Your big lift figures might be super impressive, you hit the gym 4 or 5 times a week, and your muscles just won’t stop growing. But how is your endurance? You can do 60, 80, or even 120 push ups in a row…. but how many can you do in 10 minutes?
Ready to find out?
It’s always good to mix up your training. Who wants to be a one trick pony? When the zombie apocalypse hits, will you fight them off and get away? Will you have the endurance needed to survive?
However, on a serious note… too many bodybuilders and strength trainers are very one dimensional in terms of their body composition. They can hulk huge weights and win any eating competition they might enter, but when it comes to shifting a half, or even just one-third, of their one rep max, time after time, they will fail. In fact, when it just comes to moving from side to side they display weaknesses.
Possessing a good level of muscular endurance helps improve your lifting by pushing back your lactate threshold. Think of yourself as a sports car running at 9000 RPM; cruising along at 3000 RPM then becomes no problem at all.
So, without further ado, let’s unveil the challenges.
How will you do? How many can you even finish?!
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The squat is one of the core exercises for any bodybuilder or strength trainer. It is an intense lift using huge weights and hits a massive amount of muscle fibers. So you have thick, powerful quads, and you can squat big weights. But how many squats can you do in 10 minutes, using just your bodyweight?
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and put a slight, solid curve into your lower back, pushing your butt out. Putting your hands behind your head helps keep your back in a good position, but some people prefer to hold their arms straight out in front of them. Squat your butt backwards and make sure your thighs just break parallel with the ground.
Nice and easy at first, huh? After a couple of minutes, it starts burning. Keep going. Take short rests when you need to, and shake out. If you can get anywhere near 450, you’re pretty damn tough.
If this exercise is new to you, you should begin with a very light weight and get the technique down before you attempt 10 minutes. Begin with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and hold a comfortably weighted kettlebell in one hand between your legs. Set your back into a powerful position as with the squat.
This position should remain constant throughout this movement. Swing the kettlebell back between your legs while squatting into a partial deadlift position. Turn your arm inwards as the weight passes behind you. You probably don’t need to be told to mind your vital parts! Now straighten up powerfully, using momentum to swing the kettlebell up to slightly above shoulder height, with a straight arm. Swing back and repeat. Go for sets of 15-20 before switching arms. Place the kettlebell on the ground and shake out if you need to. After a short time, your back, glutes and shoulders start burning.
How many can you do in 10 minutes? Can you go the distance? If you can, up the weight of the kettlebell!
OK, this one’s self-explanatory. How many PROPER push-ups can you do in 10 minutes?
You can stop whenever you like. Shake it out, then get back to pumping through more push ups. Keep proper form, no dropping the hips and NO partial reps! The best technique keeps your hands slightly wider than shoulder width and keep your elbows fairly tight to your body. This employs the most muscle fiber efficiently. The world record currently stands at 546…. for one arm push ups! Get going!
While you’re down there, have a go at the plank challenge.
The plank is a core exercise in Pilates, it strengthens the entire core area. The plank also tones most other muscles of the body.
Get in position (see picture) then hold for 10 minutes. Easy, right? Nope. Most people start shaking within 60 seconds or so and from then on it’s a test of will and endurance.
Keep a straight line from your heels to the back of your neck. If you get to the point where you can’t hold the position, stop, you have failed. Better luck next time! But make note of how long you lasted so you can improve on that time on your next go ‘round.
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This is a tough one, and most of you know that because you’ve attempted it before.
Can you support your body weight for 10 minutes?
The ultimate test of grip will almost certainly see you fail multiple times at first. But this is all about building, so you have fewer times you are forced to let go. At first you might only manage ten, one minute hangs. When you can hold yourself twice, for 5 minutes, back to back, you are tough!
The Z Press is the ultimate way to cut momentum from overhead pressing. It also provides the opportunity for a seriously tough muscular endurance test.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and your back flat (pictured). Now, using the front press technique, smoothly press the weight above your head. Pressing an unweighted Olympic bar sounds easy.. but that bar weighs 20kgs, and pretty soon that’s going to feel more like 50! Pace yourself and take breaks when you need them, but keep pressing. If you can do 200 in 10 minutes, give yourself a pat on the back… and then try again for more.
Have anything left after the Z press test?
Try holding that Olympic bar above your head for 10 minutes. This is tougher than it sounds. Very soon the blood flow to your arms slows and things get tricky from that point forward.
The wall sit is a very simple, isometric exercise that is to the legs what the plank is to the core.
Begin by standing with your feet approximately 60cms away from a wall and lean backwards. Now, with your back in a strong, natural position, slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground. You should have two right angles in your body, one at the hips and one at the knees. Now keep your shoulders and head back, while holding that position. How many times will you need to stop in 10 minutes? Try to ignore the burning in your quads and glutes, grit your teeth, hang tough!
Yup, crawling, not shuffling like a baby. Check out this video for the correct technique:
After all those lactate building challenges, remember a top quality supplement to refuel your tired muscles. Look no further than Sheer Strength Labs Sheer Strength Recovery. This superb supplement packs essential ingredients kick starting recovery and rebuilding your body bigger and stronger.
Hold barbell overhead
Medicine ball shoulder roll
plank… wall sit… hangs… crawling
Jonathan Warren is a national level physique competitor and personal trainer with multiple certifications including NASM, NCCPT, and IKFF. His specializations include mobility training and corrective exercise as well as contest preparation.
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