There’s a good reason 30-day pushup challenges are among the most popular that people take on every New Year: The simple bodyweight movement can be done practically anywhere, and it offers a simple, effective way to target multiple upper body and core muscle groups.
That makes the exercise highly appealing even if you happen to be a two-time Olympian, as pro runner Nick Symmonds recently demonstrated on his YouTube Channel. Symmonds, who is no stranger to taking on challenges of all stripes, says he needed a goal to help him stay motivated with many gyms still closed. Taking a queue from popular YouTuber Browney, who once did 200 pushups a day for 30 days, Symmonds decided to up the ante and do 300 pushups.
Symmonds starts by taking his measurements—right bicep (14.5″), left bicep (13.7″), and chest (49″). He also has a solid baseline to work from, having recently done about 37 pushups to failure while taking on the U.S. Army Fitness Test. His goal by the end: Crank out 100 unbroken pushups. At first, Symmonds struggles: After just one day, his chest is so sore that he decides to come up with a plan, breaking the pushups into small increments spread throughout the day, rather than all at once, with the goal of making the workouts less agonizing.
By day 7, things don’t seem to be getting much better, but as Symmonds says, “I guess I have to remind myself that sometimes when you’re doing these things, it gets harder before it’s easier,” recalling that he used to see a similar effect with his running workouts. Over the next 3 weeks, he tries to scale his pushups higher—aiming for 30 sets of 10 throughout the day.
After one final push, it’s time for the big reveal: Symmonds manages add a modest amount of mass to his left bicep (14.5″), but none to his right. As for his chest, he sees more impressive gains of two inches, putting him at 51. Finally, with thousands of pushups now behind him, he tries to make good on his original goal of 100 broken pushups. Watch the video above to see if he succeeds.
Mike Darling is an executive editor at Men’s Health where he assigns and edits coverage around the brand’s core subject areas, including fitness, style and grooming, sex and relationships, and technology and gear.
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