I Tried the "One Punch Man" Workout for a Week

Is the One-Punch Man workout an efficient workout?

One Punch Man 

100 Push Ups.

100 Sit Ups.

100 Squats.

10 Kilometer Run.

EVERY. DAY.

These are the workout guidelines for Saitama (AKA One Punch Man) the bald protagonist of One Punch Man, who wields godlike powers that allow him to destroy virtually any enemy, in especially violent fashion, with a single punch. Created by the mysterious manga author ONE, One Punch Man is a satirical take on the cliches of popular superhero manga like Dragon Ball Z and Naruto. Despite the original intent of parody, One Punch Man has found a surge of popularity that has launched it to the same Triple-A status as the titles it satirizes, complete with its own anime series streaming on Netflix. For those familiar with the lore, Saitama is an average looking, bald man who might just be the most powerful being in the universe, thanks to his trusty regimen of 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10 km run every day for 3 years WITHOUT REST. Allegedly, this workout routine can give you the power to fight androids, cyborg animals, monsters, space aliens, kaiju, and other colossal titans with just ONE PUNCH. I decided to try it for a week and see if this routine could help me give Goku a run for his money (That's a Dragon Ball Z reference for those of you who aren't nerdy), and this is what happened. 

Research

Before starting any new type of regimen, the first thing you should do is conduct a little more research on it to fully understand what muscle groups you will be targeting and whether or not it is a routine that is going to benefit you. The first thing I did was Google other people who had tried this workout, and from what I discovered, there are numerous accounts of people who suffered from joint pain and torn muscles within the very first week of practicing the One Punch Workout. After digging around and reading more horror stories and first-hand accounts with this regimen, I came to the conclusion that the two biggest obstacles I would face would be the lack of proper rest between workouts, and the consecutive 10 km runs every day. In order to circumvent these two issues, I would have to modify the workout to ensure my own longevity and capability of working out for the week.

The Modification

The biggest threat to washing out during this regimen was undoubtedly the 10-kilometer run every day. Never mind the 100 sit ups, push ups, and squats; those are easy exercises to conduct and in reality, it's not even that much, that number of calisthenic exercises is purely supplemental and you could execute all 300 of those repetitions in 10 minutes. The run, however, is the exercise that destroys people. 10 kilometers is a little more than 6 miles, and to run that distance EVERY DAY, WITHOUT REST, is setting your body up for future joint pain and pulled muscles. When you run that consistently for such long durations of time, gravity takes its toll, and the excessive beating of your muscles and joints against the floor without any rest gives way to the possibility of serious injuries. I decided the best modification to this regimen would be to simply swap out the run with a swim. Swimming is a great alternative because not only does it utilize all the muscles in your body, but the weightlessness of the water actually provides RELIEF for your joints. Water is also 4 times denser than air, which means if you swim for 1 kilometer, you will be covering an equal distance of a 4-kilometer run. If you swim for at least 3-kilometers, you will be covering the equivalent of a 12-kilometer run, exceeding the 10-kilometer goal while simultaneously reducing your potential for injury. Now that we've covered that, here's how my week went down.

*Before I continue, I just want to disclose that I still worked out with my normal gym routine on top of the One Punch Workout, so these results may not be entirely representative of the One Punch Workout on its own. However, I've been an avid fitness aficionado for years now, and I'm relatively sure that I can notice the differences in results when adding new exercise routines to my regimen*

Day 1:

I started the morning energized and fresh, the push-ups, sit-ups, and squats came easily. I could definitely feel the blood pumping through my muscles, especially when blasting the One Punch Man theme song on my headphones; I felt the power coursing through my veins and was ready to take on every kind of super-powered alien threat headed my way. It was time to hit the pool next. The public pool I go to is a standard sized Olympic swimming pool that is 50 meters long. 1 kilometer of swimming consists of 20 single laps from end to end, so to hit the 10 km run equivalent, you need to swim a minimum of 50 laps, but I shot for 60 laps just to keep the 3 km distance because I'm a little OCD. The swim was excellent, and afterward, my limbs felt refreshed and even stronger than when I originally got in.

Day 2:

I started the morning with the calisthenic exercises and while I wasn't as energized as Day 1, I still felt strong and capable with the power of the universe flowing through my veins. The next couple hours were spent hitting my 60 laps and just like Day 1, I felt great walking out of there. The water really makes your limbs feel lighter than air when you get out, you feel faster and stronger like you can take on anything.

Day 3:

Today I actually started feeling the first signs of fatigue during the calisthenic workouts. My legs were slightly sore doing the squats, and the push-ups went much slower. The worst was trying to do the sit-ups, I started to feel pain in my lower back trying to do them and I discovered that my skin was actually starting to blister and bleed from the friction of hitting the ground repeatedly. I couldn't keep doing the sit-ups because placing my full body weight on such a sensitive area just prolonged the stinging and kept it from healing. In order to maintain the integrity of the regimen, I swapped the sit-ups with weighted crunches. Crunches target the abs more directly, and when you combine the exercise with weights, the resistance gives the motion of the crunches that extra kick. After figuring out how to keep the ab exercises intact, I hit the pool and embraced the glorious magic of the water once more.

Day 4:

This is when the fatigue started to really hit hard, the 100 squats were excruciating, but the push-ups and weighted crunches were still relatively easy. When I say easy, I don't mean it was a walk in the park, I mean that it still hurts like an exercise should, but you can still complete the action with relative ease. When I got to the pool, I felt pretty good during the first 30 laps, but halfway through I started to notice slight muscle pain in my left bicep and joint pain where my right foot connects to my leg. I still felt good about my morning workout, but noticing the fatigue, I couldn't help but wonder how much harder the last 3 days might be.

Day 5:

The end of the line is in sight, but these exercises are to starting to become harder to keep up with. The squats felt almost as if my hip bones were grinding in their sockets on the way down to the floor. The push-ups required me to break them into smaller sections just so I could micromanage my reps to completion. The weighted crunches were the best exercise to complete, my abs were getting a deep workout, but it didn't hurt to the point where I questioned whether or not I could continue on. The pool gave my limbs some relief but my left bicep and the joint in my right foot still hurt, and the pain started to become more noticeable. I had to slow down the rate of my swimming and take a few more breaks than usual so as not to injure myself further.

Day 6:

The end is so close yet so far, I really had to fight through the pain this time and push myself harder than usual. Day 6 was much more of a mental game than the previous days, I really had to steel myself and harden my mindset. Each one of the calisthenic exercises felt like an absolute ordeal to complete, even just walking to the pool felt painful on my foot. Things got better once I started swimming, but I had to go earlier and give myself an extra hour just so I could finish my 60 laps at the slow pace that I was dragging myself. The only thing that literally kept me going was blasting the theme song of One Punch Man at the highest volume possible on repeat and telling myself that each bout of pain was me getting a little bit stronger.

Day 7:

The final day of the One Punch Workout challenge. Knowing that this was going to be my last day of testing out this workout gave me a revitalized sense of energy. Though my mental optimism was high, it wasn't much of a match for my actual level of physical readiness. Every limb of my body felt exhausted performing these exercises and I was surprised that my limbs weren't sorer than they could have been. My legs were stiff, and my steps were much smaller, even the water of the swimming pool wasn't much help at first. Eventually, the weightlessness of being surrounded by liquid helped and I was able to kick and pull myself through the pool like usual. Once I got out of the water my entire body felt like jelly, and I had that wonderful feeling where your limbs are so worked out that they almost don't feel like they're your limbs anymore. If you work out a lot, you know that feeling, it's sort of the limbo between having a good pump and having cripplingly fatigued arms and legs. Feeling accomplished, I walked home wincing with each step, and got some actual rest.

The Verdict

The One Punch Man Workout is a hell of a challenge, and while the cardio aspect of it is really the focal point of what it has to offer, trying to do this workout long term without rest simply isn't feasible. Remember, I only lasted this long because I replaced the running with swimming, and I strongly believe that the only reason I saw the entire 7 days of this workout to completion is because of that decision to supplement the cardio with an option that isn't as hard on the joints. If I had decided to actually run more than 6 miles every day, I would have either burned out faster or injured myself to the point where I couldn't work out properly for several weeks. As an actual workout, I think this routine would make for a great supplement to add to a person's regular exercise regimen. It has the potential to really shock the human body when reaching a fitness plateau and throw a curveball that will break the wall keeping you from the next level. Trying to do this workout consecutively for more than just a week without rest, however, is going to hinder you and set you BACK from reaching your goals. Even though the premise of trying to do this workout nonstop for 3 years straight to unlock supreme god-like power levels sounds good on paper, the reality is you're going to cause major harm to your body trying to emulate a FICTIONAL CHARACTER. The human body needs rest, it's an integral part of getting stronger, and trying to fight that reality is going to cause muscle LOSS, and damage to your joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. If you are naive enough to think that you can still get away with pushing past those barriers, you risk causing IRREPARABLE damage to your body, that's a fancy word for "permanent" which means you could inhibit your growth forever and even cause serious nerve damage.

On a positive note, this workout is great if utilized properly. As I mentioned, this routine should be used supplementary to your normal workout regimens. I would recommend putting this workout into practice 3 to 5 days a week, 5 is pushing it though, and I recommend it only for athletes looking to really challenge themselves on occasion. With a workout like this, rest is IMPERATIVE, and you should be generous with recuperating afterward if you don't want to jeopardize your ability to keep exercising. It's better to take a day off and rest than hurt yourself and be out of the gym for a month. Now if you made it this far in the article, thanks for reading, and if you haven't seen One Punch Man yet, stop what you're doing right now and go binge watch it on Netflix. Keep up the hard work everybody, and eventually, you'll be threat-level God.

Daniel Sosa-Porter
Daniel Sosa-Porter

Daniel is a writer, playwright, actor, cinephile, aspiring renaissance man, and an extreme dork. The nerdiness that runs through his veins is what allows him to write a variety of excellent articles and post them online.

Now Reading
I Tried the "One Punch Man" Workout for a Week