Benefits of the One Punch Man Workout (Why Daily Push Ups & Running Works!)

By on December 21, 2020

Writing a One Punch Man workout is a little different from writing other workouts inspired by fictional characters. The obvious reason for this, is that we already know Saitama’s entire training. As everybody already knows at this point, his workout consists of:

  • 100 push-ups
  • 100 sit-ups
  • And 100 squats
  • 10km running

Every. Single. Day.

One Punch Man Workout

The joke is that this simple routine was able to get him to the point where he could jump from the moon to the Earth and punch giant meteorites into dust.

There have been some attempts to explain this as Saitama breaking some kind of theoretical limit. But the truth is that it’s just goofy fun.

So, what more is there to say?

Well, lots actually. First: I want to assess this workout as it’s written to see what merits it actually has. Secondly, I want to create a revised version that will offer real benefits while keeping the appealing simplicity intact.

And it turns out that the One Punch Man workout, even as written, may be more effective than you would think…

A Critique of the One Punch Man workout

The first thing to address is that Saitama’s program is pretty incomplete for most purposes.

Is that one set of 100 push ups? Or is it 10 sets of 10?

What order are we completing these in? Performing the squats right before running would make quite a big difference to the overall effect!

And where is the progressive overload? What happens when 100 push ups is easy?

The One Punch Man workout is also a little imbalanced. There are no pulling movements whatsoever, let alone twisting or extension. And you’re likely to find that 100 sit-ups is a lot easier than 100 push ups. And MUCH easier than a 10km run!

There are no pulling movements whatsoever.

In fact, that 10km run is the only part of this I find to be a little out of place. Even if you can’t do a single push up, if you keep doing your best to get as close as possible every day, you’ll eventually get to the point where you can complete 100 fairly easily. This is actually exactly how I started working out myself – in my room every single night after I was inspired by Jackie Chan and Arnie. And I never stopped. I’m sure many of you guys have similar origin stories…

One Punch Man Sit Ups

Which is maybe why the One Punch Man workout has resonated with so many people!

10km on the other hand is doable for someone of intermediate fitness but it’s still a long run. Going that far every day is going to either take a considerable amount of time, or be quite hard on the old joints. Still, there are ways around this and there are mitigating factors.

So, let’s take a look at the good stuff for a moment.

The Power of 100 Daily Push Ups

I recently posted an called “The Surprising Benefits of Doing 100 Push Ups a Day (Or More).” I’ll be repeating some of that here, but check it out if you want some more background.

I’m assuming here that the aim of the One Punch Man workout is to complete a single set of 100 push ups. And that this should be tough. Doing this has surprising benefits.

See also: The Surprising Benefits of Doing 100 Push Ups a Day (Or More)

Firstly, if you are going to failure or close to failure, then you will be recruiting larger, fast-twitch muscle fibres. That’s because all the slow-twitch muscle fibres will fatigue and give up, leaving only the more powerful motor units to keep you going. This in turn means you can develop strength through high-rep calisthenics, despite what many think. In short, your 91st rep of your 100-rep max, feels and acts similar to lifting 91% of your 1RM.

Saitama Running Training

Not exactly the same, mind, but it will have many of the same benefits.

I took a 10 month hiatus from bench press during the current pandemic and returned for the first time last week. I decided to ease myself back into it, but I was pretty comfortable performing 5 reps of 125kg and that was with incomplete recovery from my previous set (because that’s how I roll). Point is: high rep push ups and some calisthenics variations were enough to let me maintain my strength.

Strength Endurance

Better yet, is that this type of One Punch Man training builds strength endurance. This is something I’ve mentioned in the past but I believe it is severely overlooked. Point is: it’s not all that useful being able to lift something really heavy just once. Far MORE useful is to be able to lift something heavy lots of times, or hold it in place for a long time. I don’t get why more people don’t focus on this aspect of their performance, and it’s something I think CrossFit has gotten very right.

Saitama Strength Training

The anecdote I always come back to is Tom Platz: who would do 100+ reps on the leg press every day to build his massive legs. He could eventually perform 100 reps of squats with 225lbs on his back. That is extremely insane and to me it’s one of the most exciting examples of an alternative approach to training. Of course, this method did involve progressive overload (unlike the One Punch Man workout). But the point is that he was using high reps to failure (or close) to get there. That’s what 100 push ups will be for most people. The same goes for the 100 squats which isn’t that far removed from kinds of training used by the Great Gama or Mike Tyson to build massive, powerful legs. Check out my Bane Training video for more on that.

See also: Real Bane Training: Building Mind and Body in Confinement

The One Punch Man Workout for Angiogenesis

This strength endurance comes with a number of other, unique adaptations. What’s particularly interesting, is that this might improve blood supply to the muscles. This occurs, in part, through angiogenesis or capillarization: the formation of new tiny blood vessels that both carry blood to the muscle and also take waste products away from the muscle (such as the hydrogen ions that cause muscle burn and fatigue).

Angiogenesis High Rep Calisthenics

This is the SAID principle: Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. If you train yourself to be able to do lots of reps at a certain weight, you’ll get better at doing more reps at that weight!

The result is not only greater energy supply during a set but also more efficient removal of waste, which in turn helps you go for longer. This is amazing for preventing injuries too, because you’ll be providing the tendons with greater blood supply. Tendons have a naturally lower blood supply as compared with muscle and this means they respond more slowly to training (study). High rep calisthenics can fix that!

See also: Tendon Training for Injury Prevention and Explosive Power

It also means more recovery between workouts. Helping you to handle the repetitive grind of doing anything daily like this.

And of course, all this high rep stuff is also going to burn a fair number of calories, giving you that ripped look that Saitama has from his One Punch Man workout. I’m not sure about the bald thing.

One Punch Man 100 Squats

In short, this type of training really could help you to develop some impressive performance. I don’t think you’ll be taking out giant monsters with a single punch, but there’s some surprising, likely-accidental insight here!

Fixing the Other Movements

So, the high-rep stuff is good, but I feel that 100 sit-ups is a little out of place and we really need something for pulling in there. The One Punch Man workout is still a little imbalanced.

In my training program, SuperFunctional Training, I talk about the “O.N.E. Workout” which actually has a lot of similarities with this. However, for the purposes of this article, I’d recommend using bodyweight rows to balance with the push ups. Why? Because the row more closely matches the push up – both in terms of the number of reps you can do and in terms of the biomechanics.

Inverted Push Up

One of the great surprising benefits of push up training is that if you’re doing them correctly, by not allowing your waist to sag to the ground, then you’ll also be strengthening your core for greater performance. In short, it’s like a moving plank; especially at these higher rep-ranges.

The bodyweight row is perfect for offering the same stability in the opposite direction: anti-extension. That’s because

And if it’s punching we want, then we also need to train the transverse plane: the body’s ability to twist on the spot. That’s why I would recommend swapping the sit ups for at least some bicycle crunches or, better yet, alternating V-Ups retuning to the hollow-body position between each rep and not allowing your shoulders to lie flat on the ground for extra points. Adding some training for the obliques this way not only makes sense for a One Punch Man workout but also provides a more complete mid-section development.

One Punch Man Punching

How to Integrate These Ideas

Many people will find that performing sets of 100 reps is tough on all three (now four) of these exercises. Instead then, simply aim to complete the sets in as little time as possible. This means you’ll be aiming to keep the rest time between sets as small as you can. This results in an incomplete recovery, turning it into a form of metabolic conditioning. In short, it still helps you to get better at removing metabolites and keeps your heart rate up. It might take you an hour to do 100 push ups the first day but in a few months you’ll be bashing out sets of 100 in under a minute. The adaptations come fast!

One Punch Man Heavy Bag Workout

If you can’t do a single push up or squat, then you can make the movement easier. You can perform squat pulses (shout out to the awesome Jax Blade who has covered this topic in his Saitama video) or you can use push ups on your knees. Complete as many reps using proper form as you can and then drop immediately to the easier variation. This is called a mechanical drop set and I’m ALL about that.

And if you’re facing the other problem and you find all this too easy, then you can use the same strategy in reverse. Do explosive push ups or weighted push ups then drop to the normal variation. Remember: the benefits of doing high rep calisthenics require that you go to failure or near.

Those not interested in performing the One Punch Man workout but keen to get the benefits can try using long drop sets in their training, or incorporating “Flush Sets.”

One Punch Man Workout Real Life

A flush set means ending a chest workout with 100 reps on the chest press. This is a fantastic way to create an immense burn while also enhancing recovery (by increasing bloodflow). You can even use “burn sets” which are pulses you perform right when you can’t perform another single rep. They’re devastating.

As For the Running…

But we can’t talk about the One Punch Man workout without addressing the running portion. As I mentioned, the 10km run is a little out of place in this equation given that it’s a lot harder when performed daily.

Or at least it is if you go fast. Take it much slower – by which I mean maybe running it in 1 hour 30 or even longer – and it shouldn’t be too hard on the bones and joints. Nor should it result in too much burn out. This is a BIG mistake that a lot of people make with their cardio: throwing in junk miles at something just below their anaerobic threshold and wearing themselves down over time.

The difference is that they would run those distances slowly.

In his book Beyond Training, Ben Greenfield discusses how this can do more harm than good. The irony is that humans are meant to run long distances. Some theories suggest this is the main way we would have survived in the wild, and indigenous tribes like the Tarahumara seem to support that notion. These guys run up to 435 miles over two days! The difference is that they would run those distances slowly, as I just described.

One Punch Man 10KM Running

This is something a lot of people actually get a little wrong when it comes to running, especially to begin with when their bodies aren’t ready. Running is NOT just about cardio performance, it’s also about form and muscle tone. Don’t go as fast as you can physically go to begin with – just enjoy it and aim to complete the distance in any time! You can even walk. And this will actually enhance recovery by improving circulation. Not to mention the obvious calorie burn benefits.

That said, if this is taking you all day, then I’m sure no one will judge you for sticking to 5km.

Form and Function When Running

And as you run, focus on your form. Relax the shoulders. Keep the joints stacked. Ideally run in minimal footwear and use a forefoot stride. Keep the core tight and don’t let yourself lean forward or back too much.

Being mindful of your form and maintaining this throughout your runs will make everything tighter and stronger and it will help you to perform better when fatigued: absolutely critical for any fighter looking to last longer in the ring, or athlete who wants to maintain proper form toward the end of the movement. If you feel pain in your feet, knees, or back then stop. Assess your form, and come back to it.

One Punch Man Awesome Dodge

If you’re looking for an alternative that will bring some of the same benefits, look for something like the 100-Up. This movement involves jumping from one foot to another to improve your hip stability and form even when fatigued. Again, the key is to focus on proper form even as you get tired. I’ll make a video on this topic alone in future but some claim it can completely transform your running game. G. Walter George, who invented the technique, apparently used it to go from an inexperienced runner to one of the best of his time (this was during the 1800s).

100-up exercise

There are MANY more benefits you get from mindful, gentle running and walking. In fact, I made a series of guided runs and walks for a company called iFit – I’m showing clips from the trailer up on screen right now. You can check that out if you are interested in this stuff and there’s a free

Closing Comments

So, there you go! That’s my take on why so many people have seen some pretty decent results from the One Punch Man workout. Switching to such high reps is a frightening prospect for bodybuilders and powerlifters used to sets of 12 and 4 respectively, but it brings its own rewards. Rewards that don’t necessarily translate to bigger numbers in the gym, but which can be extremely beneficial in life and competition.

One Punch Man Push Ups

If you want to learn how to actually punch, then be sure to check out Grant’s videos on the Bioneer YouTube channel. He’s pretty much the real-life One Punch Man.

If you want to learn more about performing high-rep calisthenics, then I actually have a free training program you can get from this link. That’s the Bodyweight Max-Stimulus program and you can grab it here

Also Read: How to Build Actual Strength and Size With Advanced Bodyweight Training

If you want something more in-depth that covers every aspect of strength and performance – that improves strength, mobility, running speed, jump height, proprioception, brain function and more – then of course you can check out my full eBook and training program SuperFunctional Training. That’s on discount right now during the pandemic and it explains all this in much more detail.

One Punch Man Workout

Finally, if you want to learn all about Functional Training and how it applies to your real life or sports and athletics, you can preorder my physical book Functional Training and Beyond. That will be released early next year and is available at a discounted price if you pre-order now.

Order your copy of SuperFunctional Training - A complete training program for body and mind.





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About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

2 Comments

  1. Dawie says:

    I love your work Adam

    Thanks for everything

    From a South-African

  2. Ross says:

    I’ve been doing this whilst gyms are shut. I’ve really enjoyed it, when it got easy I moved to plyometric variants, so press ups with a clap and jumping squats. Keep up the good work!

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