How to Be the Best in the World

Six Guidelines to Set A World Record

There are 7.125billion people in the world. The fact that most of these people aren’t trying to break a world record narrows down the field, but it still leaves a lot of competition, especially since records stand after death. These six steps should help you improve your odds and get you closer to your goal of being the best in the world at something. I’ll focus on physical feats since that is my wheelhouse, but some of these principles can be applied to other world records.


The most balloons inflated by the nose in 3 minutes are 23 and were achieved by Andrew Dahl (USA)

1. Pick Something the Nobody Else Cares about

This is absolutely critical. If you want to be the best in the world I cannot overemphasize the importance of picking something so obscure and unusual that nobody else in the world is actual competing with you. Use the strategy of that kid at the playground who was always trying to come up with a game that he would be best at. The naysayer may point out that this tactic sabotages the glory of holding a world record precisely because if nobody cares to attempt your event, nobody cares about your succes in it either. If it is the validation of others that you seek, I recommend thinking of something that looks cool but nobody has tried. Beware of picking an event that nobody else is doing because it is too dangerous, many have gone down this road, few have returned.

Action Steps:

  • Peruse the Guinness book of world records to get some ideas.
  • Pick a few records that seem to have very little competition and write down your own world record ideas not on Guinness.
 swimfinsFastest 100 metre hurdles wearing swim fins (male) is 14.82 seconds and was acheived by Christopher Irmscher (Germany)

2. Pick Something That Gives You A Genetic Advantage

Genetics are particularly crucial in records that heavily favor raw physical capacity such as locomotion. Remember that you are looking for things that you will be good at that others won’t.
The genetics relevant to athletic performance can be organized into three categories:
  1. Body Proportions. The best swimmers have longer arms, long torsos and short legs. The best runners have short torso’s and long legs [1,2]. Rock climbers have long arms, weight lifters have short arms. Small people are better at body weight activities, large people can create more force. There is an activity for every body shape. If you are round, consider rolling.
  2. Baseline Strength, Power & Endurance. People differ in their untrained abilities, some are naturally strong, others naturally quick and others rarely get winded [1,2]. 
  3. Trainability. Genetic differences effect how much you improve with training. Given the same strength training program some people gained 2.5x more strength than others [1,2,3,4].
Action Steps
  •  Measure your height, wingspan, leg length and torso length
  • See what sporting events favor this body type then think of novel events or ways to modify that event to eliminate the competition
  • Look back at your life experience in strength, power and endurance activities and write down what you think you are good at
  • Look back at your how much you improved when training strength, power or endurance and pick the thing you improved most easily at. Don’t rule out things you haven’t trained.

window cleaner

Terry Burrows (UK)holds the record for fastest window cleaner.

3. Pick Something That Gives You An Experience Advantage

This is particularly important in highly skilled activities. For a task that takes thousands of hours to perfect, it helps to start early in life.
  • Look back at your life experiences and consider dusting off some unusual skills from childhood.
 lassoThe world record for most lasso Texas skips in one minute is 80 achieved by Daniel Ledda (Spain)

4. Pick Something You Are Passionate About

By now you should have a list of potential world records to break. Find the ones that suite your gentics and personal experience best and pick the one you find most intrinsically motivating. This motivation will be the extra edge that keeps you practicing and improving on the long road to being the best in the world.
  • Pick the activity you find most motivating.



 The most people lifted and thrown in 2 minutes is 12 and was achieved by Aneta Florczyk (Poland)

 5. Test Yourself

That which gets measured, gets managed. Get a baseline measurement to figure out if you have a chance and to track progress.

  • Test your initial performance multiple times to find your repeatable performance.
  • Break down the activity to find ways to  your technique or capacity.



The record for the most one arm push-ups completed in one hour is 1,868 and was set by Paddy Doyle (UK)

6. Train

Set up a training program to address your weaknesses and improve your skills. The worse you did at picking your event, the more you will have to train. Commit to a program for a long enough time period to see results, but don’t let your hard-headedness prevent you from going back to the drawing board. Beware of all those dreamers who tell you that “you can do anything you put your mind to.” Life is too short to spend training intensely for the wrong event only to achieve mediocrity.

Summary and Caution

If you are taking this advice seriously, it is probably because you are ultra competitive. You might be guilty of getting your fix of victory by being competitive at traditionally non-competitive events like the office picnic softball game or running at charity walk-a-thons. In this case, directing your competitive spirit towards an obscure world record could help you keep that spirit at bay at times in life when it is unwelcome, ie. cooperative events and your children’s sports. Just be sure to keep things in perspective and enjoy the moment. Nobody will remember what you did in 1 million years so why does it matter if they remember in 100?


2. Pérusse L, Rankinen T, Hagberg JM, Loos RJ, Roth SM, Sarzynski MA, Wolfarth B, Bouchard C. Advances in exercise, fitness, and performance genomics in 2012. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 May;45(5):824-31. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31828b28a3. Review. PubMed PMID: 23470294; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3640622
3. Bouchard C, Rankinen T, Timmons JA. Genomics and genetics in the biology of adaptation to exercise. Compr Physiol. 2011 Jul;1(3):1603-48. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c100059. Review. PubMed PMID: 23733655; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3938186.
4. Hubal MJ, Gordish-Dressman H, Thompson PD, Price TB, Hoffman EP, Angelopoulos TJ, Gordon PM, Moyna NM, Pescatello LS, Visich PS, Zoeller RF, Seip RL, Clarkson PM. Variability in muscle size and strength gain after unilateral resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Jun;37(6):964-72. PubMed PMID: 15947721.

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