This is a particularly lengthy post chronicling my journey to do 10,000 pushups in one month. TLDR: I did 10,000 pushups in April and it changed my life.
At the end of March, I found myself deep in the world of Reddit killing time before calling it a night.
I happened to come across a guy who decided to do 10,000 pushups in one month and documented his progress.
Pretty cool I thought.
The following day, I couldn’t stop thinking about the number 10,000. Who in their right mind would do 10,000 pushups? That’s like doing 330+ pushups every day for an entire month! Talk about challenging.
I let the idea sit with me a couple days, before deciding that I was going to give it a go.
If he could do it.. why couldn’t I?
Now for some context.
Since the beginning of January, I’ve lost 20+ pounds and have made improving my health a priority. I’ve kicked the habit of smoking for good (thanks Pavlok), started meditating on a daily basis, and have gone to the gym with my dad three times a week. I’ve also made great strides in improving my diet.
While I’m not in the best shape in the world, I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in my energy and strength since taking my health seriously.
Back to the pushups.
10,000 pushups is a lot. Especially for a guy who could knock out no more than 50 in a row on a good day.
But my obsession with setting a big goal and making it happen took over.
I decided that on April 1st (April fools days of all days) I’d would start my journey to 10,000.
While I knew doing pushups has many benefits, the goal with the challenge wasn’t just to get ‘ripped’. For me, the challenge was more of a mental game.
Could I set a goal and reach it? Could I continue on in the face of adversity, aka push through the inevitable soreness?
Turns out the challenge was a success as I just crossed the 10,000. To be perfectly honest, it’s been a while since I’ve felt this proud.
I decided to do this challenge because I wanted to build on the momentum of my recent health kick. I knew doing that many pushups would certainly make me stronger, but I also knew it would be a good test of my mental fortitude.
My goal with the challenge was to get into slightly better shape and hopefully lose several pounds of fat while at the same time adding some muscle. But my main focus was to see how far I could push myself if / when times got tough.
I also liked the fact that I had to show up daily. If i skipped a day or did too few pushups, that would ultimately come back to hurt me (I found out the hard way.)
What parts of your life are you failing to show up?
Besides wanting the challenge, there was no specific reason as to why I chose the number 10,000 or the exercise of choice aside from reading about a random guy doing it through a random link on Reddit.
To be honest, because this was a self imposed challenge I didn’t have any hard rules in place. My goal was to do as many pushups as I could and hopefully cross the 10,000 pushup threshold all while sharing my journey even if I failed.
Going in, I knew there was a lot of debate on what makes a “proper pushup.” But for me, I didn’t really care too much about the details as long as I did my best. Several days in, I decided that knee pushups would not count in the tally – something several of my friends said I should consider.
Overall, I’d say 90 percent of pushups throughout the challenge would fall under the category of a proper pushup — with 10 percent landing on the “not the greatest form” spectrum. I did my best to have my chest touch the floor on every single one.
30 percent or so of the pushups were done with my feet balanced on a large mobility ball which helped strengthen my core in the process.
The reason I was so excited about this challenge is because I knew that even if I came up short, I would have done thousands of pushups I wouldn’t otherwise have done. My challenge was a success before it began.
After deciding I was going to give the 10,000 pushup challenge a go, I knew I needed a decent system to track my progress – some quick math revealed I would need to do 330 pushups each day to reach my goal.
Again, having not done more than 50 pushups in a row, there was certainly a fair share of doubt. 330 pushups a day was a lot, and I wasn’t sure if my body could handle it.
Going in, I knew that there was a decent chance I could fall flat at my face (figuratively and literally) and not even come close to reaching my goal.
I spent five minutes creating a very basic spreadsheet with the totals and created several formulas to give me an accurate tally at the end of the day. I made a commitment to share the excel sheet publicly (Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram etc) and promised myself I’d share the journey every step of the way.. even if I failed.
I’ll admit, having held myself publicly accountable helped me reach my goal. There were several days I didn’t want to do a single pushup, but the thought of telling everyone I know that I “skipped” a few days motivated me to hit the floor and twork up a sweat.
In hindsight, announcing such a “epic” challenge on April fools day probably wasn’t the best of ideas. Several of my friends reached out doubting my sincerity. It didn’t take long after seeing my Snapchat stories filled with sweat for them to take me seriously.
After posting my challenge on both Facebook and Twitter, the responses from my friends and family were mixed. Many were supportive, but quite a few questioned whether or not I’d be able to pull it off. To be fair, they weren’t the only ones who had concerns, as I also was not sure if I could make it.
While losing weight wasn’t the primary goal, I decided to take a “before” picture to see my transformation at the end of April.
Putting In The Work
One of the most difficult aspects of this challenge was the fact that there was no middle ground. I either hit my daily goal of pushups or did not.
There was no faking it.
This was both motivating and discouraging at the same time. Motivating, because I knew that if I hit my goal each day I’d be successful no matter what.
Discouraging, because on the few days I only did a few pushups, I questioned whether or not I’d be able to make up the difference.
As you can see from my chart, there were several days I only did 40 pushups which was well under my goal for the day.
Physically the challenge was extremely tough, but to be completely honest it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be – the hardest part was mental.
One reason I think the challenge wasn’t as difficult as imagined was that throughout the process I was constantly getting stronger. I did my best to give my body as much rest as possible between each day so that I could attack each round rested and refreshed.
I’ve received a lot of tweets and emails asking if I lost a bunch of weight during my challenge. The truth is, throughout the challenge I heavily neglected my diet so didn’t see the results I probably could have.
That being said, as I mentioned, this challenge wasn’t for the physical benefits but rather a way for me to test myself.
I did end up losing a few pounds and definitely became stronger. So from a health perspective I certainly can’t complain. 🙂
What Do You Do When No One Is Watching?
“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” – John Wooden
Because my challenge was self imposed, there was no ‘true’ accountability embedded. I had originally considered recording myself via my computer but that process proved to be too cumbersome to make sense.
With no one watching and me doing my pushups on my own, there was technically nothing stopping me from “adding” a few pushups to the tally to “reach my goals” each day.
While I never entertained the thought seriously, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind once or twice throughout the project – especially on the days I failed to hit the daily minimum number of pushups needed.
“If I don’t reach my goal.. I’ll be letting people down.”
“If I don’t make it, some of my friends will give me a hard time.”
“Several people have written to me saying this challenge inspires them.. if I don’t make it they won’t be inspired anymore.”
Of course, many of these thoughts were self serving and me fudging my numbers would defeat the entire purpose of the project.
Perhaps the best part of the experiment for me, was that I can honestly say I did 10,000 pushups.
The Cost of Procrastination
Intuitively we know that procrastination can be bad for us. It prevents us from reaching our goals, causes loads of unnecessary stress, and keeps us from getting stuff done.
When I began the pushup challenge, the math told me I needed to 330 pushups a day to reach my goal – a large but not entirely unreasonable number.
The first few days, I wasn’t able to reach the 330 due to straight up soreness, but I knew that over the next few days I could do a few extra to catchup.
After a few days of catching up, I started to wear down even more. It wasn’t long before I had several 40 pushup days. Whether it because I waited until late at night to start, or didn’t have time to do them throughout the day, the “procrastination” really added up.
As you can see from my chart, I had to knock out several 500+ pushup days just to hit my goal. Obviously, it would have been MUCH easier had I just did 330 each and every day.
The funny thing was, despite being such a physical challenge it taught me a lot about how procrastination could be hurting other areas of my life.
What areas of your life are you procrastinating? Take some time to evaluate where you’re “holding back.” It might not seem like a big deal when it happens once or twice, but when you keep putting things off the ‘cost’ goes through the roof.
Break Your Goals Down
Another super valuable I lesson I learned through this challenge was the power of breaking things down. If you’re even somewhat interested in the world of personal development you’ve surely heard the importance of “breaking your goals down.”
But if you’re like me, you often roll your eyes, and pretend the advice doesn’t apply to you.
Stop doing that. 🙂
The neat thing about this challenge was it was a ‘big” goal, but not too big when viewed in the lens of a single pushup.
At the beginning of the month many of my sets consisted of 10-15 pushups at a time. I finished the challenge with several sets of 50.
Another reason I found the challenge to be easier than anticipated was because the challenge was designed to where it could be easily broken down. I wasn’t required to do a certain amount of pushups per set.
In fact, many days I just did dozens of sets of 5 or 10 pushups at a time. This really helped me break my goal down into much more manageable pieces.
Don’t let your ambition of a big goal prevent you from taking any action at all… break it down!
If you want to start running, don’t say you’re going to run every day for a year straight. Instead, focus on one run at a time.
Over time those “single” runs will add up and you’ll go much further than just dreaming about what could be.
If you want to start a blog, don’t get bogged down with all the non necessities! Break your goal down to actionable steps. What do you need to get a blog going?
You’ll probably need a domain, some hosting, and that’s pretty much it!
If you want to start eating healthier, start with one healthy meal each day. Sure, it might be nice to think you can go cold turkey and eat nothing but healthy good, but in my experience, that’s just not the case.
Setting big goals can be super powerful, but only if you take the time to break each and every step down.
Break your goals down, and watch the results pour in.
Somebody’s Always Watching
When I started the challenge, I knew a few of my friends and family would be following along. But it was SUPER cool to see some of my Twitter followers decide to join in on the fun!
My good friends Jon, Marshall, and David of Need/Want tweeted me saying they were going to do their own pushup challenge! (Feel free to tweet them to check in on their progress!)
It was REALLY humbling to know that because I took action on something, that other people around the world were also starting to take action. I can’t tell you how great of a feeling that is.
It goes to show, that every action we take can affect other people’s lives.
Instead of focusing on why you can’t start a blog… focus on the thought of impacting other people’s lives!
Instead of focusing on the discipline it will take to eat healthier, focus on the potential friends and family you might inspire to do the same!
Instead of focusing on how much you dislike your current job, focus on doing work that fulfills you and watch how many people you inspire!
When we focus too much on ourselves, we lose sight of what matters… making the world a better place.
Becoming A Better You
No matter where you are in life right now, you can decide to improve any area of your life.
It won’t be easy. It won’t happen overnight.
But making the decision, and committing to personal growth will set you on a path of amazing discovery.
Want to become better socially? Start taking people to coffee or use Meetup.com.
Want to improve your relationship? Do a 30 day challenge with your partner.
Want to improve your fitness? Buy a gym membership and commit to going 3 times a week.
You don’t need anyone’s permission. You don’t need to wait for the “perfect circumstances.”
Even if you set a goal and come up short, you’re in a much better place than if you did nothing at all.. you literally cannot lose!
As the popular saying goes, the secret to getting ahead is getting started.
Well, first things first.. I don’t plan on doing anymore pushups for the foreseeable future hehe.
I do plan on continuing on with a 30 day challenge theme and will definitely be sharing my journey along the way. Right now I’m considering something that involves my diet, or building the A Boundless World brand.
I invite you to think about a 30 day challenge you can incorporate in your life. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, or mean anything to anybody. All that matters is you decide you’re going to do something and give it your best go!
I’d be delighted to hear if you’re going to do a 30 day challenge. I can honestly say doing 10k pushups truly changed my life.
P.S Thank you so much for the support, whether it be emails, tweets, phone calls, or texts. I couldn’t have done it without the awesome support from the ABW community.