Created by Phil and Louise Keoghan, CBS’ ‘Tough as Nails‘ is a reality competition show that pits twelve contestants against one another in a series of challenges that test their physical strength and mental endurance. Through team challenges, individual competitions, and elimination battles, the participants perform grueling tasks at real-life job sites. While those eliminated can still participate in smaller challenges, the last one standing in the individual race wins $200,000 and a truck.
With its unique yet entertaining format, the show sheds light on the skills and resilience exhibited by those working physically demanding jobs. Now, if you’ve enjoyed watching it and are looking for something that equally gets your adrenaline rushing, we have the perfect list of recommendations for you to binge. You can watch most of these reality shows like ‘Tough as Nails’ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime!
8. American Ninja Warrior (2009-)
Based on the Japanese reality TV series, ‘Sasuke,’ ‘American Ninja Warrior‘ follows several competitors attempting to complete several daunting obstacle courses across the US to conquer Mount Midoriyama in Las Vegas and go home with the winning title as well as $1 million. All the obstacle courses are specifically designed to evaluate the participants’ physical prowess, agility, and mental strength.
Interestingly, to date, only three contestants have been recorded to have completed the entire series of challenges and achieved Ultimate Victory. Like ‘Tough as Nails,’ ‘American Ninja Warrior’ features people from all walks of life with inspiring backstories. Besides, the physically taxing nature of the tasks in both shows further likens them to each other.
7. Survivor (2000-)
Hosted by Jeff Probst, ‘Survivor‘ is a beloved reality survival competition where a group of strangers on a remote island must use their skills to gather food, water, and shelter. Moreover, they must participate in several challenges that test their physical and mental abilities to inch closer to the $1 million prize. Divided into “tribes,” the contestants are additionally required to exhibit their strategizing skills to establish good relations with other teammates and win their support to evade elimination.
True examples of “survival of the fittest,” both ‘Survivor’ and ‘Tough as Nails’ evaluate a participant’s abilities through various tasks that require them to use both brain and brawn. Furthermore, only one final warrior who braves every portion of the competition is crowned the winner. Despite ‘Survivor’ taking place on an island, the challenging nature of the tasks makes it similar to ‘Tough as Nails.’
6. Siren: Survive the Island (2023-)
Twenty-four women from various physically demanding professions, including firefighters, stuntwomen, policewomen, and soldiers, compete in groups of four on a remote island in ‘Siren: Survive the Island.’ This South Korean reality competition series features six diverse teams participating in several backbreaking challenges over seven days to survive and be the last and winning group.
While ‘Tough as Nails’ sees the contestants engaging in tasks one often encounters in real-life jobs, in ‘Siren: Survive the Island,’ the ones employed in these very jobs battle it out on an island. Though the setting may differ, the core concept remains the same — to dispel the traditional notions of strength and win the competition based on endurance and presence of mind. Besides, the emphasis on respecting those who work hard to serve society is another common aspect of both shows.
5. The Titan Games (2019-2020)
Hosted by Dwayne Johnson and inspired by the actor’s personal workouts, ‘The Titan Games‘ brings together people from across the nation who contend in highly challenging physical tasks that evaluate their perseverance on all levels. Eventually, the last standing male and female contestants are crowned the Titans of the season. Loosely based on Greek mythology, the show aims to prove that a true Titan isn’t born but is made from determination, hard work, and overall fitness.
Though ‘The Titan Games’ has a specific game-based setup, it is similar to ‘Tough as Nails’ in the diverse backgrounds of its contestants and the focus of the competition on endurance-based challenges. Not just that, but both shows are designed to select a winner who has a strong mind and body and the ability to think on their feet.
4. Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test (2023-)
If you have ever wondered how military personnel are trained and wish to witness it first-hand, ‘Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test‘ is the right fit. It follows celebrity contestants in an undisclosed location following the sergeants’ orders. Accordingly, they participate in action-packed challenges rooted in the training techniques used in the special forces. Naturally, these heavy-duty tasks are not for the faint-hearted and require grit, physical strength, and a mind of steel.
Though the contestants here are celebrities, compared to the regular masses in ‘Tough as Nails,’ both shows are treats for action fans and those who enjoy shows which contain diverse physically difficult activities. On top of it, they create awareness about the importance of fitness and how everyone, regardless of their fame or profession, must train themselves to survive any situation.
3. SAS: Who Dares Wins (2015-)
Like ‘Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test,’ ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins’ is a British reality pseudo-military training show where various contestants are made to perform tasks derived from military training methods. In two weeks, the Directing Staff guides the recruits to participate in tests based on warfare techniques that evaluate their survival and quick thinking skills.
Despite being solely focused on the special forces, ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins’ also gives an insight into the preparation and aptitude required in a professional environment, much like ‘Tough as Nails.’ Each show delves into the core aspects of service-based jobs, which require heavy physical training and technical skills, by making the participants experience the same in person.
2. The Challenge (1998-)
Almost topping the list of physical endurance-based reality shows is ‘The Challenge,’ which brings together fan-favorite contestants from other popular reality series. Teaming up former lovers, friends, and even rivals, the show requires them to complete several missions, both physical and strategy-based, to reach the finals and go home with a hefty cash reward.
Contrary to the commoners participating in ‘Tough as Nails,’ ‘The Challenge’ primarily features known faces from reality television. Still, both shows bear resemblances in terms of the physical challenges the contenders have to complete to win the competition, along with the intriguing gameplay that unravels as participants in both shows contemplate how to perform the following task at hand and eliminate their competition.
1. Physical: 100 (2023-)
Reminiscent of the popular South Korean drama series ‘Squid Game,’ ‘Physical: 100‘ is a South Korean reality competition series wherein 100 male and female contenders compete in grueling challenges to win 300 million won ($2,40,413.51). As the name suggests, the tasks have been created to assess the participants’ physical endurance and require them to be in their best form. Yet, any strenuous activity also needs a sharp and resilient mind and this reality series tests that throughout.
Much like ‘Tough as Nails,’ ‘Physical: 100’ looks for contestants who can withstand the harshest physical conditions and prove their strength. Besides, the challenges in both shows are pretty practical compared to other series of the same format. Lastly, each has a brutal elimination process that requires one to overpower the opposite team, making them all the more similar.
Read More: Is Tough as Nails Scripted or Real?