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The Herschel Walker Workout - You Can Build Muscle With Bodyweight Exercises

Updated on March 22, 2011

How a 48-year-old man gains muscle without weights

The old mantra of every gym rat is that you can't gain muscle without weight training. There's just no way that you can build a bigger body without lifting something heavier than yourself. High reps will only lead to toned muscles, but you've got to have low reps at high weight to reach hypertrophy and bulk up.

To counter these notions, I present to you Herschel Walker. Some call him a freak of nature. Doctors have trouble explaining how he does what he does. It doesn't seem like it could be possible. So, what is Herschel Walker doing that every other exercise nut in the world isn't doing?

Herschel Walker does a workout every morning that consists of 1,500 push ups and 2,500 sit ups. Throw in a few hundred chin ups, and it's easy to see how this guy stays in shape. But it doesn't end there. After his morning workout, he skips breakfast and immediately does his MMA training, which by itself would probably cause the average athletic twenty-something to pass out. At 48 years old he is one of the oldest competitors in MMA history. Before he was involved in mixed martial arts, he was a professional football player. That was 14 years ago!

In addition to his freakish workout routine, Walker also has a very strange diet that would kill most people who train like he does. As I said, he eats no breakfast. In fact, he only eats one meal a day, dinner. I bet you're thinking he really loads up during that meal, stuffing himself with protein, right? Wrong. His diet consists of bread and salad. On many days he consumes less than 1,000 calories from food. I'm not sure how that's possible. People have studied his daily habits and they don't know how it's possible. So what is his secret?

Herschel Walker truly is a freak of nature and cannot be duplicated, but he also teaches us something about how the human body works. With enough practice, the body can become very efficient. For most of us, efficient is a good and a bad thing. It's good because it means we've been working out and our muscles are working properly, but it's bad because efficiency means fewer calories being burned and less muscle being gained.

Should everyone try the Herschel Walker workout? Absolutely not. Probably less than 1/100th of 1% of people would even be capable of something like this. You should probably get a set of adjustable dumbbells and do something like P90X, which is more than intense enough for most people. What I wanted to convey to you is the amazing capabilities of the human body. If Herschel Walker can do over 3,000 push ups and sit ups in a morning, can't you do 100 of each?

By the way, Walker did release a book a long time ago titled Basic Training, and it's about his workout routine. It very in demand, and it's very out of print. If you can find it, buy it. 

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  • denkmuskel profile image

    Michael Schmitz 6 years ago from Berlin

    I've heard of Herrschel when I got interested in the "Warrior's Diet" by Ori Hofmekler. Someone mentioned that Herrschel was following this diet and I've been trying it for almost 6 weeks now in a little softer version as I am rather skinny and would like to at least keep my 134pd at 5,9f and rather gain some extra pounds than loosing them. I don't really believe in the "theoretical" background of that diet as most of it is rather anecdotal but there's nothing against trying it carefully without getting too fixed on the philosophy of wanting to be a fighter. Only healthy individuals should try this on their own. I feel way more energetic than with the old eating cycle, that made me fall asleep around one two o'clock and I feel more independent as I don't feel like I have to eat during the day [often resulting in eating junk-food]. But people like Herrschel are a vivid example of the flexibilty of the human body and mind. Inspiring hub. Thanks.

  • MosLadder profile image

    Chris Montgomery 7 years ago from Irvine, CA

    I like that point about the body becoming efficient. You really have to listen to your body and trust your instincts-and of course, work hard! Great topic DB Cooper, now where'd you stash the cash?

  • Kurant82 profile image

    Brett Foster 7 years ago from Tallahassee, Florida

    very swwet hub, and the fact that hershal basis his daily routine on one meal a day and has had the same routine since college if not highschool says alot. Heisman trohpy winner, NFL running back, Olympic bob sledding team, now MMA. This man is awesome/

  • LakeShow T profile image

    LakeShow T 7 years ago

    Great hub once again DB. Very informative. Thanks for mentioning it on the forums. The guy is a freak of nature. He's going on 50 and looks like a 25 year old beast.

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