12 Incredible Limits Humans Can Reach (But You Probably Can’t)

People. Are. Amazing.

People. Are. Amazing.

During the first season of Limitless on CBS, we've seen Brian Finch do some mindblowing things when he gains access to 100% of his brain power. His mental acuity has also helped him go beyond the physical limits of what any known human can accomplish.

But even without a miracle drug like NZT, there are plenty of people doing amazing things you never thought were possible. Check out all these ways people can be limitless...
Green means go, Gerald Gschiel means stop.

Green means go, Gerald Gschiel means stop.

We're not sure why anybody wanted to test this limit, but there’s a world record for restraining a car. That’s right, a driver tries to pull away in a sports car while a strongman hangs on for dear life. Gerald Gschiel set the mark by holding back a Chevrolet Corvette Z-06 for 22.3 seconds.

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​No sleep till… wait, where are we going, again?

​No sleep till… wait, where are we going, again?

Some people can barely make it to lunch without nodding off. Others can keep going strong through dinner. And by dinner, we’re talking about reservations a week from now. In 1965, a 17-year-old named Randy Gardner stayed up for 264 hours, which is about 11 days. Several other research subjects have made it past a week, and without serious long-term side effects. That doesn’t mean you’d be unaffected. Until he slept it off, Gardner was “basically cognitively dysfunctional at the end of his ordeal.”

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​Some competitors seem to have ice in their veins.

​Some competitors seem to have ice in their veins.

Every winter, your local news has a story about some club that gets all their members to jump into a frigid body of water. Maybe it’s for fun, maybe it’s for charity, but it’s not for a long swim. Apparently it would be possible, though. Lewis Pugh has set multiple records by swimming in the open ocean, where the salt in the water allows it to reach below “freezing.” He once swam for over 30 minutes in water that was hovering around the freezing mark. We hope he had a hot tub available after he got out.

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This guy can handle your carry-on, just toss it on his plane.

This guy can handle your carry-on, just toss it on his plane.

If Kevin Fast (not pictured) forgets to re-rack the weights at your gym, good luck putting them back. The record-crushing strongman once set the mark for heaviest plane pulled by a man. It was 208 tons. He also happens to be a pastor and donates all his prize money to charity.

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​Marathons are just a warmup.

​Marathons are just a warmup.

Taking on a marathon isn't that unusual these days, as you know from the guy in your office who keeps asking for a donation to the charity he’s running to support. You may even know an ultrarunner, which refers to anybody tackling more than 26.2 miles at a crack—but generally 100 miles. Then there’s Dean Karnazes, who dropped off his kids at school on a Wednesday morning and went out for a run. When he stopped, he’d covered 350 miles and it was Saturday. While he was upright the whole time, he claims that at some points he was "sleep running."

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​A skill that leaves us breathless.

​A skill that leaves us breathless.

If you were ever a child and had access to a watch, you knew how long you could hold your breath. You probably couldn’t come anywhere near 20 minutes, though. That’s a mark several people have eclipsed, using different methods and in different competitions.

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​Stopping to find a bathroom probably wasn’t part of this road trip plan.

​Stopping to find a bathroom probably wasn’t part of this road trip plan.

A nice, leisurely road trip across the United States should take more than a week. Even an all-out drive when you’re moving will take a few days. But a trip from New York, NY to Redondo Beach, CA took just 28 hours and 50 minutes for one group of drivers in 2013. They waited over a year to release proof, ensuring the statute of limitations for any speeding offenses had expired. According to numbers crunched by Jalopnik, they repeatedly exceeded 130 miles per hour and even crossed the entire state of Ohio at an average speed of 107 miles per hour.

Image © Setareh Vatan/Design Pics/Corbis
​That’s deep, man. Really deep.

​That’s deep, man. Really deep.

If you’ve ever strapped on some fins and a SCUBA tank, you know recreational divers aren’t supposed to go deeper than 130 feet because bad things can happen. Sharks are the least of your worries. It’s more about the little things, like bubbles forming in your blood. Professional daredevils have gone much further, though. Last year the record was set when a diver plunged 1,090 feet below the surface of the Red Sea. It took 14 hours to resurface, because coming up too quickly would have killed him.

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​Much worse than pulling your leg.

​Much worse than pulling your leg.

There’s a record for heaviest weight lifted by pierced ears, and it’s 32 pounds and 13.5 ounces. We don’t know much more about this one, nor do we want to.

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​Daredevils who get high on life.

​Daredevils who get high on life.

At 29,029 feet above sea level, the top of Mt. Everest isn’t an easy place to hang out. Even with the best equipment, people don’t stay up there for more than a few minutes. That’s not enough of a challenge for some people, so summiting the world’s biggest peaks without oxygen is actually a thing. At the top, your body is getting roughly the amount of oxygen in three breaths that you would get in one breath at sea level. As if that’s not challenging enough, you’re going uphill through snow. As one person who accomplished the feat explained, while approaching the top he had to breathe 18 times per step.

Image © Xu Jian/Ocean/Corbis
Now that’s pressure to perform.

Now that’s pressure to perform.

You experience 1G of pressure while standing at sea level. On a roller coaster delivering 2Gs, a 150-pound person will feel like they weigh 300 pounds. You'd probably pass out around 5Gs because your heart can't pump enough blood, so it’s really impressive that fighter pilots are trained to handle nearly 10Gs. But that’s nothing compared to Air Force physician John Stapp, who subjected himself to a staggering 46.2 Gs. While that portion of his ride was brief, the forces involved caused the normally 168-pound man to momentarily weigh 7,700 pounds. He lived for another 45 years.

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​Some records are literally irrational.

​Some records are literally irrational.

Most students are required to take a math class where they learn a few digits of pi, the irrational number which represents the ratio between a circle's circumference and its diameter. You may still remember that it starts with 3.14 (also why it’s celebrated on March 14), but with no pattern and no end, most people don’t get much beyond that. Akira Haraguchi is not most people. At a public event in 2006, he recited the number to over 100,000 digits. It took him sixteen and a half hours.

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