The Toughest, Most Brutal Workouts You've Ever Done

These are the toughest, most brutal workouts, sets or exercises YOU have ever done!

These workouts will leave you here...(like my last training partner ;).


A post shared by Nick Nilsson (@nicknilsson1) on


Name: Bonnie Hardie
From: South Florida

My toughest workout came on leg day. I put 360 lbs on the free weight leg press machine then did 10 sets of 10 reps leg press and 10 sets of 10 reps calf press, supersetting the exercises with no rest in between. After I did 100 repetitions of leg presses and 100 repetitions of calf presses, I put 1000lbs on the machine and did 10 reps of 10 second static contraction holds. My legs were really shaking bad at this point, but I was not done.

I then proceeded to, after about 5 minutes rest, grab a 100lb barbell and do squats and lunges. Supersetting 10 sets of 10 repetitions with both exercises. After these, my cardio consisted of sitting on the recumbent bike for about 30 minutes barely moving the pedals. I could hardly move for the next week - every time I sat down,it took me about 10 minutes to get back up. To recap, my toughest workout was:

leg press-100 reps-360lbs
calf press-100 reps-360lbs
leg press-1000lbs-10 reps-hold for 10 seconds each
squats-100 reps-100lbs
lunges-100 reps-100lbs.

Considering that I am a 42 year old woman-this was an extremely tough workout.

Name: Ray Thompson
From: United Kingdom

Workout from Hell

Note this workout was used prior to gaining knowledge on the correct way to train.

Warm Up
5 minutes jumping on spot, heels to bum every rep. Total 500 reps in 5 minutes.
1 minute recovery to stretch quadriceps and hamstrings
5 minutes jumping on spot, knees to chest every rep. Total 500 reps in 5 minutes
1 minute recovery walking on spot


20 Chins, chest to bar non stop and with full extension

Giant set the following 5 exercises Non Stop
50 Press Ups (chest to floor & full extension, arms right angle to body, using press ups bars)
50 x 15 kg Step Ups on 16 inch Step (body must be upright at end of each rep)
500 meter sprint on Concept 2 rower (aim for below 1min 40 seconds for 500mts)
50 Bench Jumps over 10 inch bench
500 feet on Versaclimber at 200 ft/minute or faster
Recover on cycle or walk on treadmill for 3 minutes

Repeat That Giant Set 3 more times

5 minutes recovery on rower

Giant set the following exercises Non Stop
20 Chins (close grip with full extension)
40 Hip Flexor (knees to chest and full extension, legs vertical)
30 Squat Thrusts (jump over a Reebok step base, so you can't cheat)
30 Press Ups (as many as possible are clapping press ups)

Repeat for three more Giant Sets with no rest. As soon as you cannot do another rep you move onto the next exercise.

Recovery on any CV equipment once you have managed to get O2 back into the body. Stretch and eat before going home to sleep!!

If performed quickly this is an amazing workout that can be performed in a short period of time. It works every muscle and system in the body. Levels of amazing fitness can be gained with this type of training. I was using this type of training from the ages of 40-45 and hence lead me to be successful in winning the UK Cross Training Masters title three times.

Ray Thomson

Name: Greg
From: Poland

Christmas Eve 1993 Saturday morning at 9 am. A beautiful day with around 3 feet of fresh snow on the ground. My martial arts coach decided to get us out and meet in the nearby park. Nobody had set foot in the park that day yet. We arrived at 9:15 at the park.

'Okay guys, we are going to work on endurance and speed today' my coach says, 'Do you see that poll over there?' (Some 150-200 meters away) 'You are going to run over touch it and come back as fast as you can' (in that freaking 3 feet high snow) 'and I am going to time you.'

'We will have only 5 rounds and than we will move on to work on technical stuff. Each run must be faster than the previous one. If you happen to run slower than on your previous run you would have to run again until you get it.....'

It took me 12 rounds of running to satisfy my coach. I could not remember my own name and while laying down in the snow I didn't even care that it was extremely cold. It actually felt good. Nobody could move on to the 'technical stuff' that day. We were all dead. Who could have thought that running sprints could be the one of the hardest workouts you could imagine. That fresh high snow was one of the toughest 'Fitness equipment' I have ever worked with.

Next time it snows in your area go ahead and try it. It only takes 5 rounds of sprints. Amen.

Name: Marc Lebert
From: Toronto

Hey Nick, great contest - before I read about your workout I immediately thought about a single set of squats back in the University gym as well... back in the day we called leg day 'Hell Day' and we loved it! So I guess I will have to go for one of my other favorites... after lifting weights for many years I met a guy who fought and taught Taekwondo. We became great friends- he taught me TKD and I taught him how to lift weights. He beefed up and I leaned out.

One of our workouts that first year of training was in a dank, old squash court with my instructor and another friend who will also rate this one of his toughest workouts. If you have never done any martial arts training let me tell you - it is varied, anaerobic, stretches you mentally and physically (ouch my hamstrings) and was just all around brutal. To top it off my friend gets a real mean look when he trains and that was intimidating as hell to us novices who were basically locked in a room!

The workout lasted 2 hours with no water and no breaks. It was kick after kick. Punch after punch and the grand finale was sparring him - which was basically like a cat toying with a mouse. When we attacked we missed (although he let us get some shots in) and when we were attacked it was all we could do to try and protect ourselves. It gave us a whole new look at training, the arts, and what it takes to get good at this new passion. This training at a whole different level for me. I do believe that, like many, much of my success in life I owe to weight training - I always trained hard, it gave me confidence and it helped prepare me for the hard work and discipline needed for the arts and I still love training in both today!

Name: Jeremy Hickman
From: Ft. Stockton, TX

It's funny I got this email about brutal workouts. I haven't read any yet, but its been three days since my workout partner (my brother) and I finished the most brutal squat workout I have ever done or seen done. Three days (today) after the workout, and my legs are still pretty sore. I could barely walk the next day. I have been training for about 10 years, but bodybuilding training for the past 6. (first 4 were powerlifting). Anyway, here's what we did.

I know y'all have heard of German Volume Training, right? Well I will do a 4 week course of German Volume training once a year or so for a 'shock' routine. We are on week 4, and that consists of 15 sets of 15 reps with 2 minute rest between sets. We were on leg and shoulder day. We did 15 sets of 15 on DB shoulder press, and were really tired after that. (We do Shoulders first because after squats it tough to do anything else, you're too spent).

Anyway, I did my first and second set of 15 with 225lbs. This was feeling good, so I added a quarter to each side making the weight 275lbs. I did this weight for the next 5 sets of 15 reps. My legs are burning, but decided to add a 10lb plate to each side for the rest of the sets (sets 8-15). This made the weight 295, and I did the rest of the workout with this. That's 8 sets of 15 reps with 295lbs. My legs were so full of blood, that the rest of my body felt numb. I drank some water, and sat down for about 5-10 minutes until my head felt semi-normal, and went to do 15 minutes of cardio to finish the day with a cooldown.

So there you have it. The most brutal squat workout I have ever performed. My body was totally spent and I sleep like a baby that night, but I'm still paying for it 3 days later.

Oh, one more thing, we do our squats rock bottom. We go all the way down. This has really helped my overall leg development.

Name: Rich

From: England

When I was 16 I found a real hardcore gym on the other side of my town. After a few months of being there I noticed a sign on the wall next to the leg press machine as I was about to leave go home. I walked up to it to read it (it was written on the back of a supplement poster, written in felt pen). It said that the record was 40 reps with 5 plates each side. I recognized the guy's name on the sign, and knew he was well built, middle-aged. I had just finished training my legs over in the squat rack (I was a real skinny lanky kid) but i wanted to have a go.

I got to 20 reps, little legs shaking in agony. After some strong encouragement by my two training partners I eventually got to 35 reps before racking the sled. All reps were perfect - deep, knees pushing against my scrawny chest. As soon as I got up out of the press I fell to the floor- I thought my legs had disappeared forever. It took me 10 minutes to feel ok enough to attempt trying to stand up and leave the gym (again). The gym owner gave me 2 cans of fizzy orange (to increase my blood sugar) and a free milk and egg protein shake.

I got a lot of respect from my attempt, and am now one of the biggest and strongest guys in the gym (26 years old now). I know I could get way over 40 reps now, even with 10 plates a side, and your email just reminded me of that day I earned my spurs! Thanks! I'm gonna call my old training partners up now to have a laugh about it!!

Name: Lina
From: California

The few hours before my Thursday workout I prepare. I prepare myself to do LEGS! I make sure I don't run or use too much force with my legs. Before I went to the gym, I prepared as usual, stretched and warmed up my legs. I couldn't prepare myself for the toughest workout I have ever had though.

I went in to the gym and my trainer told me I was going to do 100 reps of squats that day. I was thinking o nooo haha, but I was ready for the challenge. I did different types of squats starting with Dumbbell squats then Barbell squats, Front Squats, Rack Squats (heavvyy), Hack Squats, and finally jump squats. After 100 GRUELING squats, came the hardest part.

He put me on the bike and turned the mode to hill and pedalling was sooo hard. I was sitting there sweating and pedalling so slow. Every time I pedaled I felt the BURN in my quads, hamstring and calves. It was like riding a bike in sand, going UPHILL!

Those 8 minutes on the bike felt like hours. I was thinking about all the hard squats I did and it made it worse to pedal haha. After I was done I dragged my legs to the chair and sat for about 10 minutes. I tried to get up but my legs were sooo tired. It took only an hour to do all the squats and pedalling but it felt much longer. For some odd reason that was the best day in the gym for me. Even if it was the hardest!

Name: Nirmal
From: Wolverhampton, UK

The toughest workout I ever did was when I was about 25 years old. I could not put any size on my legs no matter how much I squatted. So I remember a friend of mine saying he use to run up flight of stairs in a high story apartment block to build muscle on his legs. So I thought to myself, I'm going to try this but instead of running up I will walk up slowly with a pair of dumbbells weighing 30 lbs each. So I went to this high rise block of flats... there were 16 flights of stairs to the top. I went early in the morning when I knew no one would be about.

I started off doing the first few flights no problems. By the time I got to the 5th floor my forearms were burning, thighs and calves were stiffening up. I paused for 5 minutes, started up again reached the 6th floor my breathing was if I had run a sub 4 minute mile. Could not reach the seventh floor - I was completely exhausted, dropped the weights and collapsed to the floor. Ten minutes later, I took the lift down and could not walk or pick anything for a week. Definitely the hardest workout I have ever had. All the best Nirmal

Name: Ron
From: Charleston, SC

One day I did 5 sets of squats starting with 225, 315, 365, 395 and 405 for 20 to 30 reps and after each set I had to lunge 500 yards each time I finished a weight. My legs hurt for 2 weeks after that. A buddy of mine dared me to do it and I did and it was one of the worst things that I have ever done. The lunge part wasn't tough because I have lunged as much as 2 miles at one time but together this made it unbearable.

Name: Mike Cohen
From: New York

I've been training for 30 years and the hardest workout I've ever done was the following. I have 3 long racks filled with dumbbells from sizes 2 lb to 100 lbs. I had 3 pairs of each size. The bigger weights like the 85s, 90s, 95s, 100s were on the floor of their racks. One at a time you'd have to pick up the dumbbell with one hand, walk with it to the other side of the room, which in my case was 15 feet, and place it down on the floor. Continue this one at a time.

Then when all the weights were on the floor, you have to go back and one at a time place them back on the racks. That's a lot of squatting and deadlifts. My heart rate was through the roof. I will never attempt that workout again. It was too brutal.

Name: Maya
From: USA

I have no butt. I will begin with this sentence to continue that I tried a lot of exercises to increase the size of my butt but everything failed till you sent me the special course for butt muscles on the net ...the toughest exercise was the one legged bench step squats ....I never did those before and when I did it the next day I felt that my ass and legs were on fire I swear but it did come with a result for my poor ass which is not poor any more ...I don't feel pain when I do the squats anymore - thanks a lot for this course!

Name: Matt Berry
From: Las Vegas, NV

3 total sets. 1 set is 8 different stations. 10 reps at each station. 1: Smith Machine Squats, 2: Regular Barbell Squat, 3: Front Barbell Squat, 4: Dumbbell Walking Lunges, 5: Machine Leg Press, 6: Leg Extension, 7: Dumbbell Walking Lunges (again), 8: Sissy Squats.

If you can finish this, add a Hack Machine Squat. I have never had DOMS this bad before, nor have I seen my legs get stronger and bigger from a leg workout. Thanks.

Name: Ken Petrocelli
From: Haymarket, VA

In my teens and early twenties, I was an avid weight lifter who achieved decent symmetry between most of my body parts, but seemed to be stuck with sticks for legs.

As a young Operating Engineer, I worked in a Hospital Boiler Room where we had tons of salt (100 lb bags) that we used for water softening. I happened on the idea that I could use this weight to my advantage by stuffing one of the bags into a backpack and walking back and forth to work loaded down by this weight. My workout wasn't a single effort; rather it was a program of sorts that I embarked on.

At the time, I lived in (hilly) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The road I traveled between the hospital on the south side to my apartment in Mt. Washington was about a quarter mile long (straight uphill and steeper than 45 degrees). I got permission from my Chief engineer to (borrow) the salt overnight and would carry the bag from and back to work. Over time, as I became acclimated to the weight, I would add smaller bags of chemicals to the backpack. My (burning) calves grew from sticks to stumps over a short summer.

As fall approached, and it got cooler, I tried 2-100 lb bags, made it about half way up the hill before the weight pushed me to the ground. When I hit the ground, one of the bags busted open and spilled all over the roadway.

That did it for me. I had accomplished what I set out to do and continued my less embarrassing workouts in the gym, doing squats and leg presses.


Name: John

From: United Kingdom

The Heart-Stopper Workout.
20-Rep Squat X Max-LBS Super-Setted with 20-Rep Stiff-Legged Deadlift X Max-LBS Rest 2 Mins, then 3 super-Sets consisting of Weighted Chins & Weighted Dips X Max-LBS X Max-Reps, 1 Minute rest between Super-Sets.
Keep a bucket handy.

Name: Jeremy Blank
From: Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin


I put 225 on the squat rack. Then behind me have 3 sets of barbells 100 lbs less what's on the rack. Then going up by ten lbs each barbell. So it looks like this

Squat rack 225
1st barbell 125
2nd 135
3rd 145

Squat 225 10 times then Deadlift 125 10 times, 135 10 times, 145 10 times. Then rest for 2 minutes. I don't take any rests in between any of the squats or deadlifts. Only after I have deadlifted the last weight do I rest.
I do that for 4-5 sets. Depending on when I puke!!!! Try this if you dare!!!!

Name: TOMO




Name: David
From: New Jersey

I went to the gym late that day so I had to eat a full meal before I went because I eat every 2-3 hours and it was already 3 so I didn't have a choice. It was leg day and normally all I have is a scoop of protein powder. This time I had a full 600 calorie meal.

I get into the gym and started out with a 20 rep and 15 rep squat, each to failure. I did 3 more sets of squats and felt like I was gonna puke. Then I went on to do 3 supersets of leg press with hack squats. At this point, I had to take slight breaks because I really felt bad but couldn't stop because someone was taking me home and I didn't have all the time I needed. Next, I did SLDL (Stiff Legged Deadlifts) and each rep I came up it felt like if I stayed at the bottom position for another 2 sec. I might have had to get a mop to clean up vomit.

After this I went to superset leg curls with calf extensions which normally wouldn't be that bad but it was standing calf extensions so I had over 4x my bodyweight on my shoulders and just holding it up was making me sweat. Finally, I finished with seated calf raises and walked to the car as best as I could. It was the hardest workout of my life and the closest I've made myself to throwing up.

Name: Ricky DaCosta
From: Brooklyn, NY

The Toughest workout I've ever done was this chest workout. I'm a basketball player and love to lift weights to better my game but this chest workout took my chest to another level.

First without warm up 2 sets of incline bench press. Reps 12-12then 3 sets of incline dumbbell press. Reps 12-10-8.

Then its 4 sets of decline bench press.(Sets 1 and 3 and with a close grip, and sets 2 and 4 are with a very wide grip). You increase the weights as you go up in sets. Reps 12-10-10-8

Then we move to the chest press machine. Here we do 3 sets at a very hard weight at 8 reps, then we lower the weight down to 30% of what was on and lift till failure (that's one set).

After we go to lateral flies 3 sets. We start off at a decent weight doing 10 reps, then lowering the weight by 20% and doing another 8. When done, we do push ups right away till failure (that's one set, We do 3)

To finish off the workout, 3 sets of dips and 10 reps then you walk out the gym crying. LOL

Name: Lisa Spector

From: Texas

Hi Nick, my toughest workout consisted of a marathon cardio session. My gym has treadmills, recumbent bikes, upright bikes, ellipticals, arc trainers and a stepmill. One day I decided to do nothing but cardio. I did the stepmill for 30 minutes, the arc trainer for 45 minutes, the elliptical for 45 minutes, the treadmill for 30 minutes, the upright bike for 30 minutes and the recumbent bike for 30 minutes. I did these 6 machines back to back, with the only rest coming from refilling up my water bottle in between machines. This was about 3 1/2 hours of cardio at a pretty good pace, I believe that I burned about 1100 calories total. Thank You, Lisa

Name: Bhupinder Singh
From: New Delhi-India

For over a period of one year I have been experimenting my body with the most effective, most pump, most quickest kind of exercises. The toughest of my exercises was on a day when my wife actually didn't want me to hit my rooftop personal Gym. She was to supposed to go out on a very important family function along with me & we were left with very less time to get ready for the function. I requested her that I will take only 30 minutes to complete my workout today. She agreed upon which I rushed to my roof top with 3 times the normal speed I would take.

This gave & saved me the warm up. That day I was to workout my triceps, biceps & shoulders. I decided to use complex supersets. I started with a warm superset of Barbell curls, Triceps pulley downs & a military dumbbell presses without rest in between each exercise. I did two similar sets & then took a 3 minutes rest in between the next exercise. In the next exercise I started with Barbell military press, then head crushers followed by inclined dumbbell curls w/o rest.

I repeated the same set & then took another rest of 3 minutes. The final exercise was Triceps extensions, Preacher curls followed by Dumbbell shrugs. All the workout took just 28 minutes in totality & in between I didn't have to chance to look up my pump in the mirror. After completing my final set when I chanced to lookup into the mirror I couldn't believe the pump I had gained with the packed house workout. I could feel the sweet pain in my targeted muscles for about a week. That's all I have to share with you my friends.(Note all the sets were of 5-8 reps till total failure).

Name: Andreas Smyrlis Liakatas
From: Athens - Hellas (Greece)

The toughest story that I can figure out right now is the opening of my company 'Sportview - Personal Training' and what I had and have to do to keep it to the top of my town (Athens - Hellas).

2 years now with some friends, who are also Instructors of Physical Education and Sports Science, we were talking about an open minded idea of a sports services company that will be able to handle a lot of material and situations and the past September, we made the big step and we started it! From this day on, but also 1 year before, I have been facing the toughest exercise of my mind, body and my whole self! Athletic Regards!



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