If you want to break or create a world record then this post is going to help you. For many, Guinness World Records is the record-breakers’ Bible. Most record-breakers aspire to see their name within its hallowed pages. So do you think you could smash more than 70 watermelons in a minute by punching them? Or pass yourself through a tennis racket over seven times in three minutes? If so you could join that exclusive club.

Before undertaking any record attempt, check that the record is an accepted one. Many are not, often on safety grounds (for instance, certain extreme eating and drinking records have been phased out in recent years). About a quarter of records in the book are broken each year, and there are 65,000 applications for inclusion processed. You’ll need to provide evidence of any record claim, including two unbiased witness testimonies and a logbook. In general, record attempts should be made in a public place. Verification is often aided by the presence of local media too. You will normally receive a response to indicate whether your claim has been validated within six weeks.

You have more chance of getting into print if you challenge an established record – you can suggest a new category but be sure to get approval from the book’s editorial team so that you don’t waste time setting a record that they won’t accept. Records must be challenging, provable, quantifiable and breakable. They should not be specific to the individual. You can also check with the editorial team for the current record standard, which might have changed since the latest edition of the book was published.

Be realistic in the records you aim for. Are you really going to beat Usain Bolt over 100 metres? Are you physically capable of outgrowing the 27 centimetres (11 in) needed to claim the longest beard on a living woman? Play to your strengths – perhaps amassing the world’s largest ball of string is rather more up your street? This is how New Yorker Ashrita Furman got to hold more records than anyone else, currently 151 entries in the book, and more than 400 set since he started collecting them in 1979. Furman counts jumping jacks, yodelling, pogo sticking up Mount Fuji, juggling underwater (shown below), playing hopscotch and walking with a bottle of milk on his head among his achievements. And needless to say, he also holds the record for ‘Most Guinness World Records held by an individual at the same time.’