HEALTHY LIVING
08/20/2013 08:42 am ET | Updated Sep 03, 2013

How To Train Your Body To Do The Impossible

A one-hour workout accounts for just four percent of our day. And though we try to keep this fact in mind when we're talking ourselves into walking to the gym, some days it feels hard just to get off the couch.

On those sluggish days, we seek a little motivation from the people who are pretty much our opposites: What would a true specimen of ultimate fitness training do?

Oh, nothing much, just prepare to run for 150 miles without stopping or lift twice her bodyweight over her head...

The human body is capable of mind-blowing strength and speed and power. These unbelievable fitness feats should not be tried at home -- but they are proof that just about anything is possible.

Run 150+ Miles At One Time
spartathlon
This is James Zarei. In 1994, he won the Spartathlon, a 155-mile race from Athens to Sparta, in 25 hours, 59 minutes and 42 seconds, stopping only for the occasional nap, snack or bathroom break, according to The Independent.

Yes, you read that correctly, 155 miles, or, if you want to get precise, technically 250 kilometers. Details aside, this is not your average road race. More and more people are completing marathons, but ultramarathons remain a goal for only the toughest of the tough. But, just like any race, they don't have to be so daunting with the right training plan. Runner's World has a straightforward one to help you work up to your first 50-miler in just 16 weeks. Seriously.

Hold Your Breath For 17 Minutes
david blaine water
Magician David Blaine is well-known for pushing limits, but perhaps his most unbelievable display was his 17-minute underwater breath hold. "As a magician I think everything is possible," he said in a recent TED Talk about the experience.

At first, he explained in the TED Talk, he sought out a way to create the illusion of not breathing, but when nothing doctors and surgeons could offer him panned out, he decided to formulate a training plan. For months, he practiced purging his body of carbon dioxide, then holding his breath. He dropped 50 pounds to boost his lung capacity and drop his heart rate. He slept in a hypoxic tent to increase his body's ability to carry oxygen. "I think magic -- whether I'm holding my breath or shuffling a deck of cards -- it's practice, it's training and experimenting," he said in his TED Talk, "while pushing through the pain to be the best that I can be."

Of course, even with rigorous training, holding your breath for long periods of time is incredibly dangerous. Researchers in the field hope to further examine Blaine's stunt to see if it may hold some medical purpose, Time reported.

Run A Mile In Under Four Minutes
4 minute mile
For years, a sub-four-minute mile was the running world's impossible goal, but once that barrier was broken for the first time, a number of male runners were able to achieve what once seemed impossible.

The fastest mile time by a high school runner is 3:53.43, established by Alan Webb (pictured above) of Virginia on May 27, 2001. In 2013, he answered questions from fans via webcam, where he explained that his mile training in high school consisted of lots of intervals at high intensity. His workouts were a balance of speed and strength, he said, "just like everybody else."

Lift Twice Your Bodyweight
sarah robles
At the 2012 Olympics in London, Sarah Robles set a personal record when she lifted a total of 265 kilograms and placed seventh in her weight category. To put that in perspective, 265 kilograms is over 580 pounds. Robles weighs 275.

To get there, she trains as many as three times a day, for a total of two to eight hours, she told The Strength Agenda in 2013. "If I am in a heavy training cycle I'll be training at 7 a.m., 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.," she said.

Leap Over Tall Buildings In A Single Bound
parkour
No, you don't have to have superpowers, but you do need some serious skills. This is Parkour enthusiast Jesse Turner showing off in Australia. His abilities have garnered him a stuntman role in the Wolverine franchise. But even though traceurs are willing to launch themselves off buildings and over walls, it's not without the right practice and training. Luckily, it's easier than ever for the average Joe to take to the skies, with Parkour Meetups, videos, gyms and classes.

Do A Split
splits
For anyone who feels far from flexible, a mere photo of a split can trigger vicarious pain. But a full split isn't as impossible as it sure looks. It's all about the hips and the hamstrings, which are both tight in those of us tied to a desk all day. But even active runners or cyclists often find themselves in need of a few good hamstring and hip stretches. Our friends at POPSUGAR Fitness share nine simple ones to help you get your split on.

Pull An Airplane
airplane pull
This July 2013 picture shows two World's Strongest Man contestants pulling a Boeing 737. That plane weighs over 34 tons. And while all the participants in the World's Strongest Man competitions are of above-average strength, it's hard work that got them there. South African Strong Man Etienne Smit reports that he trains for about two and a half hours, four to six days a week, doing a variety of weightlifting, cycling, jogging and swimming, in addition to practicing the specific events.

Construct A World-Record-Breaking Human Pyramid
human pyramid
A group of performers called the Castellers de Vilafranca are well-known for their human tower configurations -- and the records they set building them. Here, they attempt to create the first eight-level human tower on a rooftop, in June 2012.

So how do you learn to balance like a Casteller? First, you adopt the very practical motto: Strength, Balance, Courage and Common Sense. The rehearsal gym looks more like a circus school than a weight-training facility, according to a profile in Red Bulletin magazine. But strength as well as careful planning is essential. This is no willy-nilly climb, and the Castellers have the preparatory sketches to prove it.

Hold A Gravity-Defying Yoga Pose
side crow pose
It's certainly not going to be one of the first yoga poses you master, but it's not impossible to nail a gravity-defying move like side crow pose, pictured here. It requires arm and core strength -- and some patience! -- but breaking it down into small steps can help.

What's your greatest fitness accomplishment? Let us know in the comments below!

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