Pushups, you either love them or hate them. For those who feel an affinity to the exercise, it’s a skill that can come out whenever you please. From one-handed pushups to the superhuman push-up, the movement is one that demands explosive power and a mix of endurance and strength when it comes to the arms and core. And it goes without saying, we’re yet to meet someone who hasn’t been impressed by someone performing a two-finger handstand push-up. But for Nate Carroll, a push-up variation wasn’t enough. Rather, he wanted the title of world record for most pushups performed in a year.
Now, the father of three can boast as much as he broke the world record for most pushups completed in a year with a new record on June 6 when he performed rep number 1,500,231 on the 50-year line at MetLife Stadium. Carroll wasn’t just doing it for bragging rights, he also took on the year-long challenge as a means of raising money and awareness for Tunnels to Towers, a foundation that provides financial support to the families of first responders who have died in the line of duty.
In an interview with Men’s Health UK, he explained, “The record for most pushups in 365 days has interested me for a few years. Yet, I understood if this challenge was going to be taken on, there had to be more depth to it besides just breaking a record. I wanted this to honour those families who lost their mum or dad in service to our nation. Each day I spent time reflecting on my appreciation for the job first responders do and the fact that each pushup was earning donations to provide mortgage-free homes to these heroes and their families.”
In doing the challenge, Carroll not surprisingly built up considerable muscle in his arms and core, averaging more than 4,000 pushups a day. Still, he believes it’s the mental transformation that’s been the most significant. “The most dramatic change was my mental strength and the understanding that the body is a phenomenal creation, and if properly cared for and conditioned, can endure significant physical stress and accomplish tremendous feats.”
Performing with that kind of intensity and consistency is a staggering challenge, but one Carroll ultimately embraced. “During these times, when my body was hurting, I had to manage my negative thoughts and doubts, keeping in perspective why I took on this challenge. Focusing solely on what I control (my effort, my technique, rest, and as much as possibly schedule) helped keep negativity from taking root within my mind. I found comfort in knowing that if I controlled these little things for each set, eventually it could add up to something special.”
Though he’s broken the record already, Carroll’s full year doesn’t end until June 13 and he’s confident he can inspire more people to donate to the cause. After then, you’d assume he might take some time off, or at least afford himself time to relax. Instead, he’s setting his sights on his next fitness challenge, which could just be running 50 miles while carrying a 100-pound rucksack and swimming across Lake Winnebago. “I’m 45 years old and not getting any younger,” says Carroll. “But I still have things I want to accomplish.”