Fresh off the challenge of doing 300 pushups every day for a month, YouTuber Jose Zuniga set himself an even more physically demanding task to push his discipline and endurance during quarantine: 5,000 pullups in 30 days. That’s 168 reps every single day.
Zuniga breaks that number down into three sessions: 56 in the morning, 56 at midday, and 56 at night. But by Day 2, he’s already in pain. “Out the gate, my lats are extra swollen right now, they’re super tight,” he says. “Not to mention my hands are super tender, I’m pretty sure I’m going to tear them in 30 days.”
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After a week, the soreness in his lats is no better; he compares the feeling to being punched in the same muscle with every rep. By Day 10, however, he’s more used to the repetitive pattern, and is honing his technique, hitting that full range of motion with every pullup (although his hands are definitely a mess, as predicted).
“The great thing with full range of motion is you’re disengaging the muscle, especially the lats,” he says. “Most people do quarter reps, which is what I was doing for the first 10 [days], just to get my body accustomed to the volume that I was going to be doing every day. I started doing full range of motion to overload my muscles, make it more difficult, and I can feel it, definitely… the pump is real.”
On Day 20, to make the reps even more difficult, he brings the tempo of his daily workouts way down for the final 10 days of the challenge, challenging his muscles by doing slower, more controlled versions of the reps. With each rep now being harder, instead of maxing out, he breaks the workouts down into smaller sets of 3 to 5, allowing himself short rests in between.
By Day 30, Zuniga has overshot his target and completed 5,046 pullup reps in a month, with demonstrable results: he’s put on mass in his back and shoulders, with the most visible growth in his lats. And while he’s pleased with those gains, he also calls the experience “humbling,” adding that even by the end of the 30 days, those slowed-down, full-motion reps still absolutely blasted his muscles.
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