Are you ready to make the descent?
This week’s workout challenge is inspired by one of the most well-known literary works of all time. So you can think of this as a workout for your body and your brain. Mostly your body, though.
That’s because we’re going to be taking a journey down 9 “Levels” of fitness challenges — that’s right, 9 rounds of exercise. And unlike a pyramid-style challenge that gets easier as you go along, this one actually gets tougher. Oh yeah, we’re serious.
“Why so cruel, guys?!” you may be wondering. Hey, don’t blame us, we’re just taking a cue from one of the greatest works of Italian literature in history. In case you’ve scrubbed your brain of everything you learned in high school English classes, we’ll give you a refresher.
Divine Comedy is the work of Dante Alighieri, an Italian poet who completed the narrative poem in 1320, after twelve years of work. Although relatively ignored immediately following its publication, it’s highly regarded by many people, including celebrated author and poet Jorge Luis Borges, who called Divine Comedy “the best book literature has achieved.”
The poem is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. The first part, Inferno, tells the story of Dante, and his journey through hell, guided by the Roman poet, Virgil. That’s the part we’re going to be focusing on here.
The poem describes hell as nine concentric circles, each its own “level,” where dwell the condemned souls for all eternity. Each circle winds further and further into the earth, with specific sins delegated to them that gradually increase in wickedness.
The first circle, Limbo, contains souls of those who, while not guilty of sin, rejected god (some without choice) and are therefore condemned to spend eternity in a deformed version of heaven. So, not so bad, right?
It gets worse. With each successive circle, the sinners kept within are punished more and more brutally. In Level 3 — Gluttony — souls wallow in a putrid slush, guarded by a vile creature of hell. Level 7 — Violence — engulfs its occupants in a river of boiling blood and fire. Whoa… isn’t this supposed to be a comedy?
Finally, Level 9, where… you know what, you can read about it for yourself, if you’re up for it. The point is, it just gets worse and worse for the souls trapped in Inferno.
Well, now that we’re all sufficiently terrified, let’s get to exercising!
As we said, this is going to borrow from the design of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. So Level 1 starts out fairly simple, and by level 9, though you may not be in actual hell, your body will be begging for mercy.
Each “Level” contains an upper body exercise, a lower body exercise, and something either for your core or a cardio-focused exercise. And as the saying goes, “Ain’t no rest for the wicked.” So there will be no rest between each exercise within the level. Once you finish a level, however, you’ve got 30 seconds to catch your breath and grab some water (which, come to think of it, may be pretty scarce in a place like Hell.)
Remember, this challenge is supposed to push you to your limit. If you cannot complete it all the way, that’s OK! It is a very tough challenge. Mark where you finished and try to beat that mark the next time.
Some of the exercises are measured by time, not reps, so make sure you have a stopwatch handy.
And remember, Dante was accompanied through each level by Virgil, so don’t be afraid to get a partner or two yourself. It can get scary down there!
Be sure to let us know how far down the Inferno you made it in the comments section. Safe travels!
Levels Of the Inferno
Push ups on knees — 6
Flutter kicks — 20
Bodyweight squats — 8
Push ups on knees — 8
Jumping jacks — 12
Bodyweight squats — 10
Push ups on knees –10
Crunchy frogs — 10
Forward lunges — 5/leg
Standard push ups — 8
Plank — 20 seconds
Sumo squats — 12
Wide push ups — 8
Bicycles — 25 seconds
Bodyweight squats w/ 2-second pause — 10
Diamond push ups — 10
V-ups — 12
Bulgarian split squats — 8/leg
Pike push ups — 12
Rocking plank — 30 seconds
Jump squats — 25 seconds
In-and-out push ups — 12 (6 in, 6 out)
Cross toe touches — 16
Alternating jump lunges — 8/leg
Standard push ups — 15
Long plank walk-outs — 8
Monkey jacks — 15