Are You Tough Enough? 5 Exercises Only Elite Athletes Can Perform

Beginners beware. These exercises are for elite athletes only.

You're a master of the gym. The Push-Up is second nature. You knock out Crunches like a machine. You do Pull-Ups in your sleep. The Deadlift, Squat and Bench Press are your closest friends. You've conquered all the basic exercises with impeccable form.

It's time for a challenge.


You're a master of the gym. The Push-Up is second nature. You knock out Crunches like a machine. You do Pull-Ups in your sleep. The Deadlift, Squat and Bench Press are your closest friends. You've conquered all the basic exercises with impeccable form.

It's time for a challenge.

Some exercises can be performed only by the most advanced, in-shape athletes. Just the sight of them is enough to make a novice seek shelter. They challenge your balance, strength, flexibility, technique and willpower. But if you're able to perform them, the benefits are huge. Here are five challenging exercises only elite athletes can perform.


For many people, simply achieving an unassisted Pull-Up is a huge accomplishment. But if you can already crush countless Pull-Ups with ease, you're ready to try the Muscle-Up. Muscle-Ups take a tremendous amount of upper-body strength and explosiveness, combining a Pull-Up with a Dip. Kipping (using your body weight to create momentum) makes Muscle-Ups easier, so only the fittest of the fit can pull off a Non-Kipping Muscle-Up. Check out the video above to learn how to master a Muscle-Up.

  • Muscle-Ups can be performed on both rings or a standard Pull-Up bar.
  • Hang from the bar using a false grip, meaning your thumb is on top of the bar as opposed to underneath it.
  • Perform a Pull-Up and generate enough force to drive your upper torso above the bar.
  • Push your chest out over the bar and turn your hands over. Your upper body is now above the bar, your elbows are bent and you have an overhand grip.
  • Push yourself up to straighten your arms and complete the Dip, keeping your chest out over the bar.
  • Allow yourself to fall and return to the starting position

BOSU Ball Pistol Squats

Single-Leg Squats aren't easy, but many athletes can do them. Throw in a BOSU ball, however, and it's a completely different story. BOSU Ball Pistol Squats are an extremely challenging exercise that will test your balance and punish your quads. They're phenomenal for any athlete who's looking to increase his or her lower-body strength and stability.

  •  Place a BOSU ball flat side up on the ground in front of you.
  •  Stand on the BOSU ball with one foot in the center and the other foot in the air in front of you.
  •  Lower yourself into a Squat, straightening your arms out in front of you.
  •  Keep your knee behind your toe throughout the Squat and keep your butt back.
  •  Once your thigh is parallel to the ground, push off your heel to return to the starting position.
  •  Add dumbbells or a weighted vest to increase difficulty.

One-Arm Push-Ups

Rocky did them. Bruce Lee did them (with two fingers!). Can you?

One-Arm Push-Ups have long been an exercise associated with extreme strength and general bad*ssery. It's one of those exercises that instantly earns respect and admiration, and deservedly so. One-Arm Push-Ups require technique, strength and balance. The width of your feet changes the difficulty of this exercise, so start with a wide base and become more narrow-footed as you progress.

  • Begin with one hand flat on the ground in front of you, slightly wider than shoulder width. Your other hand should be behind your back.
  • The alignment of your feet depends on your skill level. For beginners, they should be about 6 inches wider than shoulder width. The wider your feet, the easier the exercise.
  • Lower yourself like you would for a normal Push-Up. Although it is more difficult to keep your shoulders square throughout the movement, if you must rotate your torso to perform the exercise, that's OK.
  • Push yourself up to return to the starting position.

TRX Single-Arm Pendulum Swings

This exercise will crush your core. It requires technique, strength, balance and timing. It utilizes the TRX suspension trainer, and it's a favorite of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Throw in a couple sets of Single-Arm Pendulum Swings at the end of your workout and you'll have a shredded 6-pack in no time.

  • Begin in a Push-Up position with both feet placed in the TRX.
  • Swing your feet to the right side of your body, bending your knees and shifting your weight so that only your left hand is on the ground.
  • At the top of the movement your feet should be parallel to the ground, your knees should be even with your belly button and one hand should be in the air.
  • Return to standard Push-Up position before performing the movement on the other side of your body.
  • This exercise is a bit complex and difficult to explain, so jump to the :40 second mark of this video to watch Drew Brees in action.

Physioball Pike Roll Out

This is another core-crushing exercise that will put both your upper and lower abs through the wringer. The Physioball Pike Roll Out is a fairly simple exercise, but it covers a large range of motion and requires tremendous stability. If you're sick of doing hundreds of Crunches with minimal results, opt for the Physioball Pike Roll Out.

  • Begin the exercise in a Push-Up position with your shins on top of the Physioball.
  • Push your rear end up slowly, letting the Physioball roll down to your toes. Keep your hands flat on the ground.
  • At the top of the movement, your torso should be nearly perpendicular to the ground, and your body should form a near 90-degree angle. If you can't reach that position at first, work your way up to it.
  • Lower your rear end slowly and let the Physioball roll up your legs.
  • Continue past the starting position until your hips are above your head and the Physioball has rolled up to your mid-thigh. Use your hands to propel yourself backwards.
  • At the bottom of the movement, your body should almost form a straight line pointing toward the ground.
  • Use your hands to pull yourself forward and back to the starting position.

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