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, a single 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 in real fight if you follow the one punch man workout religiously and maintain a more frequent training routine?
Let’s find out.
What is the One Punch Man Workout?
During the course of the series, Saitama reveals his secret fitness one punch man 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 or build a backyard gym.
There are four parts to the workout.
The classic Push up is a compound workout that builds strength, endurance and hypertrophy in your upper body. It targets almost all major upper body muscles including muscle groups in the shoulders, working your triceps, if they’re not growing, and pectorals.
It can be done anywhere, anytime. And during your beginning days, you can try easier modified pushups to break yourself in as you burn any excess fat and build strength. But unlike other workouts such as the alternating dumbbell press or the military press, you won’t need any of those powerblock dumbbells or a Cap Barbell bar for the push-up. The good thing about this exercise is that it 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 plank or push-up. There’s always ways to make them more and more challenging as your body adapts to it. Add weights if need be, a set of dumbbells like this one from Rogue Fitness will work just fine, 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 cardio after workout exercise.
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, done with the proper form, this exercise ranks up there with other similar workouts that target the same muscle groups; the likes of leg raises, decline pushups, and regular forearm planks.
The sit-up has for years been associated with a slimmer waist line, fixing muscle imbalances, enhancing spinal health and stronger abdominal muscles.
So, unless you have extremely tight hip-flexors, in which case less advanced versions of the plank might be a slightly better pick, there’s no harm in doing 100-sit ups a day. It hits the rectus abdominis and several other core muscles to build core strength and carve out a nice six pack or 10-pack abs.
And like several other exercises, sit-ups also offer compound benefits like helping significantly boost your posture, improving flexibility and markedly reduced your risk of injuries.
The squat is a very thoughtful addition to the One Punch Man workout and just about any other exercise regimen. It targets the most number of muscle groups at one time (If you do it with a weighted vest or add weight to it – yes, you can do squats on a hack squat machine, like this one, which is the one i own, but this one right here is also a great pick and both are available on Amazon. If these machines are a bit beyond your budget, then even an affordable barbell (I’d recommend this Cap “Rebel” bar or “the Beast” bar) and enough weights will do the trick, your call!).
While it works almost all muscles in the lower body, it also works your back, your shoulders, improves your stability, balance, posture, flexibility and athleticism. And yes, it’s an awesome ab burning exercise, too. It is as effective as aerobic exercise, and as science says, exercise does increase metabolism and 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. Unlike 100 push-ups, 100-body weight squats are completely achievable. You don’t even need to start with too many reps; the best way is to shoot for 10 squats, then 60 squats, then 80 squats, and you’ll get to the baseline figure a lot sooner than you expect to.
However, there are multiple variations of the same workout 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 that even doing squats everyday just doesn’t cut it for you, 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, whether you’re in it for weight loss, or other benefits like running for weight gain.
It produces endorphins that make you feel great. It burns calories. It also helps in working larger muscle groups in the legs, and with more intense sessions, it ensures your heart pumps blood faster and increases your overall fitness.
It gives you some much-needed daily dose of Vitamin D. It also boosts your cardiovascular health and thus reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease greatly. A 10-km run every day like Saitama might sound great in theory.
But practically, it might be a little overwhelming, especially for the first time. You just can’t run that entire distance in one go or on your first day.
As most experts will tell you, you can start small and gradually raise the bar, until you hit the 10-km distance. For beginners who might be wondering just how long you should run on your treadmill, we asked around, and all experts agree that the secret is to start slow and ramp it up on the fly to hit high number of kilometers .
This is where the money you had to splurge on a treadmill proves extremely rewarding, since you can always clock the miles in the comfort and convenience of your home. No worries over bad weather, concerns over your safety when crisscrossing roads with busy traffic or having to run on a lonely road during the night if that’s the only time you can.
Besides, if you have an incline treadmill like the Nordictrack 2950, you can make the most of its impressive incline and decline settings to simulate outdoor uphill and slope runs – then there are all those extra features to go for, check it out on Amazon by clicking here.
For the best overall experience, I’d say get the Bowflex BXT216, I have been punishing this bad boy for years and I’m always the one to pull the plug after long runs. And as the reviews on Amazon allude, I’m not the only one who’s in love with this treadmill.
But for a treadmill that gives you a double dose of both exercise and entertainment, you’ll love the I11.9 Incline trainer. Boasting everything from incline setting, powerful motor, awesome console with internet and TV option to impressive high speeds, this treadmill is hands down the machine for such long runs if you get bored pretty fast. Click here to check it out on Amazon.
But if you’re on a shoestring budget and those fancy treadmills are well out of your range, don’t worry, even a regular treadmill like this one here gets the job done. After all, your success is all about how hard you’re willing to work to hit each day’s milestone.
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 life people actually completing this workout? In fact, there is, Sean Seah is one perfect example of somebody who completed saitama’s workout over the course of several months, 300 days to be precise, 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 types of 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 total body workout up everyday. What would your 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 in saitama workout prevent boredom that comes with repetitive workout. 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, the only time you may take resting minutes is to give your muscles recovery time to avoid muscle soreness or more serious damage like overuse injuries – which is by far the biggest issue among many athletes.
- It helps build strong muscles, cardiorespiratory fitness and 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 health and capacity.
- It targets almost all the primary muscles of the upper and lower body, and effective core training too. With regular training, you saitama workout can be extremely rewarding, helping you achieve remarkable muscular endurance training and to build muscle mass in the aforementioned muscle groups.
- 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 build bigger 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 is primarily a combo of three compound bodyweight workouts, you do not develop explosive strength that’s needed for moving really heavy weight training like on the sumo deadlift machine. If you are looking at hypertrophy and building strength, then going with just 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 (so yeah, measuring your fitness level beforehand helps), your muscle endurance, experience with training and your diet – be it fasting or scheduling your meals.
There are four critical things that you need to understand in order to make this workout effective.
Be Patient, Don’t Rush Results
Although it’s not the most difficult workout you’ve ever tried, you might not be able to crank out a 100 reps of any exercise in one set. Hey, you’re not the strongest man alive or a form of super hero anyway.
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 such higher reps. Instead, start with multiple sets of fewer reps and build endurance over time.
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 stimulates your entire body and still allows for recovery time that your body needs.
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. Four or five days should be 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 incrementally add weight to induce more stress gradually.
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. If need be, top up your daily rations with a protein shake here and there. I took 2 protein shakes a day with quite decent results.
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 exercise training that you will be putting it through.
Trust me, even if you are like everybody else and think that you can do this workout everyday without sufficient recovery time, 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
The start is obviously the hardest part that most people face, the first few weeks as your body is exposed to and becomes accustomed to a different kind of daily activity.
Here’s a sample One Punch Man Workout for beginners to help you stay effective with a great sense of accomplishment along the way.
Weeks 1-2: Mon, Wed, Fri
- 5 x 10 Push-Ups. (You can do modifiers with the knee on the ground if you do not feel comfortable with 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 bodyweight exercise routine bodyweight workouts 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 adjustable dumbbells, kettlebell, or one of those affordable barbells on the market.
- 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 more reps to this, slowly lower the intensity 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 story of gaining his most powerful superhero strength came from simple rules. Saitama claims 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 rigorous workout and recovery if we are to achieve the same results, or at least hit our fitness goals.
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 a great choice. 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 – check out more deets on this in-depth Kachava review.
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.
While Kachava is cool, Lyfe Fuel Essentials shake has proven to be my personal favorite of late. Not just because it is an excellent option, crammed full of the good stuff and tastes great, but also thanks to the fact that it’s also cheaper than kachava.
Both of these shakes offer 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
4 Gauge has been my favorite for about three years – for good reasons, as you can see in my 4-Gauge pre-workout review. It is one of the cleanest label pre-workout beverages in the world , soaring head and shoulders above other natural prewo-rkouts out there, and yes, it’s one of the best pre-workouts without beta-alanine.
It is sugar-free and does not contain waste filler junk that all others definitely do. They keep the ingredients limited, but science backed.
Among the long list of ingredients packed into each can are the following;
150mg of caffeine anhydrous, which is a natural stimulant sourced from coffee beans and cacao. As the name suggests, this is basically dehydrated caffeine, which, when in this form tends to be more concentrated than in any other form like the average caffeine.
You also get 200mg of L-theanine, a unique amino acid found in tea leaves, which is great for energy and enabling you to focus.
Up to 6000mg of L-citrulline DL-malate, a non-essential amino acid that proves effective at enhancing muscle growth and could potentially boost your endurance.
Other ingredients like creatine monohydrate (1000mg) and Red Beet (300mg) are also available, with the former helping with enhancing strength and mass growth, and the latter being great for enhancing performance and endurance.
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.