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January 12, 2021 10 min read

The chips are down. If Saitama can’t stop the unstoppable Carnage Kabuto then the world is in danger. One Punch Man’s student has pulled out all of the stops, and he’s been beaten badly. The super villainous Dr. Genus and the House of Evolution are going to take over the world with their super-powered blood-crazed experiments, and analyzing One Punch Man’s never before seen godlike strength is the final piece they need to propel themselves into the future.

Carnage Kabuto falters for the first time. There’s something overwhelming about One Punch Man. He asks him how he became so powerful. There’s got to be some kind of secret. 

Saitama humors him. It’s the first real glance into this mysterious man’s back story.

One hundred push-ups!  One hundred sit-ups! One hundred squats!  Then a 10 km run! Every. Single. Day! 

He urges us to eat three meals a day. Never skip breakfast, even a banana will do. 

He sharpened his mind by never using air conditioning during the summer or heat during the winter (or maybe he’s coving up how broke he is). He trained like this every day for three years. Never stopping no matter what. When his legs felt like stone, he squatted. When his arms wanted to give up, he kept pushing up. 

He trained so hard that his hair fell out, giving him his distinctive look.

Nobody in the room believes him, but he swears up and down that this alone is where One Punch Man found his strength. And it’s hard to argue with his results because a minute later he crushes Carnage Kabuto in a single punch. Will this work out for you? How effective is it? Can you keep it up? 

Let’s find out.

Studio photo of man punching

One Punch Plan

If you’ve watched this anime there are a couple of things that might stick out to you. He moves faster than the speed of sound, and at one point he’s punched onto the moon, calculates his return trajectory, and jumps back with so much force that he alters its topography forever.

We’re going to start by setting some realistic goals. You’re never going to be that strong, but this is a great place to start if you really don’t quite know what your goals are.

You might also note that his plan is a little light on details.

You can probably do a hundred push-ups in sets of ten sprinkled throughout your day. How fast is he running his 10k? Does he jog the entire thing, or does he take time to walk when he’s winded? How fit was he when he started out? That might change everything.

Our next step is utilizing some assumptions. We’re going to approach this with the beginner in mind. It seems like Saitama’s life before he donned his iconic cape and yellow suit was pretty unimpressive, and he talks about his workout like it almost killed him at first, and frankly, it’s a lot to take on if you’re not used to working out. We also see him overtaking himself in a multilayered flashback, so maybe he adjusted his sets and 10k runtime as he got stronger and stronger.

Let’s make this a little more modular. You’re not going to get anywhere if you can’t get out of bed the next day, and part of his routine was making sure he got it done. “Every single day.”

If you’re committed to taking on this workout routine as written, then it might be helpful to break it down into sets. One hundred push-ups is one hundred push-ups regardless of whether you did them all in a single set, two sets of fifty, or ten sets of ten. Same with your sit-ups and squats. If one hundred is too much for you just starting out, then consider reducing the number of reps, and setting your sights on one hundred as a goal, rather than an opening benchmark.

His ten-kilometer run is also going to be the largest stumbling block for a lot of beginners. Running is all about building and pushing your muscular endurance. That means when you’re just starting out you’re probably not going to be sprinting six miles with the best of them. We suggest either breaking it down into manageable run/walk distances or building yourself up to that distance little by little. 

Exercise is about reaching goals as much as it’s about pushing yourself, and you’re going to have more motivation to tackle this every day if you can cut out the feeling of failure. There’s no shame in not running a 10k the very first time you step outside to start a new routine, and there’s no shame in realizing the limits of your body. You’re working out to improve yourself anyway.

One Punch Win?

This plan doesn’t ask much from you financially. There are no equipment costs and no gym membership fees. You could stand up and start right now. True to his character, it’s easy on your wallet, and if you’re serious about it you could stick with it. You don’t have to track your progress or adjust your weights. This isn’t a precise weight lifting regimen focused on finding your absolute maximum and adjusting what you’re lifting day to day and updating it week after week. 

Just get up and do a hundred of them. Pretty easy to remember, right?

The plan, as written is better than a lot of routines by sheer volume. Most people aren’t doing this much cardio twice a week, let alone every day of their lives. A lot of folks also tend to do a lot of isolation exercises like bicep curls or pec flies because they’re attracted to weights and machines if they don’t quite know where to start.

All of these exercises are calisthenic or compound exercises. A compound exercise is something that targets multiple muscle groups at the same time, and calisthenics is just a fancy word for exercises that use your body weight and nothing else. 

The push-ups are targeting your chest, shoulders, abs, and triceps. Squats are great for your lower back and your glutes, quads, and calves. Sit-ups are going to target your upper abs, hip flexors, and your iliopsoas (those connect your lower spine to your hips). Basically, this means there are several efficiencies packed in.

The emphasis on a high number of reps means that this routine is a shrine of endurance. It sounds hard because it is. You don’t do a hundred push-ups without a little bit of conditioning. That’s why we suggest either breaking them up or training yourself toward that number. Endurance comes from training, and as much as we’d love to tell you that you can just will yourself into it like Saitama did that’s not just realistic.

One Punch Man is pretty slender for all of his superhuman feats. This is pretty accurate. These bodyweight exercises are great for burning fat and increasing muscle, especially when you’re just starting out. Your body aims to distribute your resources efficiently. That might mean storing energy in fat cells if you’re not burning it, but it also means using energy and protein to build muscle when you’re using it routinely.

One Pitfall Man

Well, really it’s several pitfalls, but they’re all easy to overcome. When you’re considering a training regime change it’s important to carefully examine every single aspect of it, and that includes its shortcomings. It’s an excellent foundation, this workout program covers more that it doesn’t. If we can change a couple of aspects of it then we can make this workout work for you. We want to build up to a hundred reps where we can, add some sort of pull exercise, and maybe invest in a kettlebell. 

No Pulls, Man

There are a few basic movement patterns you want to cover when building a workout plan: push (horizontal and vertical), pull (horizontal and vertical), squat, and hinge (think hip movements). Covering these will, more likely than not, give you pretty full coverage. This kind of thing is important because you’ll start affecting your posture negatively or create sore spots and weak areas by overtraining one motion, and not the opposing side.

Saitama’s strength training covers most of your upper body and takes care of your lower body pretty well, but he’s lacking a pull exercise. Who knows why that could be, maybe he’s pulling his punches so often that he makes up for that. You’re not going to be saving the world with your fists, so we need to make up for that.

Pull exercises are self-explanatory, and if you want to keep in the calisthenic wheelhouse there are several options, but you’re going to have to break one of Saitama’s workout rules:

  • Pull-ups: are an old standby, and they’re incredibly gratifying. Every gym in the world is going to have a pull-up bar, and it’s a pretty cheap investment if you’re trying to keep yourself from spending too much money.
  • Inverted row: have you seen those bars in the park that are pretty low to the ground? Those are perfect for inverted rows. Inverted rows have a lower skill floor than pull-ups, and if you’re near a park you’re golden. 
  • Single Arm Rows: you can grab a pretty cheap dumbbell for single-arm rows. This takes you outside of the realm of bodyweight exercises though, but in the name of good health, it’s worth it.
Guy Drinking water

    Rest Days

    Rest is just as important to your growth as working out. Your body changes over time, and you need to give it the opportunity to do so. If you’re constantly breaking down your muscles without giving them the chance to build themselves back up, then you’re going to stall out pretty quickly. It’s good to stay motivated, and if you feel like you can keep this up every single day for three years, then we’re not going to say you have too much motivation or anything, but your efforts would be better spent if you work in some rest.

    What do rest days look like? Rest isn’t just sleeping, though you’re going to want to do that too. Sleep is where most of our repairs happen. Saitama’s insistence on not using central heating might pose a problem here. Don’t torture yourself at night, and you’ll see much better progress. 

    Don’t forget about blood flow and flexibility. When you’re building muscle you’re adding tension if you don’t limber up and balance your workouts on your flexors and your extensors. Consider investing in a foam roller, it’s like a micro-massage. They’re a great way to work out knots and retaining mobility.

    Never Skip a Meal

    That brings us to diet. This anime man never describes any manga meals, and that’s most likely a pacing thing. However, we’re not storybook people. You’ve got a real body that needs real energy, and real building blocks if you want to make any real progress.

    So what does your body need if you’re going to be making the most out of this?

    You don’t have to get fancy, especially with routine as straightforward as this one. Just think about the three main things your body craves. You’re made out of water protein and fat and fueled by carbs

    Keep yourself hydrated. You’re going to be sweating, especially with all of this endurance work. If you feel thirsty, take a drink. Hydrate before you work out. Employ the use of a water bottle, you’ll never forget to drink water if you’ve got it on your hip at all times. It’s hard to drink too much water, it’s what your body craves more than anything.

    Food is also a simple enough thing to tackle. Prepping your meals will help cut down on mental bandwidth. Stock up on healthy proteins and avoid saturated fats. When it comes to fitness, you get out what you put in. One of the easiest ways to lose weight is to tweak your diet. Cutting out empty calories and excess fats is going to work wonders for you. Starting with a healthy diet will lower your exertion overhead exponentially.

    Not Quite the Kind of Pain for Gains

    Something to keep in mind if you take this on is your eventual goal. If you’re looking for huge increases in muscle size, this may not be the program for you.

    Muscle mass primarily comes from hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is the process your body undergoes to build more muscle. This process is triggered by wearing your muscles down and repairing microtrauma. Microtrauma is tiny tiny damage to your muscle fibers, this happens when you’re overloading your muscles by doing things like lifting heavy weights or engaging in anaerobic exercise.

    Man doing push ups

    Repetitive Motion

    Imagine doing one hundred sit-ups a day every day for three years. By the end of your first year, you’ll have done the exact same motion with your delicate spine thirty thousand times. You’re going to be compressing the cartilage and putting an immense amount of pressure on the part of your body that houses some of your most important nerves. 

    Consider switching up your routine every few months. You can work your abs in several different ways, and you’ll be better off if you aim to target the full range of your abdomen. 

    This could be as simple as sliding in 100 crunches. Crunches have a smaller range of motion, you’re trading your compound exercise for isolation, but that’s a small price to pay for keeping your back in tip-top shape. 

    You could also do some planks. Planks are relatively simple. You’re resting on your elbows and toes while keeping your back straight. This is great for engaging your core and its keeping you off of your back. This routine is all about endurance, and you won’t be losing anything by trading your sit-ups for a couple minutes of planking, and you’ll thank us for it in the long run.

    Punch it Up

    Don’t dive in head first, though. You’ll get way more out of a plan like this if you pick and choose aspects of it that work for your body. Pounding your feet into dust isn’t going to be doing you any favors. If your muscles are screaming in agony every second of every day, take a break and reduce the load. Hurting yourself is the single best way to tank your progress.

    The first week of this program is intense. It’s something that the world’s strongest man took on to become one of the greatest heroes in a fictional Japan. It takes dedication more than anything else.

    These bodyweight workouts are the meat and potatoes of a pretty simple endurance training program. If you’re looking to burn fat or get yourself into fitness, this is an excellent starting point. You’re not going to be accomplishing anything superhuman, but sticking to this is going to give you a better body than you started with. You’ll improve your cardiovascular health and you’ll be undeniably fit if you can pull this off, and isn’t that the whole point?