Pushup Challenge

Stupid is as stupid does.

Recently I saw THIS BLOG entry about a pushup contest. Net of it is you start with one pushup in a day, then double it every day until the contest ends. Now, being an idiot with friends who love to make stupid bets, this seemed like a perfect challenge for us to undertake during the holidays. But first a little background on the combatants.

My first challenge was to my friend D, who lives in Austin with me from where the challenge eminated. Note that 512 is the area code down here, and a power of 2, meaning one day we’d be doing 512 pushups. Figuring this was a worthy challenge, I threw down the gauntlet to D who never has met a challenge too stupid for him. Case in point: one day D helped me pick up my car from the shop. We stopped for a few beers on the way home, and next thing you know we’re playing cornhole H-O-R-S-E for punishments. So if you saw me slapping him as hard as I could in my driveway, or him throwing cornbags at me as I rode on a 5 year old’s bike wearing a girl’s bike helmet, that’s what we were doing.

Anyway, we quickly decided we needed to involve eight other friends of ours from across the nation, and set up what has to be the most entertaining GroupMe session ever created to track progress on the challenge. Like most men, the mere suggestion of a stupid bet that involves some sort of physical challenge and/or test of will is what we live for. So it was on.

My wife immediately told me how stupid I was, and how stupid the bet was. She decried the physical benefit of doing so many pushups in a day, instead suggesting a regiment that actually builds strength and conditioning (in other words, she completely missed the point). Yet after a few drinks one night, she was convinced to participate.

Note that we didn’t plan this thing all that well, or we planned it excellently. I’m still not sure which. The first ugly day, 256, was Christmas Eve, and what we thought would be the penultimate day, 512, was Christmas. As I was hosting both days, this presented a particular challenge. Note starting with 1, 2, 4, 8, etc. is a great way of building excitement about the bet. There was a lot of talk about secret strategies, spreadsheets were actually created to map out when to do the pushups on which day, and the smak started flowing. By the 16 day, I felt the need for strategy- don’t do them all in one set so as to preserve the body. In the end, none of that really mattered.

128 is a good amount of pushups to do in a day, especially if you break them into non-taxing sets of 8. We didn’t lose anyone through 256, although my wife had to do all 256 after 8 PM having skipped them all day readying for Christmas. This killed her will to go for 512, and she dropped out before trying (note she was one of the favorites in the competition because of her insane physical condition). S also dropped out after 256, as he got sick (he was also one of the favorites), leaving 6 of us to do 512 pushups on Christmas. Basically, my strategy was to do 12 every time I could, which meant as the kids opened presents, I’d be snapping off sets. Good times.

It felt pretty good to get through the 512, but there was a problem – all 6 of us made it through that day. B almost failed, but to his credit, after doing 0 all day and coming home drunk, he rattled off 512 pushups in an impressive 3-hour pushing binge that absolutely destroyed him. So we had to do 1024 Monday. One thousand pushups in a day, after doing 512 the previous. I did not sleep well Sunday night.

We lost B because he destroyed himself on Christmas, and G was out because he was driving 1000 miles with the family. So it was down to four. And there was no way any of us were going to fail.

I get up at 1 Am and break off 108 pushups. 10% clear. Only 916 to go. Woo. Back up with the kids at 6:30 and start breaking them off, and I suddenly realize that any attempt I had at a strategy and keeping my body from being sore was completely out the window. I push toward milestones. 20%, 25%, 30%, 33%, 40%… finally hitting 400+ pushups at around noon (while still spending quality time with the family). It is here that I realize I’m a broken man. My triceps are shredded, my chest is stiff and immobile. Just starting a set is awful. Sets of 10 are in order, as 10 is all I can do. Sometimes they are sets of 8. I push my way to 550 (had to surpass 512) and I’m questioning my ability to finish. I have a family dinner, and I can’t do more or go faster.

Then, Vitamin I comes to the rescue.

I wanted to do it “drug free” but that was impossible at this point. 3 Extra Strength Advil later, and suddenly I’ve got new blood. 600 becomes 750 (doing them in the parking lot a the bank waiting for the ATM). 750 becomes 900. 900 becomes 925. I’m within 100 and I’m ready to get there. Sets of 12 are back in play. I make a big push and do my final 8 right as we are about to depart for dinner.

1024 pushups in a day. Celebratory picture of me Tebowing is sent to the crowd.

Now N and W have long since finished, with not nearly as much difficulty. D has been notably silent. He’s way behind. After dinner, my wife and I stop by and help him get through his last 100. 4 of us do 1024 pushups. And the contest is unofficially over.

Technically the tiebreaker was most pushups on a failed day. We knew nobody was doing 2048, N and W had to work, so we pretty much ended the contest. D was still doing pushups in the background, in case someone else was still going to try to win. Final day tally: D 435, W 0, N 0, me 0. Which is a hilarious ending to this and why D is awesome.

My new years resolution is now to do 125 consecutive pushups. One of the pushup apps I downloaded to track my progress has a training regiment built into it that will get me there. Yes, I downloaded multiple apps to help me get through this – such is the life of an idiot nerd in the age of the smartphone.

Two days later, I’m still quite sore. You may not realize this until you do 1000 pushups in a day, but pushups are great exercise for your biceps, triceps, pecs, lats, shoulders, upper back, lower back, and abdominals. I know this because all of those muscle groups have been quite unusable for some time.


3 responses to “Pushup Challenge

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