Since 2009, I’ve followed the exploits of this bald badass named Saitama. And in a reveal just a few years back, he shares his superpowered training routine.
First, an introduction to the manga if you aren’t familiar: Saitama is a bald hero who has an unconventional issue. He is too strong to satisfy his desire to have a challenging fight, and often ends enemies with world-ending powers with a single punch.
Hence “One Punch Man”.
The manga itself started as a joke, poking fun at Japan’s action manga/anime cliches. Over time, it has spun off into a well-drawn (and now, well-animated) series drawing many fans who yearn to see Saitama need more than one good blow to kill a monster.
In the series, he reveals his secret training that transformed him from a humble Japanese man into a superhero. This is the One Punch Man Workout.
The One Punch Man Workout Routine
- 100 Push-Ups
- 100 Sit-Ups
- 100 Squats
- 10KM Running (that’s 6.2 miles)
Repeat 7 days a week. That’s it!
What Will Saitama’s Workout Do For You?
Now, a few observations on this routine, compared to real routines like Roam Strong’s Workout System.
Will you explode things in one punch and go bald? Probably not. But the routine is pretty good and offers some excellent health & body benefits.
This system does hit many major movement patterns. You have a pushing motion (push-ups), core training (sit-ups), leg training (squats), and some cardio (running). As far as fitness routines goes, this is superior to what people normally do at the gym. That is, these bodyweight exercises hit more muscle groups in a more natural pattern. No cable curls, no strange forced machine movements, and much less injury risk since all exercises are bodyweight only.
You could expect a routine like this to be great for an actual fighter. Boxers, martial artists, and other athletes looking for both explosiveness and muscular endurance (so you can throw a LOT of good punches, not just one) benefit from high-rep exercises, like 100 reps would accomplish. Your cardiovascular conditioning and muscular endurance would be phenomenal in the upper body (100 push-ups in a row is a lot), but you’d expect just average core and legs compared to a generic gym-goer. 100 squats and 100 sit-ups is not the most trying accomplishment on muscle.
Your cardiovascular health would be incredible! You have a good balance of strength work with road work (an old boxing term for running), and the two together turn your body into a juggernaut of fitness.
And since everything is bodyweight, you have no fear of ballooning up in weight. If you start to gain inefficient weight (fat), doing more push-ups, squats, and sit-ups becomes harder. So this bodyweight workout does an excellent job of regulating fat gain, but encouraging muscle gain.
However, this routine would not be the best if you’re looking to raw muscle size or raw muscle strength. While you will see positive muscle size increases and strength increases, the routine does not focus on them. You are better off following my bodyweight workout system or a conventional weightlifting protocol like Ice Cream Fitness if you want to lift heavy things.
It also lacks a pulling movement pattern, as found in pull-ups. Including pull-ups would make this a bulletproof workout plan. If you have access to a bar or can afford one, absolutely add pull-ups. Just don’t expect to hit 100 reps of them!
Pros of the One Punch Man Workout:
- Muscular Endurance
- Cardiovascular Endurance
- Really, really fun
- Very easy to follow
- No equipment needed!
Cons of the One Punch Man Workout:
- Not the most effective for hypertrophy (muscle size growth)
- Doesn’t build excellent force production (raw strength for heavy weights)
Ways to Work Up to Saitama’s Workout
If you’re inspired by your favorite fiction to work out (hell, that’s how I started out) then go for it! This workout is a pretty exciting and effective way to get seriously fit, even if you’re currently very unfit.
That said, Saitama’s workout isn’t as simple as just hammering out 100 reps of the 3 exercises and running 6.2 miles. But I have a solution.
Break up the 100 reps into multiple sets, with a 2-3 minute break inbetween. So instead of 100 reps of push-ups straight, you’ll work up to doing 5 sets of 20 (100 reps total). Then 5 sets of 25 (125 reps total). Then 4×25 (100 reps total). And so on.
The idea is, the less sets you need to get up to (or past) 100 reps, the better your muscular endurance and raw strength potential become. And eventually, you’ll find you only need 1 set to hit 100 push-ups!
ANOTHER OPTION: Instead of having a single workout time to do all these, strive to work in small sets of 1-10 reps through the day of each exercise. So say, in the morning, do 10 push-ups, then 10 sit-ups, then 10 squats. Maybe an hour later, do it again.
I would also advise you don’t do this everyday, even when you can manage to. Your body requires time to rest and recover. That’s where you actually develop strength, endurance, and heatlh. If you’re constantly tearing down your body without giving it some rest, you will stall your progress. Instead, I suggest you workout 3-4 days a week. I’ll say 3 for now, but do 4 if you are as ambitious as Saitama or Genos. If you feel the need to go for more, let me know how it goes… but I imagine that you’d quickly plateau.
NOTE: Skip running for now if you don’t like it, as running has been the number 1 exercise that steers a person away from fitness – anecdotal experience. We want to make sure you start small, but consistently! If you want to add a little running after your workout, don’t go crazy. Most of the benefits will come from the other exercises.
Here’s a sample of how this workout could look over a 3 week period.
A Sample Starter One Punch Man Workout
- Monday: 5×5 Push-ups, 5×10 Sit-ups, 5×5 Squats
- Wednesday: 5×6 Push-ups, 5×11 Sit-ups, 5×6 Squats
- Friday: 5×7 Push-ups, 5×12 Sit-ups, 5×7 Squats
- Monday: 5×8 Push-ups, 5×13 Sit-ups, 5×8 Squats
- Wednesday: 5×9 Push-ups, 5×14 Sit-ups, 5×9 Squats
- Friday: 5×10 Push-ups, 5×15 Sit-ups, 5×10 Squats
- Monday: 7×6 Push-ups, 7×10 Sit-ups, 7×8 Squats
- Wednesday: 7×7 Push-ups, 7×11 Sit-ups, 7×9 Squats
- Friday: 7×8 Push-ups, 7×12 Sit-ups, 7×10 Squats
The idea is, you want to stick to sets of 5 to 7 in the early stages. Increase your reps by 1 per set until you hit a plateau (meaning, your progress stalls). Then add more sets with less reps. So if you can’t hit 5×10 (5 sets of 10 reps, 50 reps total), next day, try 7×7 (7 sets of 7 reps, 49 reps total). This way, your reps is about the same, but you have them drawn out over a longer period of time, giving you time to recover.
But if you can hit 5×10, then you’d try 5×11 next workout. Make sense? Always use 5-sets as your benchmark! And whenever you feel like it, you can replace a workout day with a “test day”. Meaning, you try your hardest to make it to 100 of each exercise.
The Diet: What Should I Eat For This Workout?
Saitama only had one rule: don’t skip breakfast (and a banana in the morning is fine, too). But in reality, your results comes from your diet.
Lucky for you, this isn’t difficult. There’s 2 major necessities to develop your hero strength:
- More protein – at least .8g per pound of bodyweight. Feel free to do a little more or a little less, but know that you likely won’t need more than that.
- More vegetables – to make bowel movements easier, to balance your body’s PH, and to get some vitamins and minerals (though a good multivitamin like Rainbow Light’s Men’s One covers that). You should strive to eat some vegetables with your protein
I also have a simple guide for you: my Nomad Diet, a simple way to eat that gives you food flexibility, staying true to principles that work instead of bullshit.
Diet is a massive topic with a lot of emotion surrounding it, with a million different books and a million experts telling you they know what’s best. Do whatever you want as long as you get enough protein, and adjust accordingly. If you’re seeing results with whatever diet you’re on (meaning, you’re looker better, getting stronger, doing more reps, feeling less tired), then do whatever you want.
If you’re working out 3 days a week or more, I’d also supplement your diet with a scoop of protein powder sometime during the day (ideally post-workout). My two favorites are:
- Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard for the best cost-to-purity
- Dymatize XT line for one of my favorite flavors without being loaded with other macros (Syntha-6, while delicious, has less “pure” protein in the mixture).
I used a lot of words to describe a workout that was printed on a single page of a manga, but I wanted to make sure you saw the potential this workout has as a legitimate “General Physical Preparedness” (GPP) program, or as an intro to bodyweight strength training.
I hope this program helps you get excited to workout. And who knows, with enough training, you might become the next Saitama.
Thanks for reading everyone, and I hope this inspires you as much as it inspires me. Any questions or ideas, leave a comment below.