Almost every day I field questions on health and fitness, and I’ve come to realize that 95 percent of them follow the same format. They always state the desired goal, followed by the word “but” and a limiting excuse.
“Hey, I want to get in shape, but I don’t live by any gyms.”
“I would like to burn fat, but I don’t know where to start.”
“I want to add muscle, but I’m always traveling.”
Since I don’t have the time or the inclination to play Dr. Phil and deal with people’s excuses, I now just offer a simple challenge. I show them a picture of Herschel Walker. Then I tell them that if they can do half as well as he does, they can get in great shape without fancy diets or expensive equipment.
Readily, they agree. At least until I reveal the plan.
If you need to shake up your current fitness routine, I invite you to try the “Half As Good As Herschel Walker” Workout Challenge.
Wait, Who Is This Guy?
A quick bio for the under 30-crowd: Herschel Walker played running back at the University of Georgia, where he was a three-time All-American and the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner. He then played 16 seasons of professional football, the first three in the USFL. He competed in the 1992 Olympics—as a bobsledder. Now in his 50’s, he’s competing in (and winning) mixed martial arts contests against guys half his age.
More than his accomplishments, Walker’s unique training and diet regimen separate him from the pack. He’s famous for eating just one meal a day. And ever since he was a kid, he’s done upwards of 1,000 Push-Ups daily, plus a host of other bodyweight exercises and plenty of sprints.
Don’t worry. I don’t expect you to do all that. That would be insane, right? All I ask is that you just be half as good as Herschel.
This is a simple workout. You don’t need equipment or special supplements. You just need grit.
Instead of 1,000 Push-Ups a day, you’re going to do 500. Instead of one meal per day, you get two.
Walker estimates he ran half a million yards of sprints every year when he was growing up. That’s roughly 1,000 yards a day. So you’ve got to do 500 yards of sprints each and every day. That’s five 100-yard sprints (the length of a football field x 5) or 10 50-yard sprints.
Break it up any way you want. Sit in your room and knock out all 500 Push-Ups in one workout. Or do them in batches throughout the day until you reach 500.
Two meals per day. I don’t care when you eat. I don’t care what you eat. But you only get two meals. No snacks. No shakes. No excuses.
At the risk of complicating an otherwise simple program, allow me to add a few notes:
- Full-blown sprints are risky if you haven’t been actively sprinting. I recommend you run sprints at 75 percent of your top speed for the first couple of weeks to let your body adapt. Then bump it up to 85 to 90 percent of your top speed. There’s no reason to run all out at 100 percent.
- Although you can “get away with” two meals consisting of nothing but junk food and still lean up with this plan, you’ll feel better if you stick with whole foods. Don’t worry about macronutrients or counting carbs. Just eat whole foods and you’ll do fine.
- You may want to vary your style on the Push-Ups to save your elbows and shoulders. Do a few sets with your hands close, a few with wide hand placement and maybe some Incline Push-Ups every once in awhile to stave off boredom.
- Walker trains every single day, but we mortals can take one day off per week.
In 30 days, you’ll be stronger, leaner, fitter—and best of all, tougher. When the going gets tough, just remember one thing: somewhere, a 51-year-old-man named Herschel is doing twice as much as you are.
Todd, Terry. “My Body’s Like An Army,” Sports Illustrated, October 4, 1982.