long workout. But if you’re looking for a way to really challenge your arms and push them to the next level, this is the way to go.
Note: you only need to perform this may be once every 4-6 weeks. Also, make sure you’ve got a few days of good rest coming after this.
This is my creation. Yes. I created this; it came out of my wee little noggin’, and I’m not going to be told that it sounds like something Arnold did back in his day. Okay, fine. I stole it from the Austrian Oak. But I renamed it because it sounds cooler, so that makes me — and it — awesome.
Arnold loved to “run the rack.” It was one of his favorite ways to end a workout. Arnie would pick up a heavyweight he could perform for 6 reps. Then he’d drop that weight, pick up a weight 5 pounds lighter, and performed another 6 reps. He continued running down the rack until he reached the end of the weights; he did increase reps as things got lighter to keep it challenging.
Spartan Saturday follows a similar outline. The only difference here is that you’ll choose two exercises per muscle group — legs would be one quad and one hamstring/glute based movement — and then you grab the heaviest weight you can lift, and perform as many reps as possible of that lift.
Once failure has been reached at that weight, decrease by 10 pounds and try to match, or improve, the number of reps just performed. You’ll continue with this strategy until you reach the 5-pound dumbbells. And then scream to the Swoly Spirit above: “WHY IS 5 POUNDS SO HEAVY!?”
When should you do this workout?
This was my go-to workout for cheat days a few years ago; I don’t do cheat days anymore because I hate the connotation of the word “cheat.” But I (usually) do this workout before holidays that involve a ton of food. This provides ample room for calories, and since many holiday treats contain carbs, it helps drain my body of all it’s glucose so I can refill it.
Hell Hath No Fury
Everyone hates on CrossFit. But how many of those people have ever gone through a CrossFit workout? Ten? Six? Two? None?
Look, CrossFit doesn’t play around. And outside of training to be a Navy SEAL, they have some of the hardest workouts on the face of the planet. The most well-known is probably FRAN. This brutal full body workout will leave you screaming for mercy.
There are only 2 exercises that you must complete: barbell thrusters and pull-ups. You must complete 21, 15, and 9 reps of each exercise all for time. The suggested weight for men is 95 pounds. And yes, before you ask, CrossFitters usually do Kipping Pull-Ups. But I ain’t about that junk, and I doubt you are either.
This will challenge most gym bros because thrusters, especially barbell thrusters, aren’t a move that you perform often. So you have two options: use dumbbells, or start with only the bar and move up in weight as you get better at the movement.
“But Robbie, you just made it easier. I thought it was supposed to be brutal?”
Okay, bro. First, I like not jacking up my shoulders. Second, I also like not puking. And third, if you’ve never even performed dumbbell thrusters with 10-pound dumbbells, you have no need starting with 95 pounds. Yes, this needs to be tough, but I’m not trying to kill anyone; I want you to train safe and without injury.
KBs are a training implement that many “bros” tend to skip over. But they’re one of the best ways to burn tons of calories, improve conditioning, and challenge your muscles in ways they didn’t know existed. Now, if you’ve never used kettlebells, you can start this workout by using one kettlebell instead of two. Once you’ve mastered a single bell of anywhere from 18-28kgs, then you can attempt moving up to two.
Word of caution though: don’t get too cocky.
If you were swinging or goblet squatting a 28kg kettlebell, that doesn’t mean you can do two 14kg bells for double swings and squats. You can half the weight of one kettlebell, but make sure you go down by 1-2 kg classes when you opt to go to two bells at once.
Like FRAN, KettleHell is done for time. In this instance you’re going to perform each exercise for 20 seconds; resting for 60 seconds between rounds. Your goal is to perform as many rounds as you can in 12-15 minutes. Use the Seconds interval timer that you can get for FREE on the App Store. Or you can spend $5 and get the PRO version.
Here are the exercises you’ll perform in order for KettleHell:
Double KB Swing
Double KB Squat
Double KB Snatch
Double KB Press
Only the Strong Survive
“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche.
Can you die from the hardest workouts on Earth? Man, I hope not. But if you can take down these down they’ll make you stronger. They’ll help you burn hundreds of calories. And they’ll help you build more lean muscle.
Most importantly, the hardest workouts on Earth will force you to become more hardened mentally. Being a badass isn’t all about pushing more weight. It’s about showing up and pushing yourself to do things you never thought possible.