The One Punch Man Workout: Train Like Saitama

Feb 10, 2023 | 0 comments

The One Punch Man workout routine involves doing 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and running 10 km every day. Although this routine may seem effective, it can cause imbalances and pain.

What Is One Punch Man Workout?

100 push-ups, 100 sit ups, 100 squats and 10 kilometers of running… every day! This is the routine of one of the most popular manga characters of his generation, Saitama from the One Punch Man series.

Although the character is fictional, many people have tried this training in “real life”. What can we expect from it, is it a good training method to dry and gain muscle?

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The One Punch Man Workout Routine

All the exercises are polyarticular, so they all involve several muscles at the same time, which is a good thing… That being said, this selection is not without flaws.

Which muscles are targeted?

  • Push-ups work the muscles at the front of the body responsible for pushing: triceps, pectorals, anterior deltoids and, to a lesser extent, the abs.
  • Sit-ups target the hip flexors and the rectus abdominis muscles.
  • Squats place most of the muscle tension on the quadriceps and glutes.
  • Finally, running, although more of an endurance exercise than a strength exercise, works more on the lower body.

So, who is in charge of the muscles at the back of the body: posterior deltoids, rhomboids, trapezius, and lats? If you want a harmonious and balanced physique, you can’t afford to ignore them.

In the long run, you could have muscular imbalances, a posture that falls forward with shoulders that become rounded.

Let’s talk about the sit-ups :

Doing 100 sit ups a day could lead to back pain and some wear and tear on your intervertebral discs. Also, this exercise works mostly the hip flexors rather than the abs (the abs only work to lift the shoulders, then the hip flexors take over to lift the lower back)…

In short, they are not effective in working the abs and can cause back pain.

Crunches ! It’s true that they will be more effective in activating the rectus, but still, 100 crunches a day is not a good solution (especially when the movement in question involves bending the spine). Abs are muscles like any other that need to recover between each work session.

Running :

Running is not a bad activity by any means, but running every day is certainly not for everyone, especially with a distance as long as 10 km. Of course, this sentence would make an ultra trailer or a marathon runner laugh, able to run 20 to 25 km daily, but even these people did not get there overnight.

You first have to learn a certain technique, then gain experience in running and gradually increase your training volume. Otherwise, the body may not be able to adapt properly and injuries will inevitably occur.

In short, if you do too much: too fast and/or too hard and/or too often and/or too long, your body may not be able to adapt quickly enough. If you are not used to running such distances, reduce for 1 to 3 km, increase gradually and give your muscles, tendons and ligaments time to recover.

Here’s What a “Better Routine” Might Look Like

Not to disparage Saitama’s program, but here’s what you could do to be more effective:

  • 100 push-ups (playing with different variations/temp),
  • 100 rowing exercises to ensure a harmonious development of the body,
  • 100 squats and/or variations,
  • 1-3 km of running to be increased gradually.

If you really want an abs exercise, add crunches, but not every day.

Why rowing?

As previously mentioned, we want an exercise that will activate the muscles at the back of our body: large back, trapezius, posterior deltoids, rhomboids. Moreover, the biceps were also missing, so what better way than to work all these muscles with bodyweight rowing, like pull-ups.

Alternatively, opt for Australian pull-ups, which are the exact opposite of push-ups (pulling with the body in a horizontal position) and are accessible to all levels.

How Often Should I Train?

Is it really productive to train your whole body every day? When you understand that muscles do not develop during training, but during the recovery phase, you have answered the question!

As beginners, training every muscle in your body every day is a sure way to sabotage your muscle gains!

It’s no coincidence that most “full body” workout plans for beginners only include a maximum of 3 sessions per week, separated by recovery days. Of course, this depends on the intensity of your workouts and the exercises that make up the workout.

So we could rather imagine this schedule:

  • Monday: modified one punch man
  • Tuesday: active recovery (walking, swimming, cycling, mobility)
  • Wednesday: modified one punch man
  • Thursday: active recovery (walking, swimming, cycling, mobility)
  • Friday: modified one punch man
  • Saturday: active recovery (walking, swimming, cycling, mobility)
  • Sunday: active recovery (walking, swimming, cycling, mobility)

Your muscles, tendons and ligaments need to rest, especially if you push hard in every workout. The same goes for your nervous system! This applies to beginners, but not only.

The Problem Of Fixed Repetitions

The last thing that is wrong with this training method is the arbitrary number of reps set.

Why 100, why not 200 or 500? And why the same number for all exercises? Most people will probably have a hard time doing 10 push-ups while they will find the 10 squats rather “easy”.

In order to challenge yourself and progress properly, you should always choose appropriate exercise variations. If 100 squats are too easy for you, why not do 100 side lunges, 100 jump squats or 100 jumping lunges?

No room for progression…

The second problem with 100 reps is that it leaves no room for the concept of progressive overload. It’s 100 each time and then that’s it.

For a beginner, this will probably be too many reps. For an advanced exerciser, it won’t be enough to hope for progression. You could very quickly adapt and not progress at all.

The solution is again to add variety and always move to a variation of movement that challenges you. Start with 100 handstands or knees down, then 100 regular pushups, then 100 archer push ups, then 100 footstands, then stand up, etc.

Do the same for the other exercises, increase the difficulty of your Australian pull-ups by placing your body more and more horizontally, then progress to pull-ups.

Constantly adapting the exercises to your level will keep you from getting stagnant!

Does The One Punch Man Workout Work?

This program is easy to set up and quite fun, but we have to admit that as it is, it cannot be used as a complete training plan in the long term (especially not in 3 complete years like Saitama did in the manga).

So rather than launching into this method as it was described in the series and potentially running to injury, adapt it as follows.

  • Replace the training frequency by allowing recovery days between workouts (3 sessions max per week, especially in the beginning).
  • Opt for a smarter choice of exercises that will work all the muscles of the body.
  • Opt for variations that will challenge you sufficiently and allow you to progress.
  • Don’t start with 10 km of running, especially if you have little or no experience.
  • Give your body time to adapt and recover, aim for the long term and be patient.
  • Make sure you master the technique of your exercises before anything else, quality of reps > quantity!

There are so many exercises and forms of training that it would be a shame to stick to the same 4 movements all the time.

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