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Short On Time But Still Want To Train? Punish Yourself With A ‘Challenge Workout’

September 16, 2016

For some reason all of my friends decided to get married within the same 3 month span. As a result my life has been a blur of bachelor parties, wedding ceremonies, cocktail hours, and receptions — I can never really remember the after-parties.

Getting in quality gym time when you’re uber busy and traveling a lot for social, work, or family stuff can seem difficult, but if you know how to approach things you can knock out some great training on a tight schedule.

During times like this I’m usually looking for a workout that is short, intense, and capable of improving or maintaining my strength, size, and conditioning – enter ‘challenge workouts.’

Challenge workouts are exactly what they sound like; pick an exercise or group of exercises, pick a performance goal, punish yourself while attempting to smash said performance goal, sit in a pile of your own sweat, vomit, and tears while chugging a celebratory protein shake after it’s all over.

Below I’ve provided ‘challenge workouts’ that you can perform with or without gym equipment, the self-flagellation is entirely up to you.

If you have…


1-Rep A Minute For Time

Pick a lift (Front Squat, Deadlift, or Clean), pick a weight, pick a time (20 to 60 minutes) try to hit one rep per minute for the selected amount of time. If it’s too easy, the weight’s too light.

100 Reps As Fast As Possible

Again, pick a lift, and a weight, but this time try to get to 100 reps as quickly as possible.

Criss Cross Challenge

Load a bench press bar with your bodyweight. Step up to a pull up bar, perform 10 reps. Run over to the bench, perform 1 rep. Next, perform 2 pullups, and 9 reps on the bench. Keep going in this fashion until you reach 1 pullup, and 10 reps on the bench.


Half Mile Of Hell

Grab (2) 70-lbs DBs, (1) 60-lbs, and (1) 50-lbs.

Find a space of 40 yds (or whatever is available)

Carry the 70’s down and back, pick up a 60 walk 40 yds switch hands, walk back, pick up a 50, hold it over your head, walk down, switch hands, walk back. That’s one set. Repeat for 4 total sets with a goal of finishing everything in 15 minutes.

DB Rows

This one is super simple. Walk into the gym, grab a 100-lbs dumbbell and perform 10 sets of 10 reps in 10 minutes or less. If you can’t handle 100 then start with a lighter weight and work your way up.

A Pullup Bar, Jump Rope, Or Nothing:

Push/Pull For Time

80 Pullups and 240 pushups in as little time as possible. Less than 20 minutes is pretty good, aim for less than 15.

2 Minute Jump Rope

Get a rope and jump it as many times as possible in 2 minutes. For an extra bit of punishment use a weighted rope – the burn in your forearms and shoulders means it’s working.

Push/Pull Countdown

With no rest between exercises perform the following:

10 Chins

20 Pushups

8 Chins

16 Pushups

6 Chins

12 Pushups

4 Chins

8 Pushups

2 Chins

4 Pushups

300-yard Shuttle

Setup 2 cones 25 yards apart. Run down and back, continue to do so for 6 total trips (6x down and back) rest 5 min, repeat. Complete both sets as fast as possible.