When it comes to fitness and strength training, there’s never been a dearth of inspiration from comic books and cartoons.
Beefed up superheroes have inspired millions of men and women to get up from their couches and start lifting.
So it never surprises me when a young teenager picks up his first dumbbell wanting to be like Superman, or Captain America or Batman.
But Saitama? That’s just incredible.
For the uninitiated, Saitama is the Japanese Superhero from the runaway hit manga series ‘One Man Punch’. (1)
Saitama has an uncanny dilemma. He’s so powerful that he cannot find opponents who can match his strength. If he does find one, one punch is all it takes to pulverize them.
While it initially started as a joke, the franchise has become so popular around the world now that it has spanned a new type of workout routine called ‘The One Punch Man Workout’.
Apparently, the workout which is often clubbed with short time span challenges, like a ’30-day One Punch Man workout’ and so on, is designed for both strength and hypertrophy.
But is it really effective?
Can you build Saitama-like strength and Kayo any burly opponent if you religiously follow the one punch man workout?
Let’s find out.
What is the One Punch Man Workout?
During the course of the series, Saitama reveals his secret fitness routine that gives him the incredible strength that he’s known for.
That routine is now called ‘The one punch man workout’.
Here it is.
- 100 Push-Ups
- 100 Sit-Ups
- 10-Km Running
Saitama says that he follows this routine every single day of his life.
Yay! Now we know the secret sauce.
The question is, apart from going bald and muscles ripping out of your t-shirt, what can such a workout routine do for you?
Analyzing the One Punch Man Workout.. Is It Effective?
The One Punch Man Workout is based on the very fundamentals of bodybuilding.
It might not be as well thought out as it appears to be. But it is a great way to kick start your fitness journey if you have never been too keen to head to the gym.
There are four parts to the workout.
The classic Push up is a compound move that builds strength, endurance and hypertrophy in your upper body. It targets almost all major upper body muscles including muscle groups in the shoulders, triceps and pectorals.
It can be done anywhere, anytime. Doesn’t need fancy equipment or even a dedicated place. You can do them even in the most cramped space.
What’s more important, is that you can never hit a plateau with a push-up. There’s always ways to make them more and more challenging as your body adapts to it. Add weights, alter the hand position, alter the leg position.
Well, 100 standard push-ups in a row is extremely challenging for even a seasoned athlete. So it will take a while for you to get to the baseline with the one punch man workout. Most people find it surprising that the push up is also a terrific cardiovascular workout.
Sit-ups are a slightly controversial choice for a core exercise given that they have gotten a bad rap for being an outdated exercise from strength training and fitness experts. (2) But it’s a widely debated topic with no clear consensus really.
There have been studies that prove otherwise.
And we all know, the sit-up has for years been associated with a slimmer waist line and stronger abdominal muscles. So, unless you have extremely tight hip-flexors, in which case the plank might be a slightly better pick, there’s no harm in doing 100-sit ups a day. It builds core strength, improves your posture, improves flexibility and markedly reduces your risk of injuries.
The squat is a very thoughtful addition to the One Punch Man workout. It targets the most number of muscle groups at one time (If you add weight to it). While it works almost all muscles in the lower body, it also works your core, your back, your shoulders, improves your stability, balance, posture, flexibility and athleticism. It is as effective as aerobic exercise to burn calories.
According to the ACA, it also strengthens your tendons, ligaments and joints making you less prone to injury. It’s the whole 9-yards. 100-body weight squats are not a lot, unlike 100-push-ups though. So you might get to the baseline figure a lot sooner than you expect to. However, there are multiple variations that you can try, like the sumo squat, the goblet and the front squat. If you ever get the feeling that you are too strong for conventional squats, try the one-legged pistol.
The 10-km run is included in the one punch man workout as the cardio component. In all likelihood, you need no introduction to the benefits of a daily run. It produces endorphins that make you feel great. It burns calories. It increases your overall fitness.
It gives you some much-needed daily dose of Vitamin D. It also reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease greatly. A 10-km run like Saitama might sound great in theory. But practically, it might be a little overwhelming for the first timer. You can however start with a much smaller distance and gradually add to it, until you hit the 10-km distance.
Is this workout challenge Effective?
Many of you are wondering if this workout is even effective and if so is it sustainable?
Is there any proof of real world people actually completing this workout? In fact, there is, Sean Seah is one perfect example of somebody who completed this workout over the course of 300 days and logged his results for the entire time.
Here is the video log of his journey and of his results
What are the Pros and Cons of the One Punch Man Workout?
The different exercises in the one punch man workout are almost sufficient to target all the muscles in your body. It’s not wonder this workout has been of popular discussion in the forums lately. (3)
Many people are speculating what just might happen if you were to keep this workout up everyday. What would you physique look like? Would you be too ripped for your own good?
However, it does have a few drawbacks as well.
- It is a very convenient workout routine that can be performed anywhere without the need for specialized equipment. Even if you hate driving to the gym, or you are traveling most of the time, it has you covered.
- There’s enough variation to prevent boredom. Believe it or not, it’s often the mundanity of performing the same exercises over and over, that prevents people from being consistent with it. But with the One Punch Man workout, there are tons of possible variations with and without weight. You’ll never stop because you were bored with it.
- It builds both muscular and cardiovascular endurance. If you follow this workout every day for even a year, you’ll become a much better athlete with stronger muscles and increased cardiovascular capacity.
- It targets most muscle groups of the upper and lower body, and the core.
- There’s one major missing component in the workout, pulling movements. Push-ups push the weight away from the body during the concentric phase of the exercise and the muscle is lengthened in the eccentric phase. In a pulling move, the weight is pulled towards the body during the concentric phase. Pulling exercises are critical if you wish to target primary moving muscles such as your deltoids, pectorals, glutes, triceps and quads. If you have a pull-up bar, adding a few sets of pull-ups will greatly improve the One Punch Man workout. However, don’t expect to be able to do 100-pull ups. Why you might find it difficult to do even 50 pull ups for a long, long time. Start with 10 and work your way upwards from there.
- Since it primarily uses bodyweight, you do not develop explosive strength that’s needed for moving really heavy weight. If you are looking at hypertrophy and raw strength, then the one punch man workout might not be sufficient.
How to Get Started with the One Punch Man Workout
All said and done, how do you get started with the one punch man workout?
That depends on your current fitness level, your muscle endurance, experience with training and your diet.
There are four critical things that you need to understand in order to make this workout effective.
Be Patient, Don’t Rush Results
You might not be able to crank out a 100 reps of any exercise in one set. Even the most experienced athlete might not be able to do 100 push-ups right off the bat. So don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t able to match this. Instead, start with multiple sets of fewer reps. You can divide the 100 push-ups into four sets of 25 or 5 sets of 20. The goal should be to reduce the number of sets it takes for you to get to 100 reps. Eventually, you will be able to do 100 push-ups in one set.
Do Not do the Workout Every Day
Start with three days a week, with three rest days. The rest days is when your body will recuperate from the workout and grow. Doing a full body workout every other day is your best bet rather than everyday. This will give you body time to recover.
In all probability, you will adapt to the three-workout day week a lot sooner than you imagine. You can then increase it to four workouts a week and then to five. Five-Six days is the maximum that anybody should exercise.
Alter the Workouts as and When you Hit a Plateau
Progressive overload is the key to success. Unless you constantly increase stress to your muscles, your growth will stagnate. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always need to add weight to induce stress. You can increase the reps or reduce the rest time between sets, or just increase the tempo of the reps. Go deeper during the squats, use paralletes for push-ups to increase the range of motion.
Eat for Growth
You can do the most advanced workout routine in the world and it won’t mean shit unless you are eating for growth. Calculate your maintenance calories and eat in a slight surplus while focusing on your macro nutrient count. You need at least 0.8 grams of protein for every lbs. of your bodyweight. Do not avoid any single food group. Carbs are not your enemy, neither is fat. You just need to eat more than you burn and you will grow. As long as you are not eating junk, most of that growth will be muscle.
Recommended Starting Routines
When you are just getting started with this workout you will want to start off easy until your body can get used to the exercises that you will be putting it through.
Trust me, even if you are like everybody else and think you that you can do this workout everyday without exception I can almost promise you that unless you are in top shape, you can not. (4)
Here are the recommended starting routines
Beginner One Punch Man Workout
Here’s a sample One Punch Man Workout for beginners.
Weeks 1-2: Mon, Wed, Fri
- 5 x 10 Push-Ups. (You can do modifiers with the knee on the ground if you cannot do a regular push-up yet)
- 5 x 10 Sit-Ups
- 5 x 20 Squats
- 3 km run
Weeks 3-4: Mon, Wed, Fri
- 4 x 15 Push-Ups
- 4 x 15 Sit-Ups
- 4 x 25 Squats
- 5 km run
Intermediate One Punch Man Workout
Here’s a sample One Punch Man Workout for intermediate athletes
Weeks 1-2: Mon, Tue, Thurs, Fri
- 5 X 15 Push-ups
- 5 x 15 Sit-Ups
- 3 x 30 Squats
- 5 km run
Weeks 3-4: Mon, Tue, Thurs, Fri
- 5 X 20 Push-ups
- 5 x 20 Sit-ups
- 3 x 40 Squats
- 10 km run
Advanced One Punch Man Challenge
Here’s a sample one punch routine for advanced athletes
- 1 X 100 Push-ups or 2 x 50 Push-ups or 2 x 50 Push-ups with weighted vest
- 1 x 100 Sit-ups or 2 x 50 Sit-ups
- 1 x 100 Bodyweight squats and 2 x 20 weighted squats with dumbbell, barbell or kettlebell
- 15 km run
All these workout plans can be used as a baseline to get started with the one punch man workout routine. You can add to this or reduce the number of reps or sets depending on your current fitness and/or any health conditions that might prevent you from working out.
Eating Done Right for the One Punch Man Workout
Saitama’s superhero strength came from simple rules. He ate three meals in a day and never skipped breakfast, even if it was limited to a banana.
But for mere mortals like you and me, the diet needs to be better suited for workout and recovery.
The key is to get enough protein, carbs and fats while eating in a slight surplus.
Dieting for athletes is not as difficult as it is made out to be. Meal preps are another matter altogether though. If you hate prepping meals as much as I do, then you’d want to consider adding a meal replacement shake to your routine.
My Favorite Meal Replacement
Kachava is my personal favorite. It is a plant based meal replacement shake that’s loaded with veggies, fruits, adaptogen herbs and 50% of the RDA of vitamins and minerals. Each shake gives you 24 grams of plant-based protein at just 150 calories. It’s a no-brainer really. If you are traveling during the day and find yourself relying on takeaway meals and junk food, then go for Kachava instead. It is a perfect way to meet your macros while staying within your calorie limit.
I am a huge fan of sourcing my protein from real food as opposed to sourcing it from protein shakes. But to be honest, I find it impossible to eat enough food to match my required protein intake, which is close to 200 grams every day. So, I add two scoops of my favorite protein powder to my post workout meal.
My Favorite Protein Powder
That’s Jocko Molk, in case you are wondering. Jocko Molk is a pure Whey Isolate protein that’s sourced from 100% grass fed whey. One scoop gives you 21 grams of Protein. It is fast absorbing, tastes incredibly delicious and is available in a whole bunch of flavors. More importantly, it has minimal ingredients with zero fillers.
I was using a blended Whey protein that was cheaper. But it caused a lot of bloating and flatulence, which pretty much disappeared once I switched to Jocko. It also contains some probiotics that make it easier to get digested.
Lastly, I occasionally use a pre-workout drink, especially on the days when I am pretty tired to begin with.
My Favorite Pre-Workout
Vintage Blast has been my favorite for over three years. It is one of the cleanest label pre-workout beverages in the world. It is sugar-free and does not contain any artificial colors or flavors. The ingredients are limited, but science backed.
There’s 250mg of Caffeine, 2 grams of DAA, 250 mg of N-Acetyl Tyrosine, 1 gram of Arginine and 5 grams of L-Citrulline Malate. Not only does it provide you with a consistent source of energy to fuel your workouts with, it also reduces muscle soreness and aids recovery.
In addition to this, I take a daily dose of Fish Oil and occasionally, some taurine if I am getting lower body cramps.
That’s it. You don’t really need fancy, overpriced supplements to build your dream physique.
100 pushups 100 situps 100 squats, 6 miles of running.. Can You Do It?
For a manga that was published on one single page, Saitama and the One Punch Man surely have captured the imagination of the world.
The fact that it is now inspiring people to start exercising speaks volumes about the influence that superheroes have on us.
Well, the more the merrier.
I hope that this article helps you understand the advantages and the pitfalls of the One Punch man workout.
You can also use this as a reference to design a customized One punch man workout for yourself.