One Punch Man has gone from a jibe at Japan’s manga clichés to one of the most popular cartoons of the last couple of years. For those of you that don’t know, One Punch Man follows the exploits of Saitama; a hero who is so unbelievably strong that he defeats every enemy with a single punch – hence one punch man. A rather unassuming protagonist, Saitama laments the ease with which he can defeat his foes – he longs for a challenging fight.
Saitama was created as a joke. The almost bored way with which he approaches enemies and his absurd ability to walk through dangerous situations with being hurt is a parody of some of the tropes of manga comics – unrealistic invincibility, absurdly strong heroes, and so on.
Because of Saitama’s incredible strength, some of his companions – and enemies – were keen to learn his workout routine. Another trope in manga is that heroes and villains will have ridiculously complicated training regimens. So it wasn’t surprising to find out that the One Punch Man’s training routine was as simple and unpretentious as his character.
So what is Saitama’s workout routine?
How can you train like the One Punch Man?
Let’s go through Saitama’s workout and explore its benefits and limitations.
The One Punch Man workout routine
In an early episode of the series, Saitama reveals the training that transformed him from a regular guy to a hero who can easily defeat the most terrifying enemies Japan has to offer.
Here is the One Punch Man’s workout:
- 100 pushups
- 100 situps
- 100 bodyweight squats
- Run 10km
Repeat 7 days a week.
The entire One Punch Man exercise regimen – the entire Saitama training routine – consists of 100 pushups, 100 situps, 100 squats, plus a 10km run.
Now obviously, this routine was supposed to be a joke. It was created to ridicule the workouts followed by other manga heroes; running up and down mountains, punching waterfalls, lifting absurdly heavy objects above their heads, you know the clichés.
When Saitama tells people his workout routine, they are rightly both surprised and disappointed. You are not going to turn into a One Punch Man by following this workout.
Clearly, Saitama’s secret has nothing to do with his training. He was just born incredibly strong, much to the dismay of his admirers.
But just because the One Punch Man workout was designed as a joke doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its benefits.
Benefits of Saitama’s workout
Although the One Punch Man workout routine was created as a joke, there are far worse fitness icons to have than Saitama. Following Saitama’s daily workout routine will definitely whip you into better shape than you are in today, and it has many benefits over more traditional gym-based workouts.
So what are the benefits of training like Saitama, the One Punch Man?
Unlike the typical manga hero workouts, Saitama’s routine actually resembles the kind of resistance training followed by fighters.
You will find that boxers, MMA fighters, and martial artists follow training routines very similar to Saitama’s, just with a lot of technique work and much more cardio thrown in on top (Mike Tyson used to run 10km first thing in the morning before even starting his real cardio work in the ring).
This is because the kind of strength fighters need to develop is best obtained through high-repetition bodyweight workouts – pushups, bodyweight squats, and pullups. Being able to bench 160kg is certainly very cool and a significant achievement, but it doesn’t necessarily help you in a fight.
Punching power comes from both an ability to unleash explosive full body power and mastery of technique. So pushups performed explosively is more conducive to building punching power than bench presses done in standard bodybuilding fashion, with controlled reps and maximum time under tension. Similarly, high repetition bodyweight squats are more useful for developing speed and explosive power than squatting 70% of your 1 rep max for 3 sets of 10.
That is not to say that the One Punch Man wouldn’t benefit from developing some explosive strength through heavy, single-rep bench presses. I’m also not claiming that weighted squats don’t develop explosive strength or the total power you can unleash from your legs (which is where all the power in a punch ultimately originates).
What I am saying is that high repetition bodyweight workouts, done in explosive fashion, are optimal for developing the kind of strength you need to fight effectively. In other words, this is the kind of workout that you might follow in real life to achieve similar fighting prowess to the One Punch Man.
Look at any current MMA fighter’s workout routine and you will very rarely see much in the way of weighted resistance training. Almost of the resistance training they do is bodyweight stuff. Of that, the vast majority is focused on the core (crunches, twists, planks, etc.) and the legs (bodyweight squats, jumps, uphill sprints, resistance bike, etc.). The top fighting coaches don’t put their athletes through these workouts because they enjoy them; they do it because it turns them into fighting machines. If they were better off doing a typical bodybuilding routine, they’d be doing them!
Another major benefit of Saitama’s training routine is that it gets you doing a substantial amount of cardio each and every day.
One of the major flaws of fighting-specific training routines posted online is the paltry amount of cardio they prescribe. Because the routines are aimed at people with no fighting experience – who usually want to train to “look” like a fighter – they leave out the most important aspect of training for fighting: cardio.
Cardio is the cornerstone of every fighter’s daily training regimen. Take a look at the training routine of every successful boxer or MMA fighter and you’ll see that cardio takes up by far the most time in any given day. A professional boxer, for example, will do lots of boxing-specific technique work every day, but they will do hours of cardio per day. Running, skipping, circuits, and bag work all get done every day.
Real warriors like Saitama prioritise cardio for a number of reasons. For one thing, it gives you the stamina you need to actually stay in a fight for longer than a few seconds. Throwing kicks and punches – even one very hard punch – is incredibly taxing on the cardiovascular system. Few people can manage more than a 2 minute round if properly punching a heavy bag. It takes years of building up your cardio to even attempt the kind of training done by professional fighters, let alone to actually get through a 12 round fight!
Another benefit that comes from prioritising cardio is that it improves every other aspect of your training. Saitama would find that 100 pushups and 100 situps became easier and easier the more he improved his stamina. Running reduces recovery time and promotes physical efficiency, making you better at training.
General health and well-being
For those of you who aren’t looking to become a One Punch Man like Saitama, the One Punch Man workout would still be highly beneficial.
One of the biggest benefits Saitama’s workout has over other popular workout routines is that it promotes general good health, mobility, muscular endurance, and joint health.
Most people today tend to focus on heavy weight training – this is certainly true of most men in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. While this is the best way to develop big, full muscles and a powerful-looking physique, it isn’t necessarily the most beneficial way to train for health and functionality.
Lifting heavy weights on a regular basis puts tremendous strain on the joints and connective tissues. You only need to look at bodybuilders and weightlifters who pushed their bodies to the limit to see the damage that regular heavy weight training can do (Ronnie Coleman is a prime example of how damaging heavy compound lifts can be over many years of training).
Sticking to high-rep bodyweight training spares your joints and connective tissues. You train the muscle without putting excessively heavy loads on your ligaments. The risk of injury is substantially lower, and you are far less likely to experience rheumatoid arthritis from lighter but higher-rep training like that prescribed by the One Punch Man.
Finally, there’s the cardiovascular element to the One Punch Man training routine. Saitama does a lot of repetitions, most likely in quick succession. In doing sol he is not only putting stress on his muscles, but also on his cardiovascular system. Working out this way will simultaneously boost stamina as well as strength and muscular endurance. This isn’t something you can say about traditional bodybuilding workouts!
Pros of the One Punch Man workout:
- Builds muscular endurance and stamina simultaneously
- Spares the joints and connective tissues
- Is well-balanced, working the upper body, core and legs
- Heavy emphasis on cardio, which is vital for effective fighting
- Can easily be done either explosively or with emphasis on time under tension, or both
- Sensible workout volume means you have time to recover and repeat the workout daily
Cons of the One Punch Man workout:
- Unlikely to turn you into Saitama
- No heavy explosive element
- No back work – would benefit massively from some pullups
Would I recommend the One Punch Man workout?
That depends entirely on your goals and current level of fitness.
If you want to train in a way that maximizes strength, muscular endurance, and stamina, then Saitama’s workout routine is probably a great option for you. If you have a low level of strength and fitness, then working up to Saitama’s workout is a good goal. Once you’re able to do the full workout every day, you can introduce harder exercise variations, start focusing on explosiveness or tie under tension, and increase the reps.
However, if you have some experience training with weights and you want to train for maximum strength, muscle size, or power, this is not the workout for you. To increase muscle size you need to be constantly putting your muscles under an increasing amount of strain. This is the concept of progressive overload, and it is the only way to produce adaptations, i.e. muscle growth.
Whether or not the One Punch Man training routine is right for you depends on what you want to achieve. That said, we think everyone would benefit from implementing Saitama’s workout – or elements of it – into their daily routines. That’s because everyone could do with more muscular endurance and stamina.
Eating to recover form Saitama’s workout
So you’ve decided to take on the One Punch Man workout.
How can you maximize recovery to be sure you make maximum gains from the workout?
The first thing to make sure you’re on top of is your sleep. You repair tissue while you sleep, not while you’re training. So if you aren’t sleeping properly, then all you are doing is tearing down muscle tissue and not letting it be repaired.
Get 8 hours sleep every single night, and make sure you’re in bed by 11pm to maximize growth hormone release.
After sleep, your diet is the next biggest determinant of recovery.
To optimize recovery from One Punch Man training, try to eat:
- Plenty of complex carbs (e.g. sweet potatoes, oats, and whole grain bread)
- Lots of lean protein (e.g. legumes, nuts, fish, and tofu)
- Large amounts of fresh vegetables (e.g. leafy greens, sweet peppers, broccoli and tomatoes)
A diet rich in these foods will keep you energetic, healthy, and optimized for recovery.
While most diet advice you find online stresses the importance of protein, I don’t think it is all that important. You do need protein to create new muscle tissue, but it is not even the primary constituent of muscle tissue (water is). In fact, protein only makes up 20% of your muscle fibers (10% is fat and 70% is water).
Protein is also the most ubiquitous nutrient – most foods contain some protein, and protein deficiency is only ever really seen in people who are literally starving. If you are eating a varied diet, then you are almost definitely getting enough protein to grow new muscle tissue.
So protein is rarely ever a limiting factor for recovery.
More important are carbohydrates and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
A diet low in complex carbohydrates is not a diet conducive to muscle growth or recovery. You need energy to train and you need calories to recover – complex carbohydrates are the best source of both of these things.
Micronutrients are needed for everything from energy metabolism to testosterone synthesis. If you are skipping leafy green vegetables and beans, then you are probably going to wind up deficient in key vitamins and minerals, and by extension, low on energy and testosterone.
Saitama’s One Punch Man workout is probably one of the least intensive in all of manga.
However, unlike other manga hero workouts, Saitama’s is both realistic and actually conducive to fighting.
Warriors in comic books and movies always seem to do incredible feats of strength as part of their training.
In reality, warriors follow workouts that are repetitive, even boring. The workout that Saitama follows every day is not the reason why he is able to knock out enemies with one punch. He was obviously born with special abilities that make him the One Punch Man. But his workout is great for building strength and muscular endurance, developing explosive power, increasing stamina, improving cardiovascular health, and losing body fat.
I think anybody would benefit from doing the One Punch Man workout for a good few weeks, or at leas doing it a couple of times a week in conjunction with your regular training routine.
Is the One Punch Man workout possible?
Of course it is possible! One of the main benefits of the One Punch Man workout is that it is so easy for most people to implement right away. Even if you cannot yet manage to do 100 pushups, 100situps and 100 squats every day – on top of a 10km run – you can do some of this workout and slowly work your way up to Saitama’s full training routine.
What happens when you do the One Punch Man workout?
Doing the One Punch Man workout on a daily basis will unquestionably change your physique and your health for the better. Although it might not be optimal for athletic performance in very specific sports like powerlifting, sprinting or bodybuilding, it is a very well-balanced, rounded training routine that will build stamina, strength, muscular endurance, and help with fat loss. Saitama’s training has the benefits of improving both endurance and explosive strength at the same time.
Is it OK to do situps every day?
Yes it is OK to do situps every day! In fact, I’d go as far as to recommend that you do situps every day if you can. The core muscles are used pretty much all the time, either directly or when providing stability. You therefore aren’t going to stress your core muscles doing a few sets once per week in the gym. To stimulate growth of the abs and the surrounding muscles, you need to hit them as often as possible. Doing situps every day will really help develop your abs and your entire core.
How long did Saitama train?
Saitama claims that it took him three years of training to achieve the strength and power that we associate with the One Punch Man. Obviously the One Punch Man workout listed above is not going to turn you into a superhero in three years (or ever for that matter), but you can see improvements in physique, stamina and muscle endurance in much less time than 3 years.