After listening to a 30 from 30 podcast “The Fighter Inside” I became extremely interested in the physical training undertaken by the podcasts main character James Scott.
During the podcast I was intrigued to learn of a professional boxer that was convicted of armed robbery in 1975. From inside a state penitentiary, James Scott is the unlikely story of an inmate who was able to continue his boxing career while behind bars, thanks to a visionary prison warden.
The warden who outlined that Scott was unable to attend a public arena due to his incarceration enabled HBO to telecast a the fight from inside the penitentiary effectively bringing the area and public to Scott behind bars.
Murad Muhammad was just starting out as a boxing promoter when he got a call from an inmate saying he had to come to Rahway to see James Scott. What he saw blew him away.
MURAD MUHAMMAD: He was built like Hercules. I said, “Excuse me, how you build your body like that?” “I do a thousand pushups a day.” I say, “You do a thousand pushups a day?” “Yes and a thousand sit ups.” I said, “My god, can you fight?” He said, “Yes I can fight. Can you promote?” I said, “We have something here.” He was a body puncher. A sensational body puncher. He didn’t believe he could be beat. We called him ‘The Great Scott.’’
-Transcript from 30 from 30 podcast
Scott would fight the number one contender Eddie Gregory whom he defeated in Rahway State Prison in New Jersey.
Bob Hatrak was warden at the prison who set up a boxing program where a number of inmates trained with Scott.“All of us even trained, we were doing a thousand push-up a day” stated Heath Hill a training partner of Scott in the 30 from 30 podcast. Throughout documentary the boxing commentators speak about Scott's strength and stamina.
This got me thinking, could 1000 push-ups a day turn you into Hercules? Could that amount of repetition build size to emulate a figure like Hercules? Or was Scott just genetically gifted with broad shoulders and a large chest. I did some further research and watched Scott’s fights on Youtube. No doubt he was in great shape especially for 1975 on a prison diet.
This documentary inspired me to undergo an experiment of 1000 pushups a day for a year to see the out comes. Let the games begin!
Day one, Armed with my Kmart push-up handles, and my iPhone app. RepCount. I began my first set, I sunk deep into the repetitions and exploded up as I exhaled out. Push up after push up, I had began my journey. In the comfort of my own home, I’d started my mission to the elusive 1000 push-ups. Day one wasn't about how many reps or how many sets, it was about getting it done.
My chest aching as I pushed in the the seven and eight hundreds fuelled by the near completion giving me strength to push on. Finally the final ten then five then the last repetition. It felt amazing to of completed the thousand push-ups. I could finally tick day one off.
Day two started a bit sore with the lactic acid still in the pictorial muscles. Once I got into my rhythm I continued to tick over the push-ups a little quicker than the day before. I like to do my push-ups in a block meaning getting the thousand done in around an hour.
Day three the hardest day yet. My muscles are screaming with the lactic acid from day one I guess it's that two day post workout soreness I've seemed to get once leaving my 20s and into my 30s. Now being 37 I guess expected to feel some soreness after 1000 push-ups. Although difficult I manage to push through,I took more time to recover. I completed the work and 82 minutes about 20 more minutes recovery than usual.
Day four was great, no soreness at all. The first set started off great with about 54 repetitions. Following the first set I would hang around 30 repetitions all the way through until I’d ticked over 1000. Day four was extremely quick and was completed in 51 minutes.
Day 5,6,7, during these three days I continued to tick 1000 push-ups off each day. Nothing of real note to report.
Day 8, I'll call this dickhead day. Yup it's my fault, I did the crime so I’ll do the time. And it was just that, really hard time. After thinking it was a great idea to consume three quarters of a bottle of Jamison Irish whiskey the night before I'm awoke with the extreme headache and my body aching for hydration. I was in the mist of an extreme hangover, but not to put a line through my name just yet and when the quit bell I scootered down to the beach and began my workout. I thought day three was bad, well day eight is the new worst day.
Nothing to report. 1K done 😊
In double digits hooray! the small achievements need to be celebrated. My body is adapting quickly to the vigorous onslaught of push-ups. Without really focussing on speeding up the session my RepCount app showed I completed the 1000 in 47 minutes
I positioned my palms on the grass avoiding any canine cables left over from a early morning walk. With my hands shoulder with apart I began another 1K a day. Without the handles I was able to complete more reps in each set. I could comfortably add 10 repetitions to each set compared to a handed equipped set. I believe it's because the range of motion is less and traditional push-up saving more precious energy for the later repetitions when nearing exhaustion. The speed of the repetition is also easily increased with a traditional push up compared to its grip grabbing handle friend. Finding 1000 easier to complete with the traditional push up, I would use this sparingly, sticking to my handles to increase my fitness and capabilities for when the time would come when this will test my Mental and physical strength
I rest, sucking in much needed oxygen for my burning muscles. I find myself zoning out as I try to escape the current scenario. 500 down, 500 to go, I think to myself. Quickly reminded of the task at hand and drop to the handles for another set of 30, trying to limit my recovery so I continue to improve on my overall time taken to complete this boring task.
Yesterday was a good day, only taking 41 minutes to acquire the 1000. However today would be different, distracted by the world unfolding before me, my attention easily consumed by anything other than another set of pushups. This was a noticeable discovery, to continue to reduce the prolonged time to achieve the 1K day, I’ll have to consciously focus on reducing my recovery and the amount of stimuli presented in such a picturesque location, so not to distract me from the what seemed eternal repetitiveness.
I align my handles in there usual position facing east on the Australian mid coast. I set up my iwatch timer and begin the repetitive workout. I push out the first 80 reps until my pectorals seize and I drop to my knees and sit up for some much needed recovery. I glance to my watch and notice I have only 20 seconds until a new minute begins where I’d need to be back in the push up position to go again.
This workout was to be completed on the minute every minute, meaning no matter where I’d finished my last set, once the new minute began so did my next set. Sweet began to beed on my forehead and time ticked over, my muscles burned as I could only manage sets of 30 as I struggled with the lack of rest. My world became so small, my full attention was on the clock and recovery as mush as I could before I was due back on the handles. There could have been cluster of tight daisy dukes and bikini tops parading along the path in front of me only feet away and I would have been none the wiser. I was in the zone my mind was tied ton the push up handles and the clock. Within 34 minutes with no destructions it was all over, 1000 push ups had been completed.
Beginning to get a sore lower back from the constant bridging position. So will add stretching into the routine ton hopefully reduce then pain.
4:30 am I completed my 1000 push ups. After the workout I exited the shower and donned my uniform. As a firefighter I’m required to wear a blue button down shirt with my rank displayed on the shoulders and the services insignia displayed on the sleves. I began at the bottom and moved my way up button by button towards the top. As I reached the chest I noticed there was an issue. The button and it’s familiar hole were struggling to dock as they were unable to reach each other. With a bit more force applied I was able to make the connection however this button was now under constant load.
The last day of month one and it was time to get set some idea how I was progressing with my overall time I could complete my 1000 push ups. As I was going for speed I forwent my beloved handles and went freestyle. With palms to the carpet I erupted into my first set counting vigorously as I went. I pushed and pushed until the only thing left was pain as movement ceased a short time before. I fell to the floor gasping for air, I lay there for a while before draging myself to my knees. I reached for phone and added 108 reps to my RepCount app. After setting a new first set personal best I continued on only allowing short breaks. The lack of handles made easier to complete more reps each set as the range of movement less and the return energy from the ground through the palm is far superior than the reaction when using the handles. No doubt some of the force is lost though the handles making the exercise harder. I pushed on and was able to complete the 1000 push ups in 28 minutes. Although quite exhausted it was and exhilarating feeling going under 30 minutes. Even though this is a more efficient way of completing the 1000 push-ups. I’ll will continue to use the handles to be able to create better results in the future.
I’m continuing to use my beloved push-up handles, over the last few days Ive really focused on pushing to failure during each set. Because of this, today I've noticed that I've been able to average 40 reps per set reducing the overall sets required to achieve the 1K a day. At only day 40 I'm surprised with the adaptation and transformation that is taking place it makes me wonder about the possibilities for when I finally arrive at day 340
I spun to the sound of woop Woop blaring from a police car that had come to a screaming halt only metres behind me on the road parallel with the beachfront. I removed my headphones and quickly looked both ways to see who is attention they were trying to catch. Then I dishevelled man on a bike road straight between myself and the police car on the footpath. The offices have activated the usual police waling siren as they screamed up the road to try and intercept the bicycle rider further up the path along the beach.
The police car moved ahead of the cyclist and moved across the grass on foot to apprehend the rider. The cyclist double backed on him self to avoid capture and began ridng towards me away from the looming arms of the law.
They weren't going to be able to catch him on foot that have to return to the vehicle, turn around and take up pursuit again. But me on the other hand, all I had to do was wait for the prey just to the side of the path where I was already exercising, then in quick swoop step onto the path and drag to cyclist from his bicycle.
I was excited with the plan I formulated.
To not allude the cyclist to my plan I pretended like I was recovering from a set with my hands on hips and then moving them to my knees bent over breathing in the oxygen.
By now I could hear the sirens of a second police car heading towards the scene, the cyclist now only 40 to 50 m away from me he was only multiple moments away from he's unknowingly transport disembarkent.
I peered out the side of my sunglasses as excitement grew with every stroke of the cyclists pedal. Then out of a barbecue area a council worker rushed over and sacked my cyclist only 20 m from my takedown point. The takedown was nice, it was a side on tackle pushing the cyclist to the ground and dethroning him from his bicycle. But I was disappointed my moment had been taken away from me like a thief in the night.
It was a brisk morning as I stood on the grass only meters from the sand as the sun was beginning to rise. I started the reputations, warming up with each push against gravity lifting my chest further from the ground. The elbow is feeling a little better than yesterday as I pushed into the first couple of hundred. By repetition 500 the sun had completely risen, the bright light made my eyes squint as I recovered in between sets. Like usual the final 300 seem to be the most draining and test your will and resolve. When I completed the 1000 I want to my “Done” app which keeps a record of how many consecutive days I completed this task. Although it should've been all smiles, 50 quickly humbled me as I realised how many more I would need to complete to achieve the 1K a day for a year.
Nothing to report
I walked through the rainforest track across a little bridge and out to the sprawling Moffat beach sand. It's 9:30 am and the sun is shining on this winters morning. There's a path along the beach with people walking dogs, drinking coffee, and joggers passing bye. I find myself a little piece of grass and still dueie from the cold night air. Without my handles I placed on palms on the short grass and began my push-up regime. This would be my first test I was on holidays away from my home yet I still need to complete my thousand push-ups a day. Although I didn't want to do it I need to complete the goal it was a necessity. Fortunately there is no equipment required just Will and determination. Because I didn't want to waste my holidays doing push-ups I was quick to complete the session and return to where my family were staying. I had to make this an nonnegotiable otherwise I'd fail. For the next three days I'll be away from home I'll have to force myself to complete these thousand push-ups a day even when I'm on vacation. It's easy to slip up on vacation it's an excuse it's an out clause but I won't be using it, not a chance.
Sunday morning feeling extremely flat at 06:30 hours. One of the hardest days in a while for some unknown reason. However a chest measurement of 116cm another centimetre gained this month is taking my total to three centimetres to my chest measurement.
With two months completed I again set up to complete 1000 push-ups in the most efficient way possible. I tossed my handles to the side and ready myself for the first step and set demolition which always hurts the most as I go for as many reps as possible. Even though I completed more days and had more push ups under my belt I struggled and only recorded 90 repetitions in the first set. Although the first numbers were down on my previous max attempt my following sets contained a consistent high repetition number then the end of the month One speed test. I was consistently focusing on reducing my amount of recovery instead of on the minute every minute I would move my recovery back five seconds reducing the recovery time in between sets each step. I sweated profusely as I continually looked at the stopcock getting ready for the next set. Breathing heavily and reaching the position and begin to push over and over focusing on completing this as fast as possible. The speed test a horrible or you want to do is relax but you can't you have to be focused the whole time, mind on the job, mind one the goal. Even with a reduced first set rep count you can’t dwell on that. You have to stay in the fight you have to forget about that and focus on the next set.The pain and suffering was worth it, this resulted in my thousand push-ups been completed in 26 minutes a new record and a little reminder to stay in the fight as setbacks no matter how small are inevitable.
Day 70 - it's cold as I look at my watch in the darkness 5:47 am. A southerly breeze comes off the bay chilling the beach where I prepare my towel and push-up handles. The fresh air is bitterly cold as I leave my jacket on and begin the workout. I look forward to finishing the set so I can retreat back to the warmth of my Toyota Prado where I sit in the boot and drape a rug over my legs to keep me warm. It's horrible, all I want to do is finish it however there's only one way to finish the thousand push-ups and that's by doing 1000 push-ups. I want to quit because it's uncomfortable, it's cold and boring. But I also understand if I quit I had done 70 days for nothing. I can't quit I've got a dig, I've got to get dirty, uncomfortable. I begin to focus on taking off the sets reminding myself that the only way you can stop is when I've completed the thousand. There is no shortcuts, there is no I'll do it tomorrow. The time is now to embrace the suck and push. Dragging myself out of the car I resume the position and work, just focusing on one thing and that's getting to the end and reminding myself how good it will feel to have not quit.