Photo gallery for this series

(Part 1 of 36 in ~ 10,000 Reps Project)

This post presents a gallery of ALL images in this series. You can click on any to enlarge; you can even click on the first, sit back, and it’ll run them all as a slide show. The gallery is dynamic so it will automatically grow as I add more posts to this series.

10,000 repetitions

(Part 2 of 36 in ~ 10,000 Reps Project)

Today (Friday, Sept 25) was day number 66, and without realizing it, I did pushup number 999.

Way back in June, I read about someone who was going to “celebrate” their 30th birthday with a year-long challenge: They were going to try to complete 30,000 pushups in one year.

That would be 82.19 pushups per day, every day. (81.97 if it’s a leap year.) That’s crazy. That’s crazy like repetitive-stress-injury crazy. Especially since their point was that they were out of shape and wanted to get into shape.

Celebrate: n., to torture oneself?

I chuckled, and sipped my coffee. But the wheels were turning. With my 44th birthday approaching, I briefly considered 44,000 as a goal. Briefly. Very briefly. But then I was thinking: …well, I can do 10 pushups, easy. So doing just 30 per day wouldn’t be too crazy, and that should get me to about 10,000 in a year. (Calculator’ing happens.) Actually, about 27 pushups per day would get me to a nice round 10k in a year.

And over the next few weeks the idea grew.

It seemed clear that completing 10,000 pushups would be eminently possible without injury. Maybe I should try doing 10,000 repetitions of something I currently suck at? That would force me to get from “I can do zero of these,” to a competent 30-or-so per day. This started to sound more interesting and useful. It would be like a race, but a long-term race with me pitted against the calendar.

(It also fits very well with my Oath.)

Eventually I settled on five exercises which would be a serious challenge, AND would yield major improvements:

1. pushups
2. squats
3. pullups
4. bar-to-bar precisions
5. handstands (10k seconds in a handstand)

I’m not going to describe the exercises in detail. I’m not going to brag about how great I’ve gotten at them. (Which is, “not very.” But I’m still working on them.)

I decided up front that I would do whatever it took to reach the goal. To me, that means, doing enough to get stronger, but not hurting myself. It means continuously thinking about the form of the exercise and striving to do them well. But I do NOT fixate on perfection. Build it. Refine it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

What I really want to share is HOW MUCH FUN THIS IS!

Every time I do one of the exercises I am acutely aware of how much I’ve improved. Early on, I had little variations to everything to make it possible; I’d do 3 crappy, negative versions of a pull-up (climb up, and fight the fall for as long as possible) and happily mark “3” completed in my spreadsheet. Now I do sets of three reasonably good pull-ups and I think, “boo-YEAH! Pull-ups! Who’s ‘da man?!” I can’t wait to see what it’s like to crank out a clean set of 10 in a row.

Did you say spreadsheet?

Yes I did. Of course I went to the trouble of making a full-geek spreadsheet. It has a row for all 365 days. I enter the reps completed and it has columns for the cumulative number completed, the number remaining to reach the goal, and it does the math to tell me the rate-per-day that I’d have to continue at to reach the goal. (So if I do 10 pull-ups and it says the required rate is 27 per day, I know I’m digging a hole. If I do 40 pushups and it says the rate is 30, I know I just banked 10 for a day off.)

Well, here’s what day 66 looks like. I entered 42 under pushups and 999 popped out. What a neat surprise! :D



Winter is coming

(Part 3 of 36 in ~ 10,000 Reps Project)

Thousands of reps to go, and winter is coming. Closer to the house to minimize snow/ice… my “10k in a year” project is getting more challenging as temps drop. At least we have lights on the patio for when I run out of daylight. #crazyinagoodway

1,000 pull-ups and renewed motivation

(Part 4 of 36 in ~ 10,000 Reps Project)

On Saturday, Nov 7 I rolled past 1,000 pull-ups! …but I’m actually falling behind on the overall pace needed to reach my 10k goal. It’s time to find some renewed motivation.

A few months ago, I was working with a friend on a planned exercise program. He had me planning workouts targeting specific times in heart rate zones, running and other activities. After about a year, we felt we no longer needed to check in regularly, and we went our separate ways. (No bad blood, just moving along our separate orbits.)

That was a mistake. It turns out that I didn’t realize how critical the accountability aspect of working with him was. So training on my own, I slowly drifted from “diligent”, to “sporadic”, to “uh oh…”.

A few aspects of my physical activities started slipping; most notably my progress on my 10k project. For a few weeks after I realized this was happening, I tried to re-energize myself. But it just wasn’t happening.

I’m a big believer in explicit goals and tracking progress. But motivation is the key. I have to find something that motivates me – a project, goal, challenge, location, anything – and run with that until it loses it’s luster. Then I find something new to motivate me. So while the goals and tracking are long(-ish) term, the motivation can be anything that works in the short term.

I recently reached out to another friend about working together as “accountability” partners. We started by meeting for lunch. He’s not a Parkour guy (neither was Mike who I was working with before), he’s a martial artist and is knowledgable about weight lifting. As a bonus, he’s recently been on a “body weight exercises” bender, which makes a lot of what we’re doing for training pretty similar. We had a long, animated lunch discussing everything from exercise specifics, to Parkour, to weight lifting. I left lunch highly motivated and with a pile of new ideas.

So three new things…

1. I’ll be starting each week by communicating my plan to my partner. This requires me to actually sit down and make a plan.

2. On each day that I have a planned workout/activity/whatever, I check in with a brief post-activity status report. This adds a bit of cost/guilt to get me going. We also discussed that this could be later expanded to have some sort of actual cost for failure — a physical penalty, or even a cash fine. (We’re reciprocal accountability partners so he’s also checking in with me on his plans.) But for now we’re going with simply communicating.

3. I’m starting a 12-day, designed pull-ups program. In my 10k project, pull-ups are the weakest activity, so I particularly need to build up strength here before I can go on piling on numbers to reach the goal.

Plan, Measure, Suceed?

(Part 5 of 36 in ~ 10,000 Reps Project)

Heading into the holiday season usually means falling off the “activity” wagon in addition to over-eating. Since I’m deep into my 10k project, I’ve been working with my accountability partner ( Hi Clif! :) to map out my training goals. So the idea is to have a plan of exactly what I’m supposed to do on which days. (Plus the other regular stuff I’m doing well with as general habits — parkour class on Sundays, Tracy and I running Tuesday/Thursdays, walking regularly, etc.)

So here’s a glimpse behind the curtain and what happens at my desk nearly every day to keep the planning on track. Here’s my most recent message to Clif where I’m checking in. Below, if you care, I’ll explain a bit more about what’s going on here:

did today’s 10k stuff; no problem
tomorrow is another set of 10k stuff (with a trivial bump of +10 bar precisions) AND the pullup assessment
saturday very busy, heading into Brooklyn and no idea what sunday holds
but sun/mon are planned-clear so I’ll still be on track
still have to decide what I’m doing with pullups starting next week…
I have “50” pencilled in under pullups, and then a regular +5 increase just to see how it plays out for catching up the pullup numbers:

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 11.31.29 AM

…so there’s a lot happening.

  • “10k stuff” refers to the set of 5 exercises (pushups, pullups, body-weight squats, seconds-in-handstand and bar-to-bar precisions) that I’m attempting to do 10,000 repetitions of within one year.
  • Rows in the spreadsheet are days. Today was day 129, Friday Nov 27, so that row has “actually did” numbers.
  • Weeks start on Mondays. This week has yellow cells on Saturday — that’s “planned” repetitions — and zeros on the cells where I have a day off.
  • Daily is the number of reps, Total is the running total number since day one, Remaining is the spreadsheet subtracting from 10,000, and Rate is the spreadsheet computing how many reps I would have to do EVERY SINGLE DAY to the end of the 365 days to make it to 10k.
  • RATE is like the ticking clock of death. If that number is creeping UP, things will get harder and harder as I dig a hole of reps that I have to finish in a sprint. Bear in mind that if I injur or overwork some part of me, then I have to take a rest, and the rate just keeps tic tic ticking upward.
  • Next week – days 132-138 are sketched out tentatively. When I report in to Clif with an actual plan, the cells will be “locked in” colored yelllow.
  • This week (that I’m finishing) and next week are odd: I’m jiggering the reps to pull four of the exercises to matching total counts on Monday, day 139. I’ve been tinkering for weeks so that they all align AND pass over 2,000 reps in the same workout. Just a fun short-term motivational thing.That’s why tomorrow, bar pre’s goes up to 70 and then down to 40 next week.
  • Pullups are my weakest activity. For the last 24 days, I’ve run twice through a 12-day “pullup increase program”. I started with a max possible of 3 [crappy] pullups, and now I’m up to 5 easy, clean pullups, with a 6th and 7th available to max out. So you can see the problem: The “rate” under pullups says about 38, meaning I have to about 80 pullups every other day to make the pace. But if I can only do little sets of 3 or 4, then doing 80 takes like an hour. So I’ve been focusing on the pullup program so I can get up to some real rep numbers. (Every pullup that I do as part of the program I mark down though.) Saturday (tomorrow!) is the assessment day at the end of the second cycle through the pullup program. When I see what I have for a number, I’ll decide if I’m going to just go back to doing small-number sets (what the spreadsheet has pencilled in as 50, 55, 60 etc) or if I’m running the pullup program a third time.

500 pullups behind

(Part 6 of 36 in ~ 10,000 Reps Project)

As my 10k project plods onward, I’m making good progress. With some renewed motivation to keep knocking out the numbers, I’ve been making a weekly plan and sticking to it for several weeks now. (A big thank you goes out to my “accountability partner”, Clif!)


Through November 22 (day 124 of the year-long challenge) I’ve been doing various numbers of exercises. In particular, I’ve recently been doing a “pull-ups program” designed to get me from being able to only do 2 or 3 lousy pullups, to being able to do a few sets.

The orange cells show [what I call] the “odometer problem”: pushups and squats are close in the 1800 range, but pullups are way behind, with handstand-seconds and bar-to-bar precisions adrift in the midlands. Green cells remind me where I’m changing numbers, and yellow cells are planned; That’s the number of reps I should do — so this screenshot is from before December 3rd.

For the last week of November and the first week of December I’m focusing on brining four of the activities into line. Low reps of pushups, easy squat numbers, and a load of bar pre’s. On Monday the 7th, the blue cells show the four coming together. And, after a bit of fiddling, they will also all pass over the 2,000 reps count in the same workout. (Yeah short term goals! :)

That leaves pullups (the red cell) a wopping 500 reps behind the other four. Going forward from the 7th, I’ll keep the other four activities in lock-step and work as hard as I can (without injuring myself) to crank on that pullups number. If I get the math right, I think I can make all five activities come together AND pass 3,000 in a workout near the end of January.

Sunday’s workout report

(Part 7 of 36 in ~ 10,000 Reps Project)

long day yesterday, lots of bus riding and walking around nyc, and a short but intense parkour class with lots of arm work. So last night I was sore, tired and exhausted. Slowly warmed up all morning in front of the fire and managed to get outside, warmup and actually get through my workout. My left achilles tendon is sore so it took a lot of moving and warming up to get the bar pre’s feeling good. Probably the cleanest (<< nicest landings, most controlled, most ‘stuck’ landings) set of 70 I’ve ever done. boo-YEAH! It’s a schmeazly small workout in the grand scheme, but it was a MAJOR mental win today. Perfectly on-plan for the past week.

Here’s the coming week…

Monday will be tough; class this afternoon and it’s a back-to-back workout. But I don’t want to delay it to tuesday when I plan to run. So, Monday it is. It will be a delight to lower bar pre’s DOWN to 40 reps. Few more pushups just for round numbers and I’ll start ramping pullups.

Which by the way, pullups are paying off in parkour. I have a little video clip of finger tips on an I beam flange pullup-tuck thing that I discovered I can now do. I happen to recall how inconceivable that move seemed when I saw it years ago.

This week I’ll add 5 pullups. I was doing 8×5, I’ll either to 9×5 or go to some sets of six just to get it done faster. My tentative idea is to add 5 reps every fourth workout… that should be easy since it’s only a 10% addition. I hope :) At that add-on rate, pullups will catch up in mid/late January. I’ll then assess if I can go to 50, 60 or more reps across the board on all the activities. With things at “40s” while I’m catching-up pullups I’m continuing to dig an over-all rep-count hole.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 12.28.16 PM


(Part 8 of 36 in ~ 10,000 Reps Project)

Today’s checkin for the 10k project. It will now be a long road to 3,000… so I suspect it will be a while before there’s anything interesting to report.

pushups, pullups, squats and handstand-seconds just passed 2,000 reps !
This is the first day I’ve ever done more pullups than any other activity !!
(granted all the other activities were way too easy ;)

Today’s workout is completely as planned. WOOT!
Did excellent for being tired from a good 2hr parkour workout yesterday that involved pushups and handstands…
(Thanks Adam :P

I did pushups, squats and precisions in 5×8 sets, and 2×25 handstands — all super easy.
and the 9×5 pullups were all emminently doable
I’ll see how I feel on Wednesday morning: Since this is now a numbers race about pullups, I may stick with sets of 5 pullups, and just add an extra set more often than every fourth workout.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 12.00.02 PM

One step at a time

(Part 9 of 36 in ~ 10,000 Reps Project)

Last night I thought there was no way. But I didn’t want to push things back a day. The 24th would then be another push-back (there’s no time to train on the 24h.) So I just got started… dress, start the fitbit tracking, saw some firewood, finish warming-up and start hauling my ass up and down…

60 minutes from start to finish (including the warmup). Pullups were 12×5,4,4,4,4,3… I was at 40 reps of pullups and thought I’d never make it to 75. I just kept saying, “anything over 40 doesn’t dig a hole. Just do one more set of pullups.” The plan was to do 75, and I had it in the back of my head (I don’t know why) that I needed +6 sprinkled in over a few weeks; So instead of 12×5,4,4,4,3 for exactly 75, I made the last set a 4, and then an extra set of 3. The last rep was a stall and kip/struggle. I could not have done a fourth rep in that last set.


Seventy. Nine. pullups . . .
…and then updating the spreadsheet back at my desk I see that on Monday, if I do a tidy 80 — ie, NO INCREASE :)))) – the 80th rep will be number 2,000!

So here’s next week planned out. It’s a four training days week, and it’ll be interesting to just do the same number of reps of everything on each workout. The 24th is a “rest” day involving 2 two-hour drives, and 3 (THREE!?) separate stops for Tracy/Stacy’s birthdays. So I’ll be trying to remind myself to keep the eating under control so I can get the workout in on the morning of the 25th.

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 11.08.37 AM

2,000 pullups

(Part 10 of 36 in ~ 10,000 Reps Project)

As I mentioned in the previous post, today’s workout included 80 pullups, and the last pullup was number 2,000. What a milestone! They’re not the greatest pullups – there’s some kipping and flailing at the end – but, build it, lather, rinse, repeat. 16 sets of five pullups is a LOT of pullups. I now have to do that, every other day for a couple weeks to finishing digging pullups out of the hole to catch up with the number of rep’s on the other exercises.