The Workout Bucket List

Over 300 Life-Changing Races, Epic Challenges, and Incredible Hikes, Bikes, Lifts, and Runs around the World, in Your Gym, or Right in Your Living Room


By Greg Presto

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Do leg day like America's toughest firefighter, join a bicycle race in the mountains of Colorado, or get pumped like a POTUS with this unique and well researched collection of exercises that will encourage and inspire you to try some of the most challenging and ridiculously fun workouts at home and around the world!

For most of us, exercise can be a dreaded task, one to be postponed, procrastinated, or avoided. We all know the excuses: exercise is boring; I don't have time for the gym; there's no room in my apartment; I need to be motivated. The real problem is that we're used to old fitness routines and the same monotonous gym equipment, but The Workout Bucket List promises that exercise can, and will, be fun again. 

Combine history, pop culture, travel, inspiration, and health and you've got the perfect book to help break down your mental barriers to shake up your fitness regimen. Author and fitness journalist Greg Presto suggests countless exercises and activities around the world—or in your very own home—for the ultimate fitness bucket list, whether it's biking with zebras, entering the Tour de Donut, climbing the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi, training like a Baywatch lifeguard, or starting your day with a workout that you might have done in the Titanic's gym. The Workout Bucket List is here to challenge you to try the world's toughest, most interesting, and fun workouts, inspiring the fitness adventurer in all of us. 



Cutting through the streets of Boston is a red line—a two-brick-wide strip that runs perpendicular to the rest of the city’s brick-lined streets. It’s more than a line, though: The two-brick path is a time machine that can take you on an instant tour of the American Revolution.

It’s called the Freedom Trail, and it connects 16 sites across Boston that were integral in the founding of the US. Starting at Boston Common, the famed park that was converted into a militia training ground, the path winds through downtown Boston and across the Charlestown Bridge to Bunker Hill, site of the first major battle of the Revolution. Along the way, you’ll pass America’s first public school, where Benjamin Franklin was a student. It stops at Paul Revere’s house, from which he started his historic midnight ride, and the Old North Church, where “one if by land, two if by sea” indicated the source of the oncoming British attack. There’s also a Chipotle… which was once the Old Corner Bookstore, where works including Walden were first published and sold.

Each spot is marked with a Freedom Trail insignia on the ground, and walking to most—or all—of the sites is a popular tour. But for an even faster trip through 250 years of American history—and a chance to see which sites you’d like to revisit at a slower pace—run it! The Freedom Trail is only about 2.5 miles long. Grab a map and a brochure from (or their free Freedom Trail Walking Tour app), or pick up a print copy at Faneuil Hall, where the National Park Service operates a visitor center.


To give yourself more time to explore Washington and still get all the shots of your smiling family in front of the monuments and memorials of DC, tackle the National Mall on a bike instead of on foot, and leave the sweat-soaked, grumpy groups of walkers in your rearview reflector.

Capital Bikeshare offers simple, no-contract bike rentals at stations around DC. For $8, you can get a 24-hour pass to ride and park the bikes as many times as you’d like. Grab one by DC’s Union Station, then follow this itinerary and ride the area’s extra-wide sidewalks to do a complete monument photo tour—fast. The tour can be completed in less than an hour if you don’t dawdle (and only slightly longer if you linger and take a few extra shots).

1.    Pick up bikes at the Columbus Circle station—just around the corner from Union Station’s northeast corner.

2.    Walk your bikes out in front of the station to snap a photo in front of Union Station’s dramatic neoclassical entrance, then turn around for a familiar view of the Capitol dome—in many movies, this is the shot used to show Congress.

3.    Ride down Louisiana Avenue, then turn left on Third Street NW until you’re directly in front of the Capitol. Snap a photo here, then turn around for a breathtaking view of the Washington Monument—your next destination.

4.    The Monument, at 554 feet, is the world’s tallest obelisk. Look north from its hilltop for a view of the White House’s South Lawn, and get a nice wide view of the Lincoln Memorial.

5.    Head west from the Monument to the World War II Memorial.

6.    Head south and make a right on the sidewalk in front of the statue of John Paul Jones on your way to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. At MLK, you’ll also get a postcard-perfect view of the Jefferson Memorial.

7.    Take the sidewalks to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial—there are two Capital Bikeshare stations here, so you can park your bikes to head in and see Abe. (This may also be a good place to pause your tour. There’s a refreshment stand by the memorial, and you can walk through the nearby Vietnam Veterans Memorial.)

8.    If you want to continue snapping, head back along Constitution Avenue to 17th Street NW, then make a left—you’re headed for the White House.

9.    Park your bike at 18th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, then walk back two blocks to pay a visit to the POTUS.

Congratulations! You’ve just done a daylong tour of DC in an hour!


There’s no better way to take in the scenery of the eastern US than on the Appalachian Trail. Two million people hike sections of the trail each year, but only 1,000 people hike the whole thing at once—going from Georgia’s Springer Mountain to Maine’s Mount Katahdin (or vice versa) in a single, months-long camping trip.

For Gary Sizer, the through-hike was truly the adventure of a lifetime: He had dreamed about it for more than 20 years since his days as a 21-year-old Marine. Sizer saved for years before quitting his job, strapping on his backpack, and hitting the trail in Georgia. He finished the trek on his 45th birthday, after 153 days of Pop-Tarts and Clif Bars, gnarled toenails, and weeks of diarrhea. Don’t have six months to hoof the whole thing? Sizer says these two hikes offer the best of the trail when all you’ve got is a day.

The Roan Highlands, North Carolina/Tennessee

Convenient parking can be found at the Carver’s Gap trailhead, leading to 3 miles of exposed hiking that offers 360-degree views of the surrounding five peaks, or “balds”—tree-free outcroppings of ancient Appalachian rock. For a day hike, start at Carver’s Gap, near Little Rock Creek, NC. Park by the trailhead, and head along the heavily trafficked gravel road for an easy hike to your first bald, Round Bald. Here, the trail becomes more rugged and the crowd thins out. Head for Jane Bald, then bear right at a fork in the trail to summit Grassy Ridge Bald. At just over 6,100 feet, this highest peak of the trio offers panoramic views of the highlands.

Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire, to Mount Washington

As through-hikers near the end of their epic journeys, they’re faced with challenging hands-and-knees scrambling up more vertical rocks and crags. Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern US, towers over them all. Its 6,288-foot peak stands near a place called Pinkham Notch, one of Sizer’s favorite spots in the White Mountains.

The hikes around Pinkham Notch are scenic and numerous: You can follow the Appalachian Trail south from the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center (in Pinkham’s Grant, NH) for about 1 mile to Glen Ellis Falls, or trek north along White Mountain Road to Thompson Falls—also about 1 mile away.

Or, climb the crown jewel of crown jewels: Take a full-day hike and summit the northeast’s highest mountain, Mount Washington, with a trail that splits off the AT at Pinkham Notch. From the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, head north along the Appalachian Trail to the Tuckerman Ravine trailhead. Follow the Tuckerman Ravine trail to the Lion Head trail, and turn right. Follow the rocky Lion Head’s path to the top. Maps are available at the visitor center.


The subway’s fine for getting around, but if you really want to see New York—or any city, really—lace up your running shoes. You’ll discover iconic views and glimpses of the town that are yours alone. Start your tour with these three routes.

Do NYC’s most popular park loop

When Strava, the exercise tracking app, compiled America’s most popular routes, New York’s most-run loop wasn’t in Central Park—it was in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. More than 180,000 Strava users have logged the flat 5K rings around the outside of the park, whipping past the lake and zoo. Start your run in front of the Central Library, where Flatbush Avenue intersects East Drive, which runs into the park. Where East Drive meets West Drive, take West—then just follow the loop back around.

Run across the Brooklyn Bridge

Foot traffic builds early, so you’ll want to get going before rush hour (around 7 a.m.). To start from the Manhattan side, take the 4-5-6 subways to the Brooklyn Bridge station, then head for the intersection of Park Row and the Brooklyn Bridge promenade. If you beat traffic, you’ll enjoy a wide (and wide-open) pedestrian path as you traverse the bridge a level above car traffic. The bridge drops you off at Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you can get a free early-morning workout on the fitness equipment at Pier 2.

Get an expert runner’s view of the skyline

Claude Melm knows the streets around New York as well as any runner: He runs his commute home each weekday, logging almost a half-marathon between his midtown office and nearby Fort Lee, New Jersey. The run gives the 48-year-old time to train for three to five marathons a year without sacrificing family time. And one of his nightly routes gives him an incredible view of Manhattan’s skyline.

Take the A train to the 175th Street Station, and head north toward 179th Street. Turn left to cross the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey. When you come off the bridge, turn left in scenic Fort Lee Historic Park, and take in views of the city on your left as you head south toward Edgewater, New Jersey.

In nearby Edgewater, turn around and run back north—past the bridge—into Englewood Cliffs for a break from the city’s bustle (but not from its unique charms).


Each Black Friday, masochistic cyclists in Pittsburgh bundle up and fall down 13 of the city’s steepest hills in a race called the Dirty Dozen (yes, I know a dozen is 12). They finish on Canton Avenue, America’s steepest street.

The street is absurd: Maybe 200 meters long, but pitched at an angle of 37 percent. It’s so steep that it’s closed for much of the winter because it’s too dangerous to drive. In any weather, it’s humbling to bike.

But it’s worth it. You will sweat. You will fail. You will laugh. The neighbors will laugh (they say they don’t mind). And whether you summit the hill or not, you will earn a big slice of pizza and a tall one to toast with any riding friends. If you make it to my hometown, give this hill a shot.


Skating an oval can be magical—at Rockefeller Center in New York, in the village below Half Dome in Yosemite, and at a thousand other rinks with unbelievable surroundings. But there’s something especially enchanting about an ice-skating trail—slicing along a path as the scenery flies by.

America’s longest skating trail is in Fairlee, Vermont, about a two-hour drive from Boston. There, the Morey Lake Resort’s skating path stretches for 4.5 miles along the lake’s perimeter, past quaint fishing villages with the wind whistling through the snow-covered trees, as youth hockey games get underway on plowed sections along the trail.

You don’t have to stay at the resort to skate the path—skate rentals are $15, and the resort updates the ice’s status each day on its Facebook page, The path usually opens in late January.


At the summit of Popolopen Torne in the Hudson Valley, a pile of colorful rocks overlooks panoramic views of West Point and the Hudson River. It’s a monument to deployed US service members, each rock a wish for their safe return by a climber who brought their stone from the bottom of the 942-foot mountain. Some are painted with the name of a soldier they’re remembering, others with unit patches to honor a fallen veteran. Add to the pile and honor a veteran of your own: Grab some paint for your own stone, and make the 2-mile hike to this ever-growing tower.

Start your hike of the Popolopen Torne Loop by parking along Route 9W in either the lot at Fort Montgomery State Historic Site, or a hiker’s lot at 701 Route 9W, Fort Montgomery, New York (each lot has a sign that it’s there for hikers to park). From here, you’ll walk across the 9W bridge’s pedestrian lane to the Popolopen Gorge Trail. It’s marked with red-and-white blazes.

Follow those red blazes for 1.6 miles until you meet a junction with a trail marked by blue blazes. You’ll reach a footbridge, cross Mine Road, and have a half-mile to climb the 586 vertical feet to the summit—still following the blue blazes. Deposit your stone at the monument, honor your loved one and other veterans, and see the two memorial benches erected by Eagle Scouts by the cairn. Descend by continuing to follow the blue blazes to complete the loop.

Things to Know

• This trail isn’t a breeze to navigate; download a map from a site like, and also use GPS to help you.

• The parking lot at Fort Montgomery State Historic Site closes at 5 p.m. If you start later, use the spillover hiker’s lot at 701 Route 9W.


Acadia National Park has breathtaking views—sheer granite cliffs, seas of pine, and tall ships pulling in and out of Bar Harbor—and a thousand ways to explore them. You could spend weeks hiking the Maine park’s 150 miles of rocky trails, biking its 45 miles of carriage roads, rock climbing the vertical faces of Otter Cliffs, and stuffing your face with lobster to refuel for the next adventure.

For some of the most heart-pumping excitement in Acadia, grab some iron. Waldron Bates, memorialized on a plaque as the “Pathmaker” inside the park, came up with an ingenious, exhilarating way for explorers to reach many of Acadia’s peaks: He and his fellow trailblazers of the early 1900s slammed iron rungs and ladders into exposed rock faces. Hoist yourself up the iron and you can get to the top of some of the most awe-inspiring views in the park—and get your heart rate pumping in the process.

These hikes aren’t for the faint of heart or those afraid of heights, but for the sure-footed, they’re must-dos. Grab a trail map, pack some water, and put these on your Acadia checklist.

The Beehive Trail

Perhaps the most-trafficked of the iron-rung routes, the route to the Beehive is a quick one. With many hikers venturing up from the nearby Sand Beach, small traffic jams can develop as unsuspecting hikers make their way up for incredible views of the sunbathers below. The rungs here are plentiful and the hike is short.

The Precipice Trail

The Precipice is everything you’ll see at the Beehive turned up a notch—it’s longer. It involves more rock scrambling up fields of square granite boulders. There’s more exposure, steeper drop-offs, and the iron rungs—some of which are pretty far apart—seem to stretch endlessly into the sky. The Precipice is no joke! Get ready to sweat.

Beech Cliff Trail

The quietest of the bunch, the Beech Cliff Trail offers a unique experience—there aren’t just rungs hammered into the stone, but whole metal ladders that help you traverse this clever route. At the top, you’ll have incredible views of Echo Lake, where there’s a beach waiting for you to have a post-climb dip in crystal-clear waters.


The Presidential Traverse is a single hike that summits seven mountains named for former commanders-in-chief—Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce. It’s a 20- to 24-mile hike through New Hampshire that includes climbing the five tallest mountains in the northeast US. You can do it in one day (but you’ll probably want to do it in two).

That’s not to say it’s easy: The Traverse reaches 9,000 to 10,000 vertical feet along its route, and even in summer, can involve some unpredictable weather. The White Mountains of New Hampshire are the windiest range in the country, including Mount Washington, where hurricane-force gusts can be felt more than a hundred days a year.

Windy or not, Washington is one of the nation’s most famous peaks, and along the other summits you’ll find superb scenery to photograph on these 300-million-year-old mountains. On a clear day, views along the route extend into Vermont, and even Maine.

Things to Know

• Most hikers start on the northern end of the Traverse, at the base of Mount Madison, in order to climb the range’s most difficult mountains—Madison, Jefferson, Adams, and Washington—while their legs are still fresh. Begin your hike at the Highland Center Lodge at Crawford Notch, where you can pick up maps and park.

• You can climb all seven peaks in one day, but two days is more manageable. There are three overnight huts along the route: Madison Spring, Mizpah Spring, and Lakes of the Clouds. The latter is closest to the middle—for $155, you can reserve a bed with dinner and breakfast in the bunkroom-style lodge and take a well-earned rest after conquering the first four peaks. Visit and click on “LODGING.”


It’s not in the mist of Yosemite, in the volcanoes of Hawaii, or tramping through Yellowstone: America’s “Best National Park Hike,” according to readers of USA Today, is in West Virginia. The Endless Wall Trail, leading to panoramic views above the New River Gorge, took the honor—and it’s easy to tread yourself and see why.

The 2.4-mile hike only takes about 90 minutes to complete, climbing through lush hemlock forests and rhododendron bushes so thick they create tunnels that hikers must sometimes crawl through—a delight in June when they’re thick with pink and purple blooms. Continue as the trail zigzags along the cliff edge, rising a thousand feet above New River’s dramatic gorge, where rock climbers scale the near-vertical sandstone above white-water rafters in the river below.

At the trail’s summit, you’ll reach Diamond Point, an overlook that makes the name of the trail obvious: The gorge’s “Endless Wall” of sandstone stretches in both directions to the horizons, offering views more than a mile upstream and down before bending with the river. Your photos will be epic.

To get there: Point your GPS to the Endless Wall Trailhead in New River Gorge National Park. The trailhead is about 1.3 miles from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, where you can pick up a map.

Things to Know


On Sale
Apr 26, 2022
Page Count
400 pages
Running Press

Greg Presto

About the Author

Greg Presto is a fitness journalist, video host, and producer who worked for years covering health, fitness, and sports as the fitness editor for Men's Health,, and Livestrong. He has written for Women's Health,, Vice Health, USA Today, and, among others.

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