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10 Amazing Feats Achieved by Human Beings

Updated on May 28, 2011

"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible."

We as human beings are all bound by the limits assigned to us by nature. The following article features some people who surpassed these limits and performed acts considered by many as "impossible" or "superhuman". It is the existence of people like these that go to show the immense capability of our species.

(10) | Wim Hof "Iceman"

Climbed Mount Everest & Mount Kilimanjaro in only shorts

Wim Hof is a Dutch endurance artist who currently holds 18 world records for his superhuman acts in which he demonstrates his abiltity to withstand extreme cold. In 2007 he attempted to climb Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts. He failed in this attempt because of a foot injury, but in 2009 went on to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in only two days, again wearing nothing but shorts. Other amazing feats performed by Hof include completing a full marathon above the Polar Circle in Finland in temperatures close to -20°C (-4°F), yet again wearing only shorts; and also submerging himself fully in ice for 1 hour and 44 minutes, breaking his own previous world record for longest time in an ice bath.

Wim Hof explains how he performs his endurance acts in the video below.

Bonus Video - Documentary about Wim Hof

(9) | Vesna Vulovic

Survived a fall of 33,330ft without a parachute

Vesna Vulovic is a former serbian flight attendant who currently holds the world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute. On 26 January 1972 during a flight over Czechoslovakia a bomb planted by Croatian terrorists exploded in the baggage section of the aircraft causing the plane to break into pieces. The plane fell approximately 33,330ft before hitting the ground. Vesna was the sole survivor. She was found by a German former WWII medic pinned against a dead passenger and a catering trolley. Despite suffering temporary paralysis caused by 3 broken vertebrae and a fractured skull and two fractured legs, Vesna continued to fly sporadically after her ordeal, commenting to newspapers that she has no fear of flying whatsoever.

Bonus Video - A similar fall survival feat

(8) | Herbert Nitsch

Dived down 214m on a single breath

Herbert Nitsch is an austrian Free-diver who achieved the title of "Deepest man on Earth" after he broke the world record for deepest dive on a single breath. He dived down just over 214m below sea level which is almost the equivalent height of London's Canary Wharf. Since then he has broken 30 other guinness world records for free-diving.

Bonus Video - Herbert Nitsch free diving world record

(7) | John Holtum

Caught a cannonball in his hands

John Holtum, was a strongman from Denmark who drew immense crowds in cities around the world by perfecting the cannonball catch. With Holtum on one side of the stage and a cannon on the other, an assistant would fire a fifty pound ball which Holtum caught with his gloved hands and chest. The feat required immense strength, steely nerves and lightning fast reflexes. Several skeptics questioned the legitimacy of his act but were convinced after Holtum brought them on stage for a demonstration. Holtum appeared before Royalty in Europe and was a great success in the U.S. as well.

Holtum's initial attempt to catch the ball, resulted in his losing three fingers. Holtum offered 3000 francs to anyone who would perform a similar feat but no one ever took him up on his challenge.

Bonus Video - Documentary about strongmen similar to John Holtum

(6) | Michael Phelps

Swam like a fish

"Once every 10 to 15 years one sort of rises up like a phoenix who is born to do what they do," said former swimming champion Diana Nyad. "He's built and born for swimming."

Michael is a professional swimmer who holds the record for most individual Olympic Gold medals at 9. The secret to his success? Phelps is literally a fish out of water. As he was growing up, his torso extended beyond what's normal. While he's 6 feet 4 inches in height, he has the upper body of a man 6 feet 8 inches. That gives him extra upper-body strength. But Phelps also has the legs of a man who's only 5 feet 10 inches, which provides him with more efficient kicking. His arms stretched out of proportion to his body: to 6 feet 7 inches. It means more arm muscles and bigger hands for pulling through the water. Scientists have labelled him a genetic freak.

Bonus Video - Phelps' wins his 8th Gold Medal

(5) | Dean Karnazes

Ran in 50 marathons, in 50 states on 50 consecutive days

Dean Karnazes is the equivalent of a real-life Forest Gump. A lover of the outdoors, Dean has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits. Among his many amazing feats are running a 135-mile ultra-marathon across Death Valley in blistering heat and a marathon to the South Pole in temperatures well below zero. Besides these, he is most famous for his well-publicized event in which he completed 50 different marathons, on 50 consecutive days, in all 50 American states. He has been described by a number of magazines including Men's Fitness as one of the fittest men on earth.

Bonus Video - Dean Karnazes explaining his early life

(4) | Usain Bolt

Sprinted 100m in 9.58 seconds

Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know all about Usain Bolt's record breaking 100m sprint. Bolt is the reigning world champion in 100m sprint, the 200m sprint and the 4x100m relay (along with his teammates. He also holds the world record for these three events. Throughout his career Bolt has proven himself to be a true genetic freak. His body is designed to run extremely fast over short distances and because of this he able to beat his competitors with ease. After Bolt smashed the 100m world record in Berlin 2009 he was quoted as saying: "I could go under 9.5 [seconds] easy".

Bonus Video - Bolt's record breaking races

(3) | Alain Robert

Climbed the tallest building in the world without a harness

Alain Robert is a French man who earned the nickname "Spiderman" for his amazing ability to climb skyscrapers with no harnessing equipment at all. Robert has garnered much attention from the media due for his urban climbing feats which include scaling the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Robert has had a total of seven bad falls in his life, the worst being on 29 September 1982 when he was 20 years old, he fell 15 metres (49 ft) when his rope came undone while abseiling. He was in a coma for five days and fractured both forearms, his elbow, pelvis and nose. This didn't deter him from his climbing career and in March 2011 at the age of 48 Alain Robert scaled the 828m Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world.

Bonus Video - Funny video of office workers seeing Robert climbing their building

(2) | Philippe Petit

Walked on a tight-rope over the World Trade Centre

"To me, its really so simple, that life should be lived on the edge. You have to exercise rebellion. To refuse to tape yourself to the rules, to refuse your own success, to refuse to repeat yourself, to see every day, every year, every idea as a true challenge. Then you will live your life on the tightrope."

On 6 August 1974 Philippe Petit; a trained high-wire artist and some friends sneaked into the World trade Centre carrying a 450lb steel cable and a homemade balancing pole. They stored their equipment just 19 steps from the observation deck and the next morning fired one end of the cable across using a bow and arrow. Other friends who were stationed on the other tower tied up the cable using rope to minimize the swaying caused by winds. Petit then stepped out onto the ladder beginning what has been called the artistic crime of the century. He made a total of eight crossings between the twin towers, as well as lying down on the wire, performing knee salutes and smiling at police as they waited on the observation deck to arrest him.

A documentary by James Marsh about this amazing feat was released in 2008 called Man on Wire.

Bonus Video - Part of the documentary; Man on Wire

(1) | Bruce Lee

Achieved near perfect physical condition

Bruce was a Chinese-American martial artist and actor. He was also a philosopher, film director, producer and screenwriter. During his relatively short life-time he performed many incredibly superhuman feats and was among the finest martial artists in the world because of his astounding technique and impeccable fitness. In many of his movies the editor had to slow down footage because Bruce was too fast for the film to run smoothly. His striking speed from 3 feet away was as fast as five hundredth's of a second. Sadly Bruce Lee died in 1971 when he just 32 years old. The cause of death is listed as cerebral edema caused from when he took a headache tablet. Bruce's most famous feat of strength was probably his 2-finger push-up, however I've compiled a list below of his greatest so you may decide for yourself:

- Bruce could knock down an opponent with a punch from only 1-inch away.

- Bruce could perform 50 one-arm pull ups repeatedly.

- Bruce's side-kick could send a heavy-set man flying back 15 feet. One man later described the experience as: "Like being hit by a car".

- Bruce could throw grains of rice into the air and catch them using chop sticks.

- Bruce exploded a 150-pound punch bag with a sidekick.

- Bruce could snatch a dime from a person's hand before they closed it.

Bonus Video - Bruce Lee's famous 2-finger push-up and 1-inch punch

What do you think?

Who is the most superhuman?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Indeed, BRUCE LEE is the Greatest Human Earthling on Earth! Huuaaahhh!!!...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wow...and I thought landing on the Moon and taming fire were impressive accomplishments....Here we have guys that run and swim fast!

    • GoAceNate LM profile image

      GoAceNate LM 6 years ago

      Wow cool lens! Great idea!