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8 Extreme Fitness Challenges

If you're already fit, it can be a challenge to find workouts that are challenging enough to help you improve your fitness level even more. We went in search of some of the toughest workouts around to help the fit get fitter! (Warning: We recommend bringing along water, a towel, and possibly a friend to revive you before attempting any of these high-intensity training methods).

Tough Mudder

First up? Probably the toughest fitness challenge we’ve seen—ever. Coined ‘Tough Mudder’ for a reason, this 10-mile obstacle course dubbed “the toughest event on the planet” features insane challenges (designed by British Special Forces) like 12-ft. walls, underground mud tunnels, and running through 10,000 volts of electricity.

If you're bored with training for a marathon, triathlon, maybe even the iron man, this might be the perfect new challenge for you. Just be prepared to sign a ‘death waiver’ before participating. In fact, it’s so tough, it’s where top fitness pros go to get their own butts kicked! Exercise physiologist and master trainer Amy Dixon calls it “insane,” (but completed it anyway) and Paul Katami, celebrity trainer and fitness expert, completed the race last year, describing it as "one of the hardest physical challenges I've faced.” (But he plans to return again this year). Guess that’s saying something!

For more info: Toughmudder.com

CrossFit

Picture pushing heavy tires across parking lots, climbing ropes, and hoisting yourself up on gymnastic rings… no, this definitely isn’t the gym. It’s CrossFit! According to CrossFit, they are the “principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.”

If you're already in great shape, this workout may be just what you need to graduate to ‘fit elite’ status. Find a location near you, or simply follow the CrossFit “WOD” (workout of the day) on their website.

For more info: CrossFit.com

SEALFIT

Similar in structure to Crossfit, SEALFIT, created by former Navy Seal Commander Mark Divine, “is structured to develop a warrior mind and body that incorporates the whole person. SEALFIT trains the body, mind, and spirit to operate at an elite level alone and with a team.”

You’ll tap into your ‘warrior spirit’ with ball slams, sandbags, kettlebells, Tabata training, and more during each workout—all designed by Devine. Spend a weekend at “KOKORO” (their mental toughness camp) and train with him and his team in person, or follow their WOD online.

For more info: Sealfit.com

P90X

Dubbed “extreme home fitness” the P90X Workout and P90X 2 (the newly released follow-up series) combines martial arts, strength training, interval training, and yoga to challenge your body with a variety of moves and exercise styles to help boost your results. The 90-day program, led by fitness personality, master trainer (and comedian) Tony Horton, is delivered via DVD set, which comes complete with a diet plan. You’ll have to have the discipline to turn on the DVD each day, but Horton will power you through each sweat session.

For more info: P90X.com

Insanity

If the name doesn’t tip you off, perhaps Shaun T’s abs will. Insanity is another extreme home workout program (created by the same company that produces P90X) led by celeb trainer Shaun Thompson that focuses on bodyweight only interval training to build strength, power, and of course, killer abs. This 60-day program also comes complete with a nutritional plan (After all, abs are made in the kitchen) and 10 DVD workouts. Get ready to go insane—and get amazing results!

For more info: Insanity.com

TRX Suspension Training

Sure, it looks harmless (How hard can a workout with two nylon straps really be?), but this basic tool takes bodyweight resistance training to a whole new level. You need incredible balance and coordination just to be able to use a TRX, let alone complete all the recommended exercises for TRX workouts, making it a great way for advanced exercisers to take their workouts to the next level—at home, at the gym, or on the road.

For more info: TRXTraining.com

Tabata Training

If you aren't already incorporating Tabata training into your workout routine, now might be the perfect time to start. Our body can adapt to exercise in as little as 20 workouts, which is why it’s important to challenge both your anaerobic and aerobic systems with workouts like Tabata, says Jari Love, a certified personal trainer and star of the “Get Extremely Ripped: 1000 Hardcore” DVD.

“Tabata will challenge advanced users because you are mainly burning carbohydrates as a fuel source during the intense workout, and then you will burn fat, which of course is key for those wanting to lose weight,” Love says.

The important thing to remember with Tabata (especially as an advanced exerciser) is that what makes it so effective is the extremely high intensity of the interval work period (Tabata protocol is 20 seconds of all out effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for 4 minutes total). The original Tabata study had participants exercising at 170 percent of their VO2 max—the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense exercise. That’s incredibly hard to do!

Tabata doesn’t work if you are doing complicated movements that take too long to get your heart rate up (that’s why we love these recommendations for a killer Tabata session).

Barry's Bootcamp

Maybe you aren’t ready to push tires around or crawl through mud, but you still want a challenging new workout. Go where celebs like Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba, and Allison Sweeney (host of The Biggest Loser) go to get their butts kicked: Barry’s Bootcamp. This ‘results-driven’ bootcamp combines cardio intervals and strength training with bars, bands, and dumbbells, all set to fun music and led by lively ‘drill sergeants.’ You can expect to burn about 800-1,000 calories per hour with this tough workout. Not a celeb living in New York or Hollywood? No problem. You can get your booty kicked at home with Barry (and his team) with his DVD set.

For more info: Barrysbootcamp.com

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