1,000 sit ups

Nearly ten years ago, I was a fifteen-year-old with outlandish dreams and ideas constantly passing through my mind. During the summertime (of '99 I believe), I somehow got the idea to start doing sit ups on my own. Perhaps I wanted to follow my older brothers in their pursuits of increased physical strength and improved physique... Perhaps I wanted to get the attention of girls... Or perhaps I wanted to feel more confident about myself; I hadn't taken a P.E. class during the previous school year, and I wasn't exactly involved in any established sports to speak of...

I can't say exactly what I was thinking or feeling that drove me to do sit ups; it was probably a mixture of all of the above-mentioned reasons. But the part I still can't figure is how I suddenly bridged the gap between a 'few' sit ups and 'a lot' of sit ups.

I started out, as I recall, doing a maximum of 50 in one set... Now 50 sit ups aren't a big deal, but they were to me at the time! I kept on pushing myself, and after a few weeks, I reached my initial goal of 100. Reaching that small goal boosted my confidence immensely, and I started doing a set of sit ups every day to the point of being able to do a set of 200 and not even feel much different after the fact. I decided to step it up one day, and I did 250... without really feeling much of a difference. The next day, I was feeling good, so I decided to aim high: 500 sit ups. "Now I'll feel the burn for sure this time," I thought...

I thought wrong... no burn... so I just kept going... I reached the 750 mark, and having drastically surpassed my initial goal by a whopping fifty percent, I decided to stop. I felt good; I could have done more. But I was just so surprised with my newly increased capability that I stopped...

The next day, I set a new goal: 1,000 sit ups...

But something changed; I got distracted somehow in that short time. Perhaps my pride pulled me down... I don't quite remember, but I
'm sad to say that that goal remained untouched all these years... only apparent on an old chalkboard in our basement /makeshift weight room.

Over the years, I thought about my unaccomplished goal every once in a while. I wanted to be able to lay down and just crank out those 1,000 sit ups like clockwork... but I knew I didn't possess the same reserves of strength and stamina that I had built up previously. After returning from an LDS mission in 2005, I had managed to immediately return to my weightlifting habits easy enough, but I hadn't dared to start doing sit ups again.

Towards the end of this past summer, I was looking for ways to develop my core body strength, and so I started to do crunches and sit ups of different types. Inevitably, I was reminded of my sit up goal... of my failure to finish...

I set a new goal on August 20: 1,000 sit ups by my birthday in mid-November. I wasn't sure if I would be able to make progress as quickly as I had in my teenage experience; nevertheless, I was quite confident in my potential. After all, I had reached 750 sit ups before, and I knew I could do it... even if I was to make the attempt nearly ten years later.

Now, lest you think it was a cakewalk this time, take a look at what I recorded in my sit up log:

Aug. 21 @ 11:45
===> 200 sit ups ===> 10:05.54 mins
Aug. 20-something? ===> 250 sit ups
Sept. 5 - in weight room ===> 100 sit ups
Sept. 6 - " " " " ===> " " " "
Sept. 9 - " " " " ===> " " " "
Sept. 11 - " " " " ===> 200 sit ups
Sept. 16 - " " " " ===> 250 " " ===> + or - 10 mins
Sept. 19 - " " " " ===> 300 sit ups ===> 12 to 13 mins
Sept. 23 - " " " " ===> 500 sit ups ===> + or - 20 mins
Sept. 25 - " " " " ===> 800 sit ups ===> 32 mins
Oct. 2 - " " " " ===> 300 sit ups ===> 17 mins :(
Oct. 7 - " " " " ===> 500 sit ups ===> 25 mins
Oct. 200
Oct. 100
Oct. 21 - " " " " ===> 200 sit ups ===> 11 mins :[
Oct. 29 ===> 1,000 sit ups!
2008 =) 'TIS DONE!

1,000 sit ups
===> 25 extra for contingency
TIME = 55 mins 47.84 secs

There it is... talk about a roller coaster! With the start of school, I lost desire to do my sit ups at home, so I started doing them at the end of every workout in the gym. As you can see, I was still all over the place, including this past week or two. Just last night, however, I decided to do a set at home, since I hadn't done any in the previous week; I guess the break paid off!

For your information, if I haven't clarified the fact already, my goal involved a single set of full sit ups, no rests, no cheating in form. I simply placed my toes under a small bar (or cabinet toe kick at home), held onto my head by the ears, and went to town!

I like to compare the whole process to a marathon, or perhaps a mini-marathon (or at least my concept of such). The human body can take amazing amounts of punishment, especially when trained and built-up for such a purpose.
Let me describe how the whole process feels, just to give you an idea:

40 to 50 sit ups - oftentimes this point represented the first pain threshold; pain and tightening

150 to 200 sit ups - pain usually subsides in abs; moderate sweating; focus on next hundred or next intermediate goal

400 to 500 sit ups - no pain in abs; heavy sweating (gets in your eyes); other muscles (back, shoulders, arms, calves) tightening; pain in joints (especially elbows, sometimes knees, lower back, or shoulders); focus on final goal (whatever you think you can do based on how you feel)

700 to 800 sit ups - discomfort returning to abs; increased tightening and/or pain in lower back; continued pain in elbows; profuse sweating (to the point of my hands sometimes slipping off my ears); eyes closed (keep out sweat and focus on count); dry throat

1,000 sit ups- all of the above; great satisfaction (and not just because you can finally stop and drink water!)

During the whole process, I was amazed at how much it helps to focus on small, intermediate goals along the way. For example, I would often reach 25 sit ups, in a given interval of a hundred, and tell myself, "1/4 done," or at 67 sit ups, tell myself, "2/3 done," and so on. I was feeling so good and confident last night that I told myself, "1/3 done," at 333 sit ups (in addition to the small increments), and so on until reaching 1,000...

If I ever lost count or was unsure about the previous sit up, I would do the following one at the last number I remembered (usually only off by one in a moment of delirium!). And at the end of every set, I always did at least ten extra sit ups to assure myself and anyone else that I had reached my goal beyond the shadow of a doubt...

I am grateful to have achieved this goal, however immature or ridiculous it may have seemed. I finished what I started. I reached a point that seemed unattainable... perhaps even laughable to my own former, doubting self.

I share this small miracle with the intent to uplift, inspire, and motivate, as well as to celebrate in a small way. You and I can do it; we can realize our dreams if we simply believe and push... and push some more... and even a little more. What else is this life?


  1. Well, Sir Ascot, this is motivating. I need to start doing sit-ups. I have noticed the same concept at work at the treadmill. I used to be able to go for five minutes and felt like dying. Now, I can go for an hour ...as long as their is a large window to look out of (at my clubhouse) or two good sitcoms (at home) to get me through because now it is more about boredom than stamina.

    I will let you know how my sit-up goal goes. It is starting right now. It will be 50 for a few days.

  2. So...are you going to continue doing 1000 sit-ups or was this a one-time thing?

  3. Nooooo, this was pretty much a one-time thing... (but I will continue to do other exercises and weightlifting to maintain myself!)

  4. TIME TO WRITE AGAIN!! If anything you can comment on your lack of skills in the original Scattegory's thoughts ...

  5. your self maintenance is legendary! and your light bearding awaits a day when you can strive for the goal of heavy bearding. its what i do instead of sit-ups, very challenging indeed to keep one thousand hairs growing on the chinny chin chin, with all the adversity in the world against it.

  6. yes, so true... there is much adversity... especially at BYU. I can't even attempt heavy bearding for at least another year! (Although my light bearding over Christmas break received good marks across the board) ahhh, some day...