The Ready-for-anything Workout

Want to be fit enough to conquer Tibet’s highest mountains? Or maybe “just” pass a fireman’s fitness test? All you have to do is master this exercise regimen.

Rock climbing Mount McKinley. Tossing a 60-yard spiral. Qualifying for a fire department fitness test. Competing in your local 200-mile bicycle race. Athletic challenges both big and small.

Few of us do workouts that can adequately prepare us for, literally, anything. But what if you could prepare your body to complete all the challenges above by practicing just one routine? If such a workout is what you want, then Sean Burch and his regimens, which have helped men run marathons and climb Mount Everest for the first time, are the ticket. The author of Hyperfitness and a world-record-setting mountain climber, Burch has helped numerous clients achieve amazing athletic feats through his training system.

Warning: His workouts are tough -- really tough. But then, he says, people, including young guys, don’t exercise anywhere close to the level they’re capable of. “If you can do this workout, completely mapped out in the 14 exercises below, there’s nothing you can’t do in fitness,” he adds.

To illustrate the kind of shape his workouts put you in, Sean went on an expedition to a remote part of Tibet, where he hiked and rock climbed for 15 hours every day, 23 days straight. During that time, he ascended a mind-boggling 63 virgin peaks (as in, he was the first one ever to reach the top of those peaks), all between 16,000 and 19,000 feet.

“My drills are meant to change the way you perceive and enact fitness, and were created to get readers in the best conceivable shape in the shortest amount of time. People are still separating their strength and cardiovascular training. This is wrong! Readers must think of their mind/body training as one entity to maximize the total body experience.”

Adds Burch: “The following 14 drills I use to sharpen my body and mind for expeditions around the world.”

The idea is to improve with each session until you can do the exercises completely through as intended. For a 30-minute killer workout, complete these high-energy moves in the order shown without resting, and build up to three times for each session:  

1. Inverted-V Push-up
Start in modified push-up position, with your butt up in the air so your body forms an inverted V. Stay on your toes, legs straight, then bend elbows while lowering head and shoulders toward floor. Go down till forehead lightly touches floor, then push back up. (10 to 14 reps)

2. Squat Palms Touch to Spread-eagle Jump
Squat, touch your palms to the floor, then spring up and spread-eagle with legs and arms. (15 to 20 reps)

3. Scale the Whale
Place one hand on a towel on a hard, smooth surface -- like the basketball court floor -- and get into runner’s starting position, with one leg ahead of the other and knees bent. Sprint forward the length of whatever surface you’re using, with your hand remaining on the towel that slides ahead of you. Then, assume the starting position and sprint back. Switch hands after 45 seconds and continue for another 45 seconds. Essentially, this drill elongates the hardest part of the sprint: the explosive start. (one minute, 30 seconds)

4. Riverdance
While hopping from one foot to the other, alternately tap your fingers on the inside of your raised ankle. (When you hop on your right foot, you’ll tap your left ankle and vice versa.) Increase the height of each hop as you develop more leg strength, and aim to maintain balance while increasing speed. (five sets of six reps; one rep is four touches)

5. Pop-up to Side Jump
Kneeling with legs and hands on ground, pop your body up quickly, bringing feet underneath your hips and arms by sides. Next, jump side to side, aiming for height rather than lateral distance. Return to kneeling and repeat. One rep is one pop-up and one jump to each side. (12 to 16 reps)

6. The Hyper Bound
Squat, jump forward or in place, then bring knees and palms down to touch the floor. Repeat. (20 reps)

7. Mountain Climbers
Get into push-up position. Keep upper body fixed, then bring right knee under body to chest then straight again, left knee to chest then straight again, right foot out to 3 o’clock and back again, and left foot to 9 o’clock and back again. Do in staccato, bouncy rhythm. (20 reps)

8. Staggered Hand Push-ups
Place one hand in normal push-up position and the other about a foot lower than normal so it’s opposite the rib cage. Execute push-up. Do eight reps before switching hand position, then do eight more reps. Repeat series for two minutes.

9. Rollup, Tuck, Rear Jump
Lie supine with arms stretched overhead, legs bent and feet on the floor. Bring arms forward while you roll up your body one vertebra at a time and stand. Jump, bringing heels to glutes. Then roll back down and repeat, in a fluid fashion. (15 reps)

10. 3-point Push-up With Jump-feet Switch
Get into 3-point push-up position (with both hands and only one foot on ground, other foot remaining elevated) and jump and switch feet after each push-up. (11 reps)

11. Triangle T to Full J-jack
Start in push-up position with feet together. Thrust them under your chest, then back to push-up position, over to right side, back to push-up position, over to left side and back to push-up position. Then bring them under chest and spring up for a full jumping jack. (15 reps)

12. Frog Jump Variation No. 4
Frog jump forward, beginning with feet wide and palms on the floor between them. Jump forward while switching hand and foot positions so feet go together and hands move outside feet. (25 reps)

13. Tricep Push-up Clap to Pop-up Squat Jump
Kneel and place hands in diamond shape on ground, directly below sternum. Form a straight line from knees to shoulders to top of head, and drop body down until arms are bent at a 90-degree angle at the elbows, then push back up and clap as you balance on your knees. Next, pop your feet under your chest and squat jump upward. (12 to 15 reps)

14. Flashdance
High-step forward with feet barely touching ground, as if ground was scalding hot. Clap under front leg throughout exercise. (aim for 50 claps)