Following the recent post about 100 burpees a day for a year, I noticed several questions that asked how it was possible to recover from such frequent work. I wasn’t surprised to see such comments as they typically follow any post that highlights an approach that is either unusual or defies conventional wisdom. After all, it isn’t every day that we run across someone who has performed 100 burpees a day for an entire year.
As I think back throughout the blog’s history, there have been many stories that elicited similar reactions. For example, I vividly recall when Stefaan Engels first announced that he would run a marathon every day for an entire year. The reaction on Facebook was that the 49 year old man had lost his mind. The keyboard warriors boldly proclaimed that it was physically impossible.
A year later, the keyboard clan was nowhere to be found when Stefaan Engels was celebrating his 365th consecutive marathon.
Similar comments also came in when I highlighted the exercise streak of another 40+ year old woman. I first mentioned Tara Scott several years ago after she had exercised 700 consecutive days. At the time, I recall several comments from readers who concluded that she’d never be able to maintain such frequency without decline.
I updated her story in December to highlight seven consecutive years of exercise. She’s now 46 years old and has exercised for over 2700 consecutive days. Tara continues to thrive and is in better shape than most adults half her age. If you missed her update, you can see her in action here.
Find Out Yourself
And while I could certainly continue with examples, I am not writing this entry to suggest that you perform burpees each day or train for 7 years straight. As I’ve mentioned before, several factors must be considered whenever discussing frequency. The ideal training frequency naturally depends on the individual. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that should be forced to the masses.
Therefore, I honestly don’t know how much work you can handle each day. For instance, I don’t know how you will respond to 100 burpees each day. What I do know is that you shouldn’t jump to conclusions about things you haven’t tried. Far too many people err on the side of caution and never step outside their comfort zone. As soon as things get difficult, these people automatically assume that the work they are performing is excessive.
These individuals fail to comprehend the body’s capacity and potential to perform work. Hitting a bump in the road doesn’t always mean you need to turn around. If you ever wish to surpass the norm, you’ll probably need to ride out a few bumps and bruises along the way. The road to the top is rarely a straight line.
Whenever discussing frequency, I often think back to my early days in college. As a student, I worked construction on the side. My boss knew my position was temporary. I wasn’t going to continue after graduation. As a result, I was given all the jobs that no one else wanted. I dug holes, moved stones, worked the jackhammer, and swung a sledgehammer. I worked overtime all summer and took as many hours as I could during the school year. I didn’t get days off or periodize the time I spent working the 90 pound jackhammer. No one cared if I was tired or sore. There was a job to be done so that’s what I did.
When I first started the job, I remember walking into the boxing gym at night like a zombie. My body was worn out after laboring all day and now I had to train. For the first few weeks, I felt like my legs were stuck in the mud whenever I sparred. My trainer laughed about it. There was no sympathy. I had two options, either suck it up or get out of the gym.
Fortunately, I stuck it out. As the weeks passed, I began to adapt to the work and ultimately became stronger because of it. My perception about what the body could handle changed forever. One hundred burpees will take the average person 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Ten minutes of work is a walk in the park compared to a full day of physical labor under the hot sun.
And please note, I don’t say this to diminish the significance of performing 100 burpees a day. There is no denying that it is a tremendous accomplishment. When you look at the big picture however, you notice just how little time is required to perform such a task. Far more people are capable of such feats than most people will ever realize. Unfortunately, many never take the first step to find out. They’ve already been influenced by someone else who also hasn’t performed what he or she dismisses as impossible.
In summary, don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions about what you can or cannot do. No book or study has been written specifically for you. If you want to know what you can do, it is up to you to find out for yourself. Many of the best lessons I’ve ever learned in the gym came from trying things that wouldn’t make sense on paper. I had an idea so I took a chance. Not all of my ideas have panned out, but others allowed me to tap into strength that I wouldn’t have otherwise found.
“Conventional wisdom is no wisdom at all. Conventional wisdom is taking somebody else’s word for the way things are… It’s the followers of this world who rely on assumption. Not the leaders.” – Richard Marcinko