550 Challenge

Many people complain that exercise takes too much time, or they can’t afford a gym membership, or they feel shy and uncomfortable with their body around others. There is an excuse for everything. So, here’s something simple and to the point for you engage in regardless of your excuses.

The 550 Challenge

Complete 50 reps of the following exercises, in order, as quickly as you can. Record your time and try to do it more quickly next time. As always, please consult a physician before engaging in any form of physical activity. They  know you. I do not.

Prisoner Squat

Stand with your hands behind your head, your chest puffed out like a super hero, and your elbows back in line with your body. Sit back at your hips and bend your knees to lower your body as far as possible without losing your natural spinal arch. In other words, don’t stick your ass out. Don’t lean forward. Squeeze your glutes and push yourself back up from the heels.Do not fully stand, locking your knees. Don’t cheat yourself. Just about everyone I have met, male and female, does lousy squats.

Jumping Jack

Stand with your feet hip width apart and hands at your sides, though not resting. At the same time, raise your arms above your head and jump, spreading your feet shoulder width apart. Land softly on your toes, not your heels. Keep your knees slightly bent (soft), not locked. Clap your hands above your head (if possible). Jump again to lower your arms and bring your feet together, again, landing softly, arms not resting, knees not locked. Repeat.

Mountain Climber

Start in a pushup position. That means a plank. Elbows are not locked. Your ass isn’t sagging. Your back isn’t arched. Your ass also isn’t sticking up in the air. The plank is another exercise most people suck at and don’t even realize it. Keeping your head in line with your body, bring your right knee to your chest, then as you bring it back to the starting position, bring your left knee to your chest. It’s not a hop. It’s a controlled motion. One foot is always on the ground. Alternate rapidly.


Assume the pushup starting position, the plank. Tighten your abs. Keeping your body rigid, lower yourself until your chest touches the floor. Your elbows should be tight to your body. Push back up until your arms are near fully extended. Do not lock the elbows to rest.


Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands to your head so your hands are by your ears, elbows out. You are not locking your hands behind your head or pulling on your head in any manner. Keeping your neck relaxed, use your abs to lift your shoulders off the floor a few inches, no more. Release back down, though not resting, and repeat.

***note – I am amazed how many “trainers” and “fitness experts” do crunches incorrectly. This video example was the closest I could find, and even then I do not agree with cradling the neck in any way. This will put undue pressure on the spine, which you do not want. At least she keeps her elbows out and does her best to not use her neck in the exercise. Gets me angry. Roc smash. 

8 responses to “550 Challenge

  1. A variation on this that I saw was to do these in pyramids, starting at 10, 15, or 20. So you’d do 15, rest, do 14, rest, 13, 12…. all the way down to 1. It’s a pretty crazy workout.

    Roc – how good are your squats?

    • I like variations to exercises, keeps things interesting for our bodies. For this, however, I don’t like rests. Hard to benchmark time with rests, as most of us take longer than we’re supposed to, don’t have the same determination to just get through it if we know a rest is coming. My two isk. I will be trying the pyramid without rests though. That sounds fun.

      As for my squats, because of my previous lower back injury, and the many injuries and videos I’ve seen of what can happen from improper heavy weight squats, I took a lot of time to ensure I had the form correct before stacking weight. I’d rather see someone doing 155 lb squats correctly than 345 lb squats risking their future with every rep.


      My squats are very good.

    • It’s still a pyramid for two reasons:
      1. The cycle is incrementing or decrementing.
      2. You are still changing exercises, giving those muscles some time to rest anyway.

      Not saying it’s for anyone. Saying I’m going to try it myself. Mostly just to one up you 😛

      To be honest, I won’t be starting at 20. Probably 10. We’ll see.

  2. Wait, you are going to do 10 of each, then 9 of each, 8…. with no rest in between? Ok, that’s interesting. Starting at 10 ends up being 55 reps, which is only slightly higher than the 550 challenge as outlined above. Still, it would be interesting to see if your overall time for completion would be faster doing them as a pyramid rather than 50 of each exercise straight.

  3. Damn you, Roc, and your workout posts. They pull me in. But a few weeks of reflection and focused spiritual adjustment can be just as brutal as a day at the gym. Much is change. The heart in Oreb is strong. Thanks for being consistent throughout that.

    As for squats, I don’t risk anything either. 145 lbs or two 50 plates on an Olympic bar with clamps. I do 10 forward lunges with each foot alternating. Push back with your toes to help remember to focus weight on that leg. Afterwards do a safe set of halfway squats (I’m only 5’7″ and use a bench to aid on my lowering point with power lifting, just don’t rest by sitting on the thing too long). When you have the comfortable drop point (you should never feel like your about to lean over), place your heels only (half your foot) on two 5lbs weights with good separation no farther than where your elbows would be pointing over, and finish off the lunges with some pain. Go as low on the full squat as you feel comfortable with. You can do a military press set before starting and kill off two birds with one stone. It’ll even feel like a warm up for your legs. This is about the easiest squat workout I can think of that hits every area.

  4. Hmmm.. Thanks for the advice on the vegetables, Roc! Much appreciated (was a while back and I’m sorry I didn’t respond earlier)

    On the pyramids, when I was practicing Kung Fu we used to do the pyramid with only Squats to Push ups to Sit up/crunches. No rest in between and starting at 14 working down to 1 and finishing with a 14, driving you that little bit extra. My point is, I really think you can do it without the rest between the sets 🙂

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