Freshman Rod Azghadi does a pushup outside his home. Azghadi challenged himself to do pushups to get stronger for the basketball season. (Photo courtesy of Azghadi)

QUARANTINE CRASH COURSE: Freshman delves into strength training with 1,200 pushups in one week

This past basketball season, the Country Day boys were out-toughed every single game.

As one of the tallest players, I’ll take some of the blame, but I’ll also take the initiative to make sure we don’t have another one-win season.

During the quarantine, I’ve been strength training every day to prepare for next year.

With gyms being closed, I’ve desperately searched for workouts that don’t require equipment. That’s when I discovered calisthenics. According to Men’s Health, calisthenics is a form of fitness that uses gravity and bodyweight leverage.

After countless hours of browsing TikTok and YouTube for effective workouts, I came across men’s lifestyle influencer Jose Zuniga. I’ve watched his fashion tutorials, but never his fitness videos.

His pushup challenge video caught my eye. It consists of 300 pushups a day — 100 in the morning, 100 in the afternoon and 100 in the evening. Each set is a variation of a pushup — incline, decline and regular.

Zuniga’s video also shows him before and after 30 days of completing the challenge, and the change was impressive.

After rewatching the video to fully understand the process, I decided to embark on my own pushup journey. 

My martial arts background familiarized me with pushups, but I had never done hundreds a day. With just one week to work on this story, I knew that dedication to the regimen was crucial if I wanted results.

As many people say, the first day is always the hardest. Completing Day One was a success, but I struggled toward the last set. I also broke up each set into four reps of 25.

I felt the pain the next day when I woke up. I was so sore that it was hard to lift my glass of milk in the morning. After that, I decided to do 150 pushups a day — 50 in the morning, 50 in the afternoon and 50 in the evening.

Another reason I reduced my reps was my mom, a doctor, expressed concern about rhabdomyolysis, the breakdown of skeletal muscle that can lead to kidney damage. 

The most difficult pushup was the decline. I put my legs up on a chair and my arms on the ground, forcing all the pressure into my arms and chest. 

Over the week, the pushups became more difficult each day. The absence of rest days definitely put strain on my muscles.

At the end of the week, I felt stronger and overall more confident. 

Unlike with Zuniga, there weren’t any visual changes. If I continued the challenge for 30 days, I’m sure there would be a transformation.

However, I won’t continue this challenge, as it focuses on only one group of muscles. I recommend a workout that strengthens both the upper and lower body. 

After participating in this workout, I wanted to take my quarantine fitness to the next level, so I bought Bowflex 552 dumbbells. I also found a dumbbell workout program, which occasionally incorporates pushups. 

Don’t worry — Country Day will be back next season stronger than ever, ready to take down any opponent.

At least I will.

By Rod Azghadi

Originally published in the May 26 edition of the Octagon.

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