Absurdly Grueling Workouts

From the WebMD Archives

By Michael Austin

Esquire Magazine Logo With modified versions for you lightweights


This exercise in masochism was conceived by Glenn Ochal, a Princeton frosh from Philly. One day during his winter break, Ochal rowed twelve miles on the Schuylkill, then biked seventeen miles, then ran a 10k, then rowed another 15k on a rowing machine. To finish, he sprinted up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art fifty times. ( Yo, Adrian! ) The entire ordeal took six hours and thirty-four minutes.

Chance of collapse: 97 percent

So do this instead: Bike six miles or do forty-five minutes on a stationary bicycle. Run three miles outside or do twenty-five minutes on a treadmill. Row for thirty minutes on a rowing machine. Cool down with five easy minutes on a StairMaster.

Guaranteed results: Major cardio gains, plus broader shoulders and lats from the rowing.


The first thing the drill sergeants at Crunch make you do is strap on a ten- to sixteen-pound weight vest and walk for five minutes at four miles per hour and a 2.0 incline. Then things get ugly, beginning with fifteen minutes of running, topping out at 7.5 miles per hour and a 5.0 incline. Three sets of fifteen push-ups are next (with the vest still on, naturally), followed by five minutes of running at 7.5/2.0. A fast-walk recovery phase takes you up a 5.0 hill for three minutes with your hands behind your back, forcing your legs to do all the work. After that, it's three sets of fifteen bicep curls with twenty-pound dumbbells, a one-minute sprint (7.5/2.0), an easy one-minute walk, and a final, vestless run that increases steadily from seven to eight miles per hour over the final five minutes.

Chance you'll be hurled from the treadmill: 45 percent

So do this instead: Holding two-pound weights in your hands, walk for five minutes at 3.5 miles per hour, 1.0 incline, then increase speed by one mile per hour every five minutes until you hit twenty minutes. Still holding those weights, walk again for two minutes at 3.5 speed, 1.0 incline. Do two sets of ten push-ups, followed by two sets of ten curls with twenty-pound dumbbells. Finish with ten minutes on a stationary bike at moderate resistance.

Guaranteed results: Rapid weight loss, better posture.



Grover's clients (who include L.A. Clipper Corey Maggette) endure twenty "dumbbell grabs" (hundred-yard dashes while carrying dumbbells that increase in five-pound increments), followed by a hundred-yard bear crawl ("running" on all fours), followed by two "fireman carry" drills (fifty-yard runs while carrying a grown man). Grover's torturous regimen finishes with "object stacking," in which his clients lift stones, buckets, and ship anchors onto boxes of increasing height, from two to six feet.

Chance you'll make the Clippers' roster if you do this: 23 percent

So do this instead: "Line taps." Run ten yards, tap the ground, run back to your starting point, tap the ground again, then run fifteen yards, tap the ground, et cetera, in five-yard increments till you're at twenty-five yards. Then use five- to twenty-pound weights for twenty-yard dumbbell grabs, do a twenty-five-yard bear crawl, and carry someone smallish for two ten-yard dashes. Guaranteed results: Stronger legs (especially calves).


Sure, it defies common sense, but swimming with cinder blocks can shave tenths of a second off your time! Olympian Gary Hall Jr., who holds the American record for the fastest fifty-meter freestyle (21.76 seconds), swims twenty-five meters underwater, resurfaces, takes one breath, grabs a standard 17.5-pound cinder block, then does another underwater lap, cinder block in arms, kicking furiously for as long as he can. He repeats this drill five times. Oh, and before he even gets in the pool, Hall does lightweight circuit training: seven reps each of bench, incline bench, upright rows, pull-ups, dips, and tricep extensions. He does three circuits, for a total of eighteen sets, with no rest.

Chance you'll drown: 41 percent

So do this instead: Swim underwater, kicking twenty times before coming up for air. Repeat five times. When that becomes easy, introduce a five-pound weight. Do the lightweight circuit just as Hall does, but replace the pull-ups with lat pull-downs.

Guaranteed results: Tighter, stronger core. And more powerful lungs.

WebMD Feature from "Esquire" Magazine
Reprinted with permission from Hearst Communications, Inc.