Also known as “freerunning,” this French import has you climbing, jumping, and maneuvering over and around whatever obstacles that stand in your way. It’s an awesome total body workout—and you’ll be more than ready for the zombie apocalypse.
The unwieldy heft of a sack filled with sand forces primary movers and stabilizing muscles alike to fire like no other. It’ll get you ready for a mud or military-inspired race, and it’s great preparation if you’re ever called on to aid in a flood. Make your own bag and put it to good use with our DIY sandbag guide.
Similar to a neverending ladder, it’s the absolute toughest cardio machine out there, training the core and back muscles and torching calories like no other, with virtual no impact on the joints. Hunt around the gym floor for this tall, angled apparatus (likely made by Versaclimber), politely unhook the treadmill dude’s coat from its handle, and give it a whirl.
The fabric sling supports whichever body part you have resting in it, so it’s easier to get a good stretch even if you’re not naturally flexible. Not to mention: bendy chicks in tight clothes. Look for it in your area under its other pseudonyms Unnata Yoga and Antigravity Yoga.
A barbell anchored at one end to a pivot point on the ground is ideal enhanced core training, while allowing potentially greater loads than you can safely control with free weights. Check the far reaches of the gym for a landmine base collecting dust, or simply wedge the end of 45-pound barbell in a corner and go to town.
Creating fitness tasks to do with heavy objects like rocks, cinder blocks, and full kegs preps the body to handle any circumstance in which strength may be called upon; after all, how often are you deadlifting or overhead-pressing heavy objects in your day-to-day with perfect gym form? Think Strongman competition and you’ve got the idea. Wait, did you say “full keg”?!
Scrambling, reaching, pushing, and pulling your way over and up craggy terrain challenges your core, coordination, grip strength...and sense of fear. Take it outside and skip the ropes and harnesses in favor of bouldering, which trains your body laterally, a movement pattern no one does enough of.
The Israeli martial art teaches hand-to-hand combat skills that inflict maximum damage. All the while, you’ll get in crazy-good shape, thanks to calisthenics drills that begin every class. Look for a training center near you.
Trudging through the snow wearing soles the size of tennis rackets is both aerobic and strength training and it makes bad weather no excuse for skipping your workout. Plus, you can tell yourself it’s the scenery that’s actually taking your breath away.
Who’d have guessed that whipping a super-thick rope as hard as you can into the ground would work not just your arms and shoulders but your entire body, and leave you panting for air? It’s also aggressively loud, and who doesn’t love to make some noise?
The water added resistance without impact, for heart-pumping cardio and killer calorie burn without day-after soreness. Both are great cross-training for marathoners and triathletes as well as for anyone who’s rehabbing from injury.
It may seem super-weird, but think about it: In order to launch these enormous tires end-over-end, you have to squat, deadlift, row, and overhead press, all in one fluid motion. It’ll also prep you for a side gig with the pit crew at the monster truck rally.
Used in CrossFit and making their way into mainstream gyms and even for sale on Amazon, the rings offer instability that allows for intense bodyweight strength training. And no matter one’s opinion on gymnastics as a sport, everyone thinks the iron cross is totally badass.
This unexpected blend of the Chinese martial art tai chi with jogging, chi running emphasizes posture, alignment, stride efficiency, and yoga-like breathing to improve running form and prevent injuries. ‘Cause let’s face it: No matter your age, you’re not getting any younger.
Pushing or pulling a loaded contraption against the friction of the ground trains the whole body for sheer strength and power. And who knows when you might need to be your own tow truck? Find a sled at your local gym, rig one up by flipping over a box and stacking it with weight plates, or MacGyver your own from stuff you buy at the hardware store.
This Brazilian art of self-defense was disguised by African slaves as a traditional dance so its practitioners could get away with becoming killing machines. You’ll work on your coordination, flexibility, and strength by kicking, chopping, and flipping through the air.
What better way to encourage yourself to run harder than being chased by the undead? Some of these races also throw in mud-run-type obstacles for an added challenge. All told, it’s probably less life-threatening—and more amusing—than running from those Spanish bulls.
What’s SUP? Stand-up paddleboarding mixes surfing and kayaking for a wet-and-wild total-body workout that’s insanely fun. Sign up at a local lake or on your next beach vacation, and maybe try these prep exercises so you aren’t insanely sore after your first day.
Grab an axe and get ready to do your best Paul Bunyan impression. Splitting wood isn’t just a way to have fireplace reserves for winter: It forces your muscles to work in total synergy—the definition of functional training—and shred your arms, shoulders, and abs in the process. And who knows, if you get good enough, you could test your mettle at a lumberjack competition (yes, that’s a real thing).