What do a human flag, iron cross, and front lever have in common? Not many people can do them. Why? Because they’re some of the hardest exercises out there.
One of the great things about fitness is that it never has to get boring. There are always ways to improve and new things to try. While there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the fundamentals, we decided to put together a list of the top ten hardest exercises to give you a serious challenge.
If you are sick and tired of standard bench presses and squats, add in some of the exercises from our list below to your workout routine.
WARNING: These are NOT for beginners! If you try these without preparing for them and training properly beforehand, you will likely injure yourself.
To build the strength required for the exercises listed below, go PRO today for access to certified personal trainers, strength-building workout plans, training logs, and more!
#10. Aztec Push-up
We’re starting off with the simple Aztec push-up. All you have to do is explode out of the standard push-up position, bend at the waist to touch your toes while keeping your legs straight, and land back in starting position.
Pretty straightforward, right? Well, it sounds easy enough, until you try it. To work your way up to this, we recommend first perfecting plyometric push-ups and walking push-ups. As soon as you’ve got it down, you’ve completed the Aztec Push-up Challenge!
#9. Two-Fingers Push-up
Remember Bruce Lee? He was not only among the fittest people ever, he liked to make things hard for himself. Why use two hands to do push-ups, when you can use two fingers instead? He loved the two-fingers push-up.
These are tough because they’re not just hard on the major arm muscles, but are taxing for your fingers as well.
Even if you’re not a Kung Fu master showing off for a crowd, repping these out can get you some serious style points!
You should work on your one-arm push-up technique and some forearm exercises like the wrist roller before you try putting all of your weight on just two fingers. There’s no doubt that Bruce Lee will be proud when you finish the Two-Fingers Push-up Challenge.
#8. Superman Push-up
The superman push-up looks pretty easy, but looks can be deceiving.
Put your hands out in front of you on the ground and use your shoulders and core to lift yourself off the ground. You can’t touch the ground with anything but your hands and toes.
Before attempting the superman push-up, get in a lot of front dumbell raises and pull-ups first to work on your upper body strength; additionally, work on core-strengthening exercises like roman chair leg raises and weighted decline Russian twists.
If you can finish the Superman Push-up Challenge, you’re off to a great start on our hardest exercises list, but there is still a long way to go…
#7. One-Arm Ab Roller
We’ve all seen the different ab roller routines, but have you tried this move with just one arm?
Keeping your balance with just one arm and having the strength to keep from falling flat on your face is going to be tough, and that’s only half the battle. You still have to get back up to where you started.
The One-Arm Ab Roller Challenge is pretty extreme. Note from the video below that he uses a dumbbell that will roll, rather than the traditional ab wheel.
#6. One Finger Pull-up
The pull-up is one of the best exercises you can do because it works a lot of muscles and can be done on anything that you can hang from safely.
One finger pull-ups, however, are a bit more problematic. You don’t want to hang there and unable to move, and you don’t want to dislocate your finger. If you feel a lot of pain in your finger when you start to hang on it, you’re probably not ready to try this one yet.
Needless to say, the One-Finger Pull-up Challenge is no joke! If you can handle that, you can do anything, right? Well, you might want to hold that thought until you get to the end of our hardest exercises list. Below are the top five hardest exercises for fitness enthusiasts. First up is the planche push-up.
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#5. Planche Push-up
The planche push-up is a perfect example of getting a good workout in without the need for equipment. With just a few feet of open space, you can give these a shot.
It’s not just a great arm workout, it requires some serious core strength, too. Note that this is a movement where you’re at risk of falling on your face if you try it without being well-prepared. Some great exercises to prepare you for the Planche Push-up Challenge are the bench dip, L-sit on the dip bar, and the close-grip bench press.
#4. Front Lever Pull-up
Pull-ups themselves aren’t easy, but some people tend to get bored with just the basics, so they add variations to increase the difficulty.
The front lever is a hard enough exercise on its own, but it’s even more challenging when combined with a pull-up.
The front lever pull-up will work just about every muscle on the front of your body; this means that your risk for injury is quite high. Prior to incorporating front lever pull-ups into your routine, make sure that you’re able to perform multiple hanging leg raises with ease. Then, move on to the front lever without a pull-up included. Once you have the front lever down, you are ready to progress to front lever pull-ups and can attempt the Front Lever Pull-up Challenge.
#3. 90-Degree Push-up
Start with a handstand, then lower yourself down until your body is in a straight line parallel to the floor, then complete the previously mentioned planche push-up before going back up to the handstand position.
Before you even think about trying this, work on your handstand, then your handstand push-ups. Once you’ve got those down, go ahead and master the previously mentioned planche push-up. After that, you might be ready to do the 90-degree push-up. Have a pillow strategically placed on the floor to land on – just in case.
Once you’ve put the time in to complete the 90 Degree Push-up Challenge, show it off to your friends, and get ready for the next one!
#2. Ring Iron Cross
Gymnasts train a lot. They’re in amazing shape with cardio, strength, and flexibility all being necessary for success in their sport. They might even find some of these exercises relatively easy, but the ring iron cross is one of the toughest gymnastics moves there is!
The world record for holding this the longest belongs to Zak Kerkoulas: 29.23 seconds!
If you’re planning on attempting this move, make sure you get your shoulders, chest, and core up to par before giving it a shot. Considering that the world record for this exercise is holding it for under 30 seconds, we don’t expect you to hold it too long when you attempt the Ring Iron Cross Challenge. Don’t lower yourself down without pausing to hold for at least a few seconds, though!
#1. Human Flag
What’s the hardest exercise ever? We’re going with the human flag. This one requires ridiculous core strength in addition to the amount of upper body strength required to hold yourself in a straight line. You’re also going to need some leg strength to get the full extension.
Remember: you’re holding your body in a straight line out from whatever you’re hanging on to. Just because it’s called the human flag, doesn’t mean you should sway back and forth – keep it steady! While you don’t have to hold yourself out in a straight line all day for the Human Flag Challenge, you should aim for 5-10 seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How many days a week should I exercise?
Three to five workouts a week is recommended for best results.
How do I create my own workout plan?
You can either sign up for an Exercise.com PRO membership or enlist the help of a personal trainer!
What should I do on my rest days?
Sleep, hydrate, eat well, foam roll, and engage in enjoyable movement.
You’re probably going to need to stick to a serious workout plan for a while before you even think about attempting any of the workouts above. Go PRO today for access to certified personal trainers, workout plans, and more!