in: Featured, Fitness, Health & Fitness

• Last updated: June 1, 2021

Hero Training: The Pulling to Safety Workout

Men saving the life of drowning woman in river.

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Chad Howse. For this series on hero training, every other week Chad will give Art of Manliness readers a workout based on building the strength and fitness needed to tackle a heroic task. Even if you never have to step in to save the day, it’s just a fun way to focus on functional fitness and motivate yourself to get in shape!

Let’s set the scene:

You’re headed down a crocodile-infested river with the bad guys in hot pursuit, fedora on your head, and a waterfall fast approaching around the bend. The current is strong, rendering the oars attached to your boat virtually useless. Getting out of the boat is not an option; the current would sweep you under and towards the waterfall.

It’s just you and your cargo: a beautiful young lady caught up in a mess that you are now responsible for fixing.

You notice a tree branch up ahead hanging over the river. If you can grab onto the branch as you pass under it, you can climb to safety with the young lady on your back, watching as your boat goes crashing over the falls.

It’s a do or die situation. There’s just one question:

Do you have the strength?

For this hero mission we’re going to be primarily working on three aspects of strength:

  1. Our upper body pulling strength and endurance.
  2. Our grip strength and endurance.
  3. Our core strength. Stability is going to be big with this mission.

To gain these abilities, we’re going to be doing a challenge workout. You’re given a list of exercises which have been chosen to help you build the strength needed to be a hero in this situation. We are lowering the reps and upping the weight being used, as we’re going to be pulling more than ourselves (the young lady).

We’re going to be doing a challenge-based workout because it’s the closest method of training to the real life situation. In instances like this you’re not going to have rest periods or breaks. You either succeed or you don’t.

The weights used in the workouts are split into three categories: beginner, intermediate, and advanced, depending on your fitness level.

Get each station set before you begin the challenge, as you don’t want to be wasting time setting up the various exercises. As soon as you start the first exercise, start the clock as well. Go through each of the exercises, taking minimal rests only when you can’t go on any further. As soon as you’ve finished the last rep of the last exercise, stop the clock: this is your score.

The Pulling to Safety Challenge Workout

Complete 30 repetitions for each exercise unless otherwise stated.

Weight to be used (3 categories):

  • Bent-over row – beginner: 45 lbs, intermediate: 90 lbs, advanced: 155 lbs
  • Farmer’s walk – beginner: 20 lbs, intermediate: 40 lbs, advanced: 80 lbs
  • Barbell curls – beginner: 45 lbs, intermediate: 65 lbs, advanced: 95 lbs

1. Alternating chin-ups – using a rope or towel

2. Bent-over row – using a rope or towel

3. Farmer’s walk – 60 seconds total

4. Barbell curls

5. Plank – 120 seconds total time

6. Hanging leg raise – 20 reps


Exercise Tips:

Alternating Chin-ups – if chin-ups are not an option, do a cable lat pull down.

Bent-over row – keep your hips locked in place and your lower back straight. Your lower body shouldn’t move during this lift.

Farmer’s walk – grab relatively heavy dumbbells. If the weights suggested aren’t heavy enough, add weight. Squeeze the dumbbells with your shoulder’s back and chest out in good posture. Walk at a slow pace.

Barbell Curls – try to limit swinging during this exercise.

Plank – keep your core activated and back flat throughout the exercise.

Hanging leg raise – There are two options here depending on your fitness level. If you can do a full raise, right to the bar, then do so. If not, then raise half-way up. Try and keep your body still throughout the exercise, just moving your legs.

Hero Training Workout Series:
Chase Down a Purse Snatcher Workout
Pulling to Safety Workout
Carry a Person to Safety Workout
Lift an Object Off Someone in Distress Workout
Leaping Ability Workout
Putting It All Together


Chad Howse is the founder of Chad Howse Fitness: a community dedicated to helping guys build a strong body and a strong life. The site focuses on building lean, athletic muscle, but also a range of topics including goal-setting, motivation, improving performance, and various other lifestyle and training content dedicated to helping readers build their best body and best life.

Related Posts