If you’re a manga fan or a fitness enthusiast plugged in to the latest workout trends, you may have heard about the One Punch Man workout.
The workout originates from the Japanese superhero franchise “One-Punch Man” by the pseudonymous manga artist ONE. It’s popular among fans of the series, in part due to online influencers attempting to follow the routine for 30 days to several years.
This article breaks down everything you need to know about the One Punch Man workout, including its origin, structure, risks, benefits, and effectiveness.
As mentioned, the One Punch Man workout comes from the manga and subsequent anime series of the same name.
The series revolves around the fictional superhero Saitama, known as the One-Punch Man. Saitama is incredibly strong and can defeat any opponent with a single punch. In fact, Saitama plays a pivotal role in the series’ ongoing conflict between monsters and superheroes.
Saitama claims to have developed his strength by following the One Punch Man workout, which consists of 100 situps, 100 pushups, 100 squats, and a 6.2-mile (10-km) run.
After following the workout for 3 years, Saitama loses his hair but develops his one-punch knockout power, which ultimately allows him to defeat the monsters.
Thus was born the One Punch Man workout.
The One Punch Man workout originates from the manga series by the same name. In the story, following the workout daily for 3 years enables the main character to defeat any opponent with a single punch.
Here’s a brief summary of the pros and cons of the workout:
Following the One Punch Man workout as described in the book is fairly straightforward — at least in theory. Simply perform 100 situps, pushups, and bodyweight squats and a 6.2-mile (10-km) run every day.
The following breaks down the technique for each bodyweight movement:
Situps are a classic bodyweight core exercise that primarily trains your abdominal muscles and hip flexors.
To perform situps:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor.
- Place your hands behind your head or cross your arms over your chest. Avoid pulling on your head from the back and excessively pressing your chin toward your chest.
- Once in position, sit all the way up in a controlled manner until your chest nearly touches your thighs.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat for the target repetitions — in this workout, that’s 100 reps.
Pushups are a bodyweight exercise that engages your chest, shoulders, and core.
To perform pushups:
- Begin in a straight-arm plank position with your back flat and hands on the floor directly under your shoulders.
- Slowly lower your chest and body toward the floor by bending your elbows.
- Upon reaching roughly 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the floor, press through your hands to return to the top position.
- Throughout the motion, keep your core tightly engaged to prevent your hips from sagging toward the floor.
- Repeat for the target repetitions — 100 for this workout.
Bodyweight squats are a lower body exercise that primarily targets your glutes and quadriceps, with some activation in your calves and hamstrings.
To perform bodyweight squats:
- Stand with your feet roughly hip-width apart and toes turned out between 5 and 12 degrees.
- Stick your hips backward to initiate the lowering phase of the movement.
- Lower your hips as you naturally bend at the knees.
- Work to keep your weight centered in the middle of your feet. Keep your torso upright and back straight. Ensure that your knees track in the same direction your toes are pointing.
- Continue lowering as much as you can without your back rounding or your knees caving in. Aim to have your thighs at least parallel to the floor.
- Push through your feet to drive back to the top position.
- Repeat for the target repetitions — 100 reps for this workout.
Putting it all together
The full workout calls for 100 repetitions of each movement, performed using proper technique, followed by a 6.2-mile (10-km) run.
In theory, you’re encouraged to perform the workout without much rest. Yet in practice, you may need to rest occasionally during the 100 reps, as well as between exercises.
The full One Punch Man workout involves 100 situps, pushups, and squats followed by a 6.2-mile (10-km) run. All reps should be performed with proper technique.
The benefits of the workout include muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness improvements.
Bodyweight movement benefits
- improved strength in the pectoral and upper trunk muscles from pushups
- reduced cardiovascular disease risk as you get better at doing pushups
- decreased body fat percentage from squats
- improved leg muscle thickness from squats
- improved quadriceps strength from squats
Running is the final component of the One Punch Man workout. Ample research suggests that running regularly improves your fitness.
- reduced body fat and overall body mass
- lowered resting heart rate
- lowered blood triglycerides
- increased ability to use oxygen
- reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- reduced risk of death from all causes
The benefits are largely dependent on the duration of the exercise, with longer runs associated with greater improvements in health.
The bodyweight movements and running in the One Punch Man workout can provide an array of positive effects on health and fitness.
Assuming you follow the One Punch Man program as originally designed, you will primarily work the following muscles:
- rectus abdominis: from doing situps
- rectus femoris: from doing situps
- psoas: from doing situps
- pectoralis major and minor: from doing pushups
- anterior deltoid: from doing pushups
- triceps: from doing pushups
- quadriceps: from doing squats and running
- gluteus maximus: from doing squats and running
- hamstrings: from running
- calves: from running
Performing the One Punch Man workout as described trains many muscles in your upper and lower body.
Although there are some research-backed benefits to the exercises included in the One Punch Man workout, there are also risks worth discussing.
Excessive exercise volume
The first major issue is the excessive volume.
If you’re not already in shape for this level of workout, performing the high number of repetitions will be difficult. In fact, unless you have experience with calisthenics and are already in shape, you’re unlikely to be physically able to perform every rep with proper technique.
Using poor technique on movements like pushups and squats places undue stress on your joints and may cause both acute and overuse injuries.
When it comes to running, 6.2 miles (10 km) is a long distance, particularly if you’re not already a proficient runner.
Although you might be able to force out that grueling distance without running training, you’ll be risking injury since your joints and muscles aren’t conditioned for that volume of running.
On top of the excessive volume in each workout, you’re encouraged to follow the program every day.
It’s highly unlikely that you can go from deconditioned to performing this workout every day without seriously risking an overuse injury, a poor technique injury, or under-recovery issues.
Regardless of your exercise regimen, one or more weekly rest days are always a good idea.
Ineffective core training
Using situps as the only core training exercise in a calisthenics program is not in line with the latest research on effective core training.
In general, a large body of research recommends that strength and conditioning professionals focus on compound multijoint exercises for maximal functional core training (
Further, a recent study on the benefits of core training utilized a combination of different exercises — not including situps — to develop functional core strength and improve trunk stability. Trunk stability is the ultimate goal of core training (
The study concluded that the core can and should be trained through many movements that target the overall musculature. Situps alone are not a comprehensive core training program.
Additionally, although many people can safely do situps, research suggests that situps can cause or worsen low back pain in susceptible individuals. This means this exercise — especially 100 reps of it — isn’t appropriate for everyone (8).
The One Punch Man workout promotes excessive exercise volume for beginners and can easily lead to injuries from overuse or poor technique. Additionally, situps are not a safe exercise for individuals prone to low back pain.
Although the original One Punch Man workout is an incredibly challenging routine, from a comprehensive fitness standpoint, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Missing movement patterns
The biggest issue is that the workout includes only a few of the key movement patterns needed for a comprehensive fitness program:
- horizontal pushing: from the pushups
- squat: from the bodyweight squats
- lunge/gait/running: from running
The following movement patterns are neglected:
- hip hinge: as in a deadlift
- overhead pressing: as in a barbell or dumbbell overhead press
- horizontal pulling: as in dumbbell or seated cable row
- vertical pulling: as in chinups or pullups
- loaded carrying: as in a farmer’s carry
Missing athletic components
The One Punch Man workout also neglects training of different movement speeds and resistance levels.
Assuming you can complete a full One Punch Man workout, you will primarily train your muscular endurance through bodyweight exercises and your aerobic endurance through running.
The following athletic components are neglected due to the limited use of different movement speeds, limited exercise types, and lack of external resistance:
- explosive power
- maximal strength
- agility and change of direction
Although muscular endurance and aerobic endurance are not bad things to work on, they are far from a complete set of athletic skills.
The One Punch Man workout is not a balanced workout routine due to neglected movement patterns and a lack of comprehensive athletic training.
The central claim of the One Punch Man workout is that it gave Saitama the power to defeat any opponent with just a single punch.
While this account is obviously fiction, you might be wondering whether the workout increases your punching power.
The answer is that it depends.
Punching is a specific athletic skill that involves striking with a closed fist. The punching movement depends on rotation and explosion from your feet, hips, and shoulders transferred into the forceful impact of your fist into a target.
For a powerful punch, proper coordination among all the muscles involved is far more important than the strength of any single muscle. So, if you already have an excellent punching technique, strengthening your muscles might improve the maximum power of your punch.
Still, without proper punching technique, additional strength likely won’t drastically improve the power of your punch.
If your goal is to develop a powerful punch, you’re better off incorporating boxing training into your workout routine as opposed to only doing bodyweight movements and running.
While boxers, kickboxers, and MMA fighters include variations of situps, pushups, squats, and running into their training programs, the actual sporting technique within each martial art is the primary driver of their ability to hit hard with each punch.
The One Punch Man workout is not effective on its own for improving punching power. However, if you already have a good punching technique, it may offer some benefits.
If you still want to do the workout, you may be better off approaching it as a challenge rather than an effective workout routine in its own right.
Approach it as a challenge
Building up to the full routine will certainly offer some physical benefits, such as improving your running endurance and training certain muscles.
However, the workout isn’t optimal on its own for the long-term progression required for true development of strength, athletic ability, and punching power.
Nevertheless, there’s nothing wrong with setting the goal of completing the One Punch Man workout. Just think of it more as a challenge — like running a marathon or competing in a sports event — than a long-term proper training program.
How to get started
If you aspire to complete a One Punch Man training program, your best bet is to start with a fraction of the overall workout and build up to the full session.
Start with 10–20% of the volume and slowly work your way up to the full training program. For example, you could start with 10 reps of situps, pushups, and squats followed by a 0.62-mile (1-km) run.
Depending on how you feel, you can then add 5 additional reps and 0.3 miles (0.5 km) at the end of each week and build up to the full workout.
Keep in mind that it’s better to do fewer reps with proper form to protect your body from injury than to go too hard too soon and potentially hurt yourself.
Additionally, consider taking 2–3 weekly rest days and mix up your training program after a few weeks.
Finally, if situps cause or worsen low back pain, switch them out for another core exercise such as bird dogs or skip them altogether.
It’s best to think of this workout as a challenge rather than a comprehensive fitness program. Unless you’re already in good physical shape, the daily exercise volume can be unattainable. Start slowly, focus on proper technique, and take rest days.
The One Punch Man workout is an intense routine inspired by the Japanese manga and anime series of the same name.
It consists of 100 situps, pushups, and squats followed by a 6.2-mile (10-km) run. In the fictional story, the character Saitama performed this routine for 3 years, ultimately developing the strength to defeat any opponent with a single punch.
Although the routine is physically challenging and trains a variety of muscles, it’s not an optimal workout program.
The initial volume is too high for most beginners, and the limited movements and athletic components mean it isn’t a comprehensive program for long-term fitness development.
Plus, without specific training in punching sports like boxing or kickboxing, you won’t significantly increase the power of your punches.
Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of the series or just looking for a physical challenge, working toward doing the full One Punch Man program is an acceptable goal — just be sure to start slowly and build up to the full workout.
Ultimately, any single workout program will need to be switched out for other programs with time if you want to develop lifelong fitness.