Why Everyone Should Experience 100 Pull-Ups

Nick Austin
2 min readApr 8, 2017

I once heard Jessie Itzler describe his experience living with a former Navy SEAL. Jessie said that he met the SEAL (named “Seal” to protect anonymity) at a 100 mile run in San Diego. Jessie invited Seal to come live with him and his family for a month.

Jessie felt like he was stuck in a routine — get up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, repeat. On the first day Seal came to live with Jessie, Seal challenged Jessie to do an immensely difficult task: Do 100 pull-ups. Jessie squeezed out 8 pull-ups before running out of gas, but then Seal kept pushing him. Rest 30 seconds, do it again. Rest a bit more, do it again. Eventually Jessie just started crunching out pull-ups one at a time. But he eventually got to 100.

After I heard this, I wondered — could I do it? So I went to my local gym and found a pull-up bar. I said to myself, “I can’t go home until I do 100.”

I did 15, then 10, then 8, then 5, then 4, then 3… Until the most I could do in one rep was 3 pull-ups. I just stood under the pull-up bar, sore and tired, banging out 3 pull-ups at a time. By the time I hit ~80 pull-ups, I felt spent. My arms, chest, and shoulders screamed at me in pain. But I kept persisting until finally… I hit 100 pull-ups.

I felt sore for a full week after that experience, but I felt proud that I had the mental and physical fortitude to accomplish the challenge posed by a former Navy SEAL.

I feel like you experience the full emotional spectrum while doing the 100 pull-up challenge. You feel ambition, courage, anger, frustration, happiness, and even fear. Somewhere around pull-up 50, you start to hear a little voice in your head whisper, “I’m not sure if I can do this.” But you keep pushing on, and you ignore the voice. Another voice whispers, “This is too painful.” But you keep pushing on, and ignore the voice.

Finally, once you get to 80 pull-ups, you feel a boost of excitement. You’re 80% done — and since you got through 80%, the last 20% should be a piece of cake right?

The path from 80 to 100 pull-ups makes the entire challenge worthwhile. You feel a wave of gratitude wash over you — you’re actually grateful for these last 20 pull-ups because you could only get to them by finishing the first 80. You feel like these 20 pull-ups are hard work, but you’re so close to success that it doesn’t even feel like work anymore. Your body’s natural pain killers have kicked in, and you almost don’t feel the pain.

And when you get to 100? Well, the only way for you to know how it feels after you’ve finished the 100 is to go try it yourself.

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