Updated: Apr 9
What's your body truly capable of?
There is something inside each of us that wonders the answer to that question. That's why people climb mountains, surf deadly waves, run crazy distances and sky-dive from 10,000 feet. Whether you're a student, athlete, sportsperson or fitness enthusiast, this is for you!
We've put together 'The Big 5 Fitness Bucket List!' Not the big 5 African animals, but the big 5 fitness challenges to tick off on your bucket list before you die! We've thought long and hard about what to include in this list, considering the fitness components, existing trends and popular fitness pursuits.
Now, a word of warning: these are NOT easy! Each of the following has been chosen because they are almost impossible for the average person. They key word there is almost. There is no satisfaction in achieving easy goals. But there is also no reward in failing. Therefore, each of these fitness challenges is possible for the average person with months or even years of training, dedication, hard-work and consistency. But you've got your whole life ahead of you to achieve one or all 5 of these fitness challenges!
So, without further ado, here they are! Which one are you ticking off first?
1. RUN A MARATHON
Yep, 42km of running! A marathon is probably one of the most popular bucket list items. It is a gruelling, painful and rewarding cardiorespiratory endeavour. Marathons are run all over the world from inner city routes to regional farmlands and tracks. The world record for a marathon is 1:59:40 by Kenyan legend Eliud Kipchoge. Although unofficial, this feat is one of the most incredible physical efforts by any human, ever. But, for the rest of us, the challenge is simply to finish a marathon. This will require months of training for the average person to get physically ready to complete a marathon. A few key tips would include:
Starting small and building up. Start with a 1km run a few times a week. Then gradually increase this each week. Aim to tick off each of these milestones before the main event:
Get the gear! Buy some high quality running shoes. Suggestions would be New Balance, Hoka, Nike Asics.
Sort out your nutrition: along the marathon route there will be often fuel stations with water, energy gels, fruit and other snacks. Practice this before the main event!
2. RUN A SUB-20 MINUTE 5K
Continuing the running theme, the next bucket list item is a 20 minute or less 5km run. This averages out to 4 minute pace. While this may seem easier than running a marathon, it is much more difficult than it seems! For athletes, this may not be too much of a stretch. But, for the average person this may be quite the Everest! A few tips:
As with a marathon, start small and work up from there. Start by running 5km comfortably and then work on increasing the intensity and speed from there.
Use technology. If available, smart watches, phones earbuds can help with motivation pacing and timing. Some allow for auditory queues for time each km, pace or even motivational quotes.
Music can also help!
Run on flat ground when timing for your 5km. Also, pick a cool, still day to give yourself the best shot!
3. LIFT 2X YOUR BODYWEIGHT: SQUAT OR DEADLIFT
Switching gears, the next fitness bucket list challenge is lifting double your bodyweight - all about strength. This one comes with a choice: deadlift or squat. Deadlift is probably easier but squat would be more satisfying and commonly trained for some people. This one is going to take a lot of gym time! This is certainly not something you can rush. A well-planned, periodised, progressively overloaded program is KEY. A few tips:
Go to the gym. For safety, this is not something you can do in a home gym. You'll need proper equipment and spotters when you starting lifting heavy weights.
Focus on technique FIRST, before weight. You'll never achieve this goal without proper technique, and you'll be more likely to get seriously injured.
Do back squats, not front squats. Anatomically and biomechanically, you can lift more with a back squat.
If you're doing deadlifts, do sumo or trap bar versions.
Nutritionally, you'll need a lot of protein for this one!
4. 10-MINUTE PLANK
Now, the world record for an abdominal plank is 9 hours, 30 minutes and 1 second! This was done by Aussie Daniel Scali in 2021. For our purposes, we're only aiming for 10 minutes! While this is significantly less than Dan's attempt, it's still a challenge! The average person might be able to do 1 or 2 minutes without training. Athletes may push 5 minutes. 10 minutes is tough! A few tips:
Again, technique is key here! Protect your back, stay straight from ankles, knees, hips to shoulders. Head looks down and elbows are right angles with the ground.
You can probably guess what comes next, but start small and build up. Try adding 1 minute to your time each 1-2 weeks until you reach 10 minutes.
Top tip: Clench your glutes! They're the biggest muscle your've got!
5. 100 CONSECUTIVE PUSHUPS
Number 5 is another big one! 100 consecutive pushups. Yes, this means 100 in a row. This is great because anyone can do it, anywhere, at any time with no equipment. Now, the average person might be able to do 5, 10, or even 40 in a row. But it takes some serious training and discipline to get to 100. Pushups are a fantastic all-body exercise that relies on the chest, shoulders and core to be done correctly. A few tips:
Arms around shoulder width, head down, retract scapula, lower your chest almost to the ground and press back up. Keep head, shoulders and hips in line. Keep elbows in towards your side or out at 45 degrees.
Start small and build up. The best way is to do few often. Example: sets of 20 5x throughout the day.
Give at least one rest day per week.
Make sure you stretch your chest and shoulders at the end of the day.
It would be a GREAT idea to also work on your back muscles to ensure front-to-back muscular balance and avoid rounded shoulders and poor posture. If possible, aim for a 2:1 or 3:1 back to front workload. Good exercises would be inverted rows or pull ups.
So there you have it, the BIG 5! Run a marathon, run a sub 20-minute 5K, lift 2x your own bodyweight, do a 10-minute plank and do 100 consecutive pushups! Which one are you starting with? We'd suggest picking the one that will be easiest for you. Why? Once you tick on off, you'll be more likely to do 2! Then 3, then 4, then all 5! Start where you're at. Find more tips for training, nutrition and more with PE Buddy's articles, videos and website.
Our ultimate goal is to create a passionate, online community of 'Big 5er's' from all over the world pursuing almost impossible fitness pursuits with support, encouragement and motivation! For now, you can join our PE Buddy facebook group or use the hashtag #Big5fitnesschallenges on social media!
Let's do this!