Unlike most athletes, Herschel Walker didn't achieve his brawny physique by lifting weights - he got it from decades of doing bodyweight exercises.
And we're not just talking about a few reps here - we're talking thousands of push-ups and sit-ups every day.
Like many, I was fascinated by Herschel Walker's workout routine, sparking my own fitness journey. Delving into his exercise regimen, I began incorporating similar practices into my routine, experiencing firsthand the challenges and rewards of Walker's approach.
Herschel Walker’s Career Highlights
Herschel Walker played college football for the University of Georgia as a running back, where he became a three-time All-American in both track and football and the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner.
He began his professional football career with the New Jersey Generals of the now-defunct United States Football League (USFL) before signing with the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL).
He also became a player for the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants during his time in the NFL.
Besides playing football, Walker also earned a fifth-degree black belt in taekwondo, competed as an Olympic bobsledder, danced with the Fort Worth ballet, and fought MMA at 53.
- Birthday: March 3, 1962 (58 years old)
- Height: 6'1 (1.85 m)
- Weight: 225 lb (102 kg)
Herschel Walker Diet And Nutrition
Herschel Walker is not one to conform with the majority, and that includes his diet. Walker eats only one meal a day, i.e., dinner, and would sometimes fast for several days.
An article published in Healthline shows the health benefits of fasting .
His diet consists mostly of soup, bread, and salad. He doesn’t eat red meat but will have chicken with his meal occasionally.
How His Bodyweight Workouts Began
Walker’s commitment to fitness traces its roots back to his rough childhood.
As a child, Walker had a speech impediment and was fat, which made him the target of bullies at his school.
But after finishing sixth-grade, he decided that he'd had enough and approached his older brothers’ track coach, who advised him to do push-ups, sit-ups, and sprints.
Since that day, Walker never missed a day of working out. He would use his body weight to train and would squeeze in sit-ups and push-ups at home whenever he can. Inspired by Walker's story, I too began using bodyweight training as my foundation.
Herschel Walker kept his bodyweight workouts throughout his athletic career and didn’t start lifting weights until he was several years into playing football.
Walker’s results were all borne out of his hard work and intense training. Here’s the philosophy behind his unique workout routine.
It’s All In The Reps
Walker has performed thousands of pushups and sit-ups every day since high school.
According to a 2023 article published in Men's Journal this massive number of reps isn't usually recommended for building strength as the body adapts to the exercise. Still, he has found a way to keep the muscle mass gains coming by incorporating a whole lot of variety into his workouts .
Diversity is key
Walker explored a wide range of physical activities and sports such as dancing, martial arts, and track and field to keep his interest up and make his muscles work in different ways, intending to make them stronger from every angle.
"Bodyweight training is great for mobility, stability and creating movement patterns. You want to build a strong foundation, be stable around the shoulders, hips and spine.”
- Lisa Wheeler, Fitness Leader
Trial and Error
Walker doesn’t like to follow formula workout routines, so he just creates his own exercises and sees what feels right for his body and what doesn’t. This approach allows him to gain a sense of achievement as he discovers more ways to strengthen his body in the long run.
Following Walker's lead, I too avoid formulaic routines. Experimenting with various exercises has made my fitness journey more dynamic and personalized.
Skip Rest Days
Walker wouldn’t let a day go by without doing some kind of resistance training workout. He has rarely missed a single workout since he started his bodyweight program as a youngster.
Herschel Walker Workout Routine
Here are the exercises inside Herschel Walker’s unique workout routine.
Walker does 3,500 push-ups daily but keeps it down to 1,500 reps when he’s doing MMA training.
He tweaks his push ups by only going halfway down to the floor, repeating this move 150 times.
Walker would then do 10 to 20 reps of the harder variations, i.e., feet elevated on a chair, hands together under the chest, one-handed push-ups, handstand push-ups, and return to the halfway-down push up, then back again to the hard ones.
He will finish off his floor push ups by doing the standard ones slowly.
Finally, he would do 10 sets of handstand push-ups with short rests between sets until he hits his overall rep target.
Walker does 3,000 sit-ups a day with a ton of variations, including straight-legged, bent-legged, leg raises, legs on a chair, side crunches, and twists.
Walker does 1,500 pull-ups a day in different variations such as palms facing away, palms facing toward, and pulling himself up until the bar touches the back of his head.
Once these became too easy, he wore a weight plate around his waist and did one-arm pull-ups.
For cardio, Walker would often do running drills in the form of speedy sprints.
Growing up, he liked sprinting up and down hills due to the additional challenge that the incline presented.
He would wear a weight vest, hold small dumbbells in each hand, or pull a tire filled with 25 to 50-lb dumbbells or shots for added resistance.
As usual, Walker found a way to customize swimming by making up his own water exercises.
He would do underwater “power claps” and a modified breaststroke in which he would thrust his body upwards and out of the water every time he moved his arms back.
Walker also did taekwondo kicks and punches underwater.
Here are the other workouts that Walker likes to mix with the above.
- Monkey bars
- Squat thrusts
- Rope climbing
- Jumping drills/plyometrics
- Jumping rope
Also Read: How to Do Monkey Row?
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