The 3000 push-ups challenge concept

In May 2019 during the dinner following our annual two-day Parkour Gathering and its physical challenge that included endless push-ups and partner carries, I ended up committing to another challenge. To do 3000 push-ups in a period of 6 hours!

The story begins a lot earlier when in 2010 and at a similar dinner between friends, someone asked Blane (aka Chris Rowat) if he would prefer to do 10,000 push-ups or 1000 Muscle-ups in 24 hours. Chris was pretty sure that only the Muscle Ups would be possible. One thing led to another and a few weeks later a group of people (mostly members of Parkour Generations: Chris ‘Blane’ Rowat, Stephane Vigroux, Dan Edwardes, Chris Keighley, Joe Boyle, Jun Suto, Andy Pearson, Bruno Peixoto) began their effort to perform 1000 Muscle-ups each in one day. The challenge has gone down in history as one of the most legendary challenges of our community (which was successfully completed by 4 people, among them Blane and in fact much faster than 24 hours)

And so we arrive in 2019, at the 7th Athens International Parkour Gathering and its own epic challenge. (Traditionally our gatherings end on the second day with one) So during the meal that followed to replenish our strength from the two days, and in a discussion about our challenge we ended up remembering the challenge of 1000 muscle-ups and I insisted that 10,000 push-ups would be easier. How wrong I was. (I would find out much later). My logic though, was based on 2 facts: 1) push-ups are much easier than muscle-ups overall – 10 times easier maybe? – and 2) if I can comfortably do 1000 push-ups in 1 hour and 30 minutes (a workout I had completed a few months earlier) surely someone out there could do 10 times more repetitions, but in over 15 times more time.

At the beginning, of course, the discussion was theoretical, I did not at all insist that I would necessarily be the one to carry it out, but that it was possible for strong people and easier than the muscle-ups challenge. Then Blane asked me if I was willing to do the corresponding bends in the 6-hour period (2500 push-ups) Hmm, I thought, if I know I can do 1000 in 90, it should be doable to do 3000 in 360 minutes, as that means another 2000 in over 4 hours.”Of course” I answer and because the goal is to prove that 10000 is possible in 24 hours and since the performance in such an effort would decrease dramatically over the hours, I will add another 500 push-ups in the 6 hours! So we shook hands and I promised to try the challenge within the next year.
The truth is that when I started doing the “maths” and the plan of the challenge, I realized that it would not be as easy as I initially thought. Also, it is not very easy to find a day where for 8 consecutive hours (calculating the necessary warm-up & recovery) you will do nothing but push-ups and then know that for at least 2 days your hands will be damaged. So now, with the COVI-19 quarantine and with my good friend Bill (aka Vassilis Tsirakis) agreeing to be there with me and participate, it was the right opportunity …

… In order to make 3000 push-ups in 360 minutes, one has to do an average of 8.4 push-ups every minute. So my plan was to start with a set of 9 reps, but with a break of 30” (about 1 set per 40”) for the first half-hour and then a set of 9 reps per minute for the next 2.5 hours. That way I would have completed about 1750 push-ups in 3 hours and there would be another 1250 left for the last 3 hours. (7 reps per minute) “Ok, maybe I have a chance in the end…”
In real life, things turned out to be a little different. All went according to plan for about 2.5 hours, when I decided to drop the repetitions to 8 per set. Theoretically, I was still in the game since in 3 hours I had made 1590 reps, but I had already dropped the repetitions even more, down to 7 per set. So I accepted the fact that the challenge of 3000 push-ups would fail, however, I decided to keep trying for the best. At the end of 6 hours and with a lot of pain I had completed 2528 push-ups.

2528 push-ups! That means that if I had kept my mouth shut and simply accepted to do the initial 2,500 push-ups that were equivalent to 6 hours, I would have succeeded! Right? Well, right, but still I wouldn’t have proven that 10000 can be done in 24 hours (by me or someone stronger than me)Of course, all these are of little importance since the numbers exist just for us to set limits and goals, possible ones or impossible. So what makes a challenge successful or not?

First, we need to figure out the definition and value of such a challenge. The most reasonable people will wonder why anyone would choose to put himself through such a painful process, which is doomed to fail from the start? The meaning of the challenge is to push us to discover our limits, mentally and physically, and once we reach them, to keep working so we are likely to overcome them. If when we start a challenge we know we will succeed, it is simply not a challenge. The same goes for any form of training. At first, a workout (eg 1 set of 20 abs) may seem very difficult to someone, but the more he repeats it, the better he will become through the effort, and after a number of workouts, the 20 abs will be easy. Then the 20 abs will not keep improving him, but maintain him at the level he reached. That’s why we need to change our training routines quite often and challenge ourselves.
Of course, challenges like the one I mentioned above are not to be done often or even to be repeated more than once. These challenges are about proving to ourselves what we are capable of accomplishing. If we are able to continue working while in physically and mentally hard situations. And of course, if you’re that type of guy or girl, despite the pain, the sweat and most likely the tears, it’s always a special experience and maybe even fun.

If I think about all these, about the challenge I talked to you about, maybe I could add that in the end #challengecompleted although failed and for the hashtag to be proven to be true here are some reasons that make the challenge a success to me.
In 6 hours I did not pause at all and at least 1 set per minute was performed. In fact, in 360 minutes, 366 sets were made.

  • I wanted to and I am sure I succeeded in keeping the quality of my push-ups from the 1st to the 2528th repetition. Quality over Quantity (even in such a challenge with an absurd number of repetitions)
  • With a difference of maybe a few repetitions I really did as many push-ups as I could do in the time limit.
  • I persuaded my mind and body to continue until the end, despite the pain, the endless hours and while I knew after a while that I would not reach the original goal.
  • I did 2528 push-ups 😀

Parkour is a sport – a way of life – an art, that contains the concept of a challenge at its core like anything else. But whether a Traceur (Parkour Athlete) or not, the only way to improve in any area of life is to challenge ourselves. And if sometimes these challenges seem impossible or unreasonable even better!
“If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do.” Michael Phelps

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©World of Parkour 2020

Panos Toge Almanlis
In 2000 I had my first martial arts lesson, since then I have not stopped sweating.... In 2002 I became an instructor and started teaching young kids. In 2003 I joined the greek special forces as sergeant raider parachuter and in 2005 I received my Black belt award in Karate and Kick Boxing. In December 2007 I moved to London to train and continue my martial arts journey. This is where I got introduced to the discipline of Parkour and Free Running, the life art, as I like to call it. My target is to keep extending my limits and improving till life gets bored of me.

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