The Sexy Challenge

The Sexy Challenge is the brain child of Bret Contreras and one of the best overall assessments of practical strength and muscular/structural balance.

Be warned though, it's not for the novice or the faint of heart.

The Workout

1 set of each of the following exercises for as many reps as possible.

  • Barbell Romanian Deadlift
  • Barbell Front Squat
  • Barbell Incline Bench Press
  • Chin Up
  • Barbell Hip Thrust
The Rules
  • All five exercises must be performed in under one hour.
  • Loads for the barbell exercises will be one’s bodyweight rounded down to the nearest 5 pounds (the one exception is with the incline press – women will use a weight equal to 50% of their bodyweight).
  •  For the front squat, any grip can be used and the thighs must break parallel.
  • For the RDL, no wrist wraps are worn, bar must go below knees, full lockout must be achieved.
  • For the hip thrust, the bar can’t touch the ground, full hip extension must be reached, and a reasonable bench height must be used (around 14"/35cm is ideal).
  • For the incline press, the bar must touch the chest, full lockout must be achieved, no bouncing off the chest, the butt can’t come off the bench, and the angle of the bench must be at around 45 degrees (remember women use a weight equal to 50% of their bodyweight on this exercise whereas men use a weight equal to 100%of their bodyweight).
  • For the chin up, each rep must start from a dead hang, the bar must touch the upper chest, and no excessive momentum (ex: kipping) can be used.
  • You can determine your own order of exercise performance.
The Rationale
  • Front Squat With Barbell Load Equal to Bodyweight - The front squat keeps you a bit more honest than the back squat (as reps ensue, most people turn the back squat into a good morning) and it’s a great measure of quad strength.
  • Romanian Deadlift (RDL) With Barbell Load Equal to Bodyweight - The RDL was chosen over the conventional deadlift again because it minimises the risk of poor technique (most people round their backs with the deadlift as reps ensue) and it’s a great measure of hamstring strength.
  • Hip Thrust With Barbell Load Equal to Bodyweight - The hip thrust is a great measure of glute strength.
  • Incline Press With Barbell Load Equal to Bodyweight (50% Bodyweight Loads for Females) - The incline press was chosen over the standard bench press or the military press as it allows for more absolute technique (people bounce the bar off their chest and raise their butts off the bench with the bench press and lean backward too much and use momentum in a military press) and it’s a great measure of pec and shoulder strength.
  • Chin Up With Bodyweight - The chin up was chosen over the bent over row for many of the same reasons detailed above; it’s much easier to standardise. People tend to incline their torso throughout the set of a bent over row and use momentum, the chin up is easier to ensure strict form is used and is a great measure of back strength.