Amongst Guiness Record holders like the man with the 32-foot fingernails and the woman with more than 4,000 piercings, the men and women pulling off extreme feats of endurance, stamina, and strength deserve some props too. We searched for some of the most astonishing fitness achievements—some amazing, some weird, and some just pretty silly. And you’ve probably never heard of any of them. (Note: All records are recognized by Guinness World Records.)
1. Most Countries Visited in a Seven-Day Span (By Bike)
Hailing from the U.K., cyclist Glen Burmeister hopped on his two-wheeler and didn’t stop for a week (except, ya know, to sleep, eat, and use the loo). The journey took him through 11 countries—the most nations visited in a 7-day span via bike. Over exactly 6 days, 11 hours, and 53 minutes, Burmeister cycled to the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania.
2. Largest Piggyback Race
What do you get when you toss hundreds of scouts (the biggest youth organization in Australia) on a big, open field? The world’s largest piggyback race, of course! In November 2012, 1,274 participants from Pascoe Vale South, Victoria, Australia (scouts and others) held on tight along the course to make it to the finish line. Only 710 peoplecrossed it—talk about an intense race. The previous record involved only 296 people.
3. Farthest Distance Climbed Inverted Up a Pole in One Minute
Chances are, you’ve never given this record a shot. And if you’re like us, you’ve probably never traveled any distance inverted. But in 2007, Germany’s own Nele Bruckmann set the record for farthest inverted pole climb traveling a distance of 31 feet and 11 inches. Bet even your local fireman can’t do that.
4. Fastest Half Marathon Pushing a Stroller
While pushing yourself along a 13.1-mile half marathon course may sound daunting enough, imagine running for two. In 2001, Nancy Schubring did just that. The mommy runner pushed her daughter along the Mike May Races Half Marathon course in exactly 1 hour, 30 minutes, and 51 seconds. That’s faster than both Olympian speed skater Apolo Ohno and Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman.
5. Largest Zumba Dance Class
6. Most Lifts of a 100 kg Weight in One Minute (Using Only Teeth)
While your dentist may not want to hear about it, there a handful of gentlemen duking it out to lift a sh!t-ton of weight from the ground by only their chompers. (The competitors bite down on a piece of leather connected to a metal rod and carabineers attached to the weight.) In 2010, multiple record holder Steve Schmidt attempted to break the Guinness record (then 24 repetitions at 100 kilograms—that’s 220 1/2 pounds) originally set by Georges Christen. Schmidt managed 50 reps. After losing the title two years later, in 2013 he regained it, knocking out 60 reps.
7. Fastest Serve of a Tennis Ball
In 2012, pro tennis player Samuel Groth had every right to tell his opponent, “You got served!” The 6-foot-4 Aussie launched serves at ridiculous speeds topping off at 163.4 mph. To get a handle on just how unbelievably fast Groth’s tennis ball soared, the fastest baseball pitch clocks in around 105 mph, and the fastest soccer shot on record is a cool 114 mph. Though Groth ended up losing the monumental match, he’s still got that record to hold onto.
8. Longest Time Standing on a Swiss Ball
The last time you spent 5 hours, 7 minutes, and 6 seconds doing anything, you were likely in a bed with your eyes shut. Ashrita Furman, however, decided to hop on top of a Swiss ball (also known as a stability ball) and spend his free time standing still on an unstable surface. Talk about core work. Like others on this list, Furman holds multiple records, but he’s got something that makes him stand out from the pack: He holds the record for most current records held by the same individual.
9. Longest Duration Maintaining the Human Flag
Known as the man with the iron arms, Wang Zonghua held on tight to claim the title of ultimate human flag. One of the most impressive bodyweight moves ever, the human flag takes some serious core and arm strength to hold the body horizontal for even seconds. Zonghua’s 1 minute and 5.71 second human flag hold is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
10. Most People Lifted and Thrown in 2 Minutes
While sandbag tosses may be one of the latest trends in strength training, Aneta Florczyk may consider that child’s play. On the set of Guinness World Records in Madrid, Spain, Florczyk lifted and threw 12 people in two minutes. The Polish four-time World’s Strongest Woman is also recognized for having rolled the most frying pans with her hands. Think about that the next time you make an omelet.
11. Most Push-Ups Using Back of Hands in One Hour
Known for tons of records and endurance feats—from 932 sit-ups with a 50-pound weight to most miles speed-marched carrying a 10-pound concrete block—pro athlete Paddy Doyle is no stranger to feats of stamina. In 2007, Doyle completed 1,940 push-ups in one hour using only the backs of his hands (ouch!).
12. Heaviest Aircraft Pulled by a Human
While planes generally transport humans and cargo, roles were reversed in 2009. Kevin Fast pulled a 416,299-pound CC-17 cargo plane nearly 29 feet. Fast, known as the Powerlifting Pastor, also holds the record for heaviest vehicle pulled over 100 feet and has lifted and pulled all sorts of objects (including 22 humans for charities, including the Lung Association, Tim Hortons Kids’ Camp, and Habitat for Humanity.
13. Longest Time in an Abdominal Plank
One of the most impressive mind and body feats on this list comes from George Hood, who held a an abdominal plank for 1 hour, 20-minutes, and 5 seconds, two days shy of his 54th birthday. (And here we thought a minute was tough.) A year later, Hood decided it made perfect sense to kill his own record. His plank time at age 55? Three hours, 7 minutes, and 15 seconds. That time stood until May 2014, when Mao Weidong bested him by more than an hour, holding the position for a whopping 4 hours and and 26 minutes.
14. Greatest Distance Traveled on a Treadmill
Hopping on the dread-mill for even a few miles can feel, well, dreadful. In 2008, Tony Mangan of Ireland took his few miles further with a 48-hour stint, clocking in just under 252 miles. That’s like an ultra, ultra marathon. As goes the story for many Guinness records, Mangan lost his initial record to Suresh Joachim, but he regained the title soon after.
15. Longest Hula-Hoop Marathon
Hula-Hooping on the playground at recess was no joke, and it's an even bigger deal to Aaron Hibbs. With a smattering of determination, a solid pair of tennis shoes, and proper attire to avoid chafing, hula hooping was a serious skill to tackle. In 2009, Aaron Hibbs shook his hooped hips for—wait for it—74 hours and 54 minutes (with one 5 minute break allowed each hour). The hoop maven had to stick to a lengthy set of rules, including the rules that the hoop had to revolve between the shoulders and hips and the competitor could not touch the hoop with his hands. After multiple attempts, Hibbs broke the 72-hour record set by Kym Coberly in 1984.
Originally published November 2013. Updated March 2015.