If you had to commit to a number, how many burpees would you be willing to grind out in one session? Is 100 a reasonable benchmark? Maybe 200 or more, if you're feeling fresh? For Matt Sallis, former champion of SAS: Who Dares Wins, 5,670 is the figure to beat – the current Guinness World Record for the most burpees within 12 hours.
As we'd expect from a man who emerged victorious after 10 gruelling days of simulated SAS selection, Sallis isn't content with merely attempting the record on 14 November. He wants to annihilate it. "If I'm going to do it, I want to make sure it's very difficult to beat," he says. "The training plan I've created is based on a certain rep range across a certain number of minutes. If I manage to stick to the plan, it will equate to 7,500 reps."
Sallis' 12-week training regimen has been twofold: physical and mental. To prepare his body for the task, he tackles a mix of strength and high-intensity training, interlaced with a variation of reps, session lengths and speeds of burpees. As for building mental resilience – he's been grinding out the move for two, three, and even four hours at a time. "I've got a clock up, and I'm doing a set number of reps per minute," he says.
The most Sallis has completed in one sitting? "2,250, and to be honest with you, I'm probably not going to go any further than that, because it's not the conditioning I need to work on now – it's tissue tolerance," he continues. "Can I cope with that many reps in a day without a tendon or a ligament going, or a muscle tear?" (continued below)
It's a tall order for a good cause. Through his record attempt, Sallis hopes to raise enough money to supply every county in England with a life-saving defibrillator and improve awareness about how to use one. Having saved a man's life with a defibrillator 10 years ago, he's acutely aware of how vital this bit of kit can be. So, throughout the 12-hour stint, British Heart Foundation will be hosting short CPR workshops, which will be live-streamed on Facebook as Sallis racks up burpee after burpee.
His biggest issue, at the moment, is getting enough food in. Sallis is currently sitting between 8-9 per cent body fat – down from around 15 per cent pre-challenge training – due to the volume and intensity of his workouts. "I'm eating around maybe 5,000 or 5,500 calories a day at the minute, and I'm still losing weight," he says. "It's just the sheer output." On the day, it's estimated he'll burn somewhere in the region of 8,000-10,000 calories.
"I'm going to work for 24 minutes, and then rest and refuel for six minutes," he says. "I'm planning to try and break the record around the eighth or ninth hour, which is a higher pace than I need to be, but at least then I can implement a plan B if I need to. I'm excited, because I've left a good portion of it to the unknown. Going past the six hour physically, mentally, I don't know how I'm going to feel or what's going to be like."
Fancy a flavour of Sallis' training? Tackle his typical weekly strength and conditioning session, below, to build muscle mass, strength and injury resilience. Start by prepping your body with some warm-up moves. Sallis recommends 45-second blasts of the following exercises, repeated twice:
Scorpion into Downward Dog Toe-reach
Medicine Ball Slam
Once you're loose and warm, it's time to get after the first segment of the workout.
Circuit One: Strength Maintenance
This round focuses on strength maintenance and injury resilience. "The aim of the strength segment is to use loads similar to your bodyweight to create tissue tolerance," says Sallis. Complete 6-8 reps of the following three exercises, and repeat the circuit three times.
Barbell Push Press
How to: Grab a barbell and hold it at shoulder height with palms facing forwards. Set your feet shoulder width apart and slightly bend your knees to inititate the move. Push up with your legs to explosively press the barbell straight above your head. Return under control to the start position.
How to: Step up to a loaded barbell, keeping the barbell close to your shins, standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Tighten your abs, push your butt back, and bend at the waist, lowering until your arms can grasp the bar. Squeeze your glutes and make sure your hips are lower than your shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades. Maintaining this position, explosive row the barbell to the bottom of your ribcage. Lower. Reset your body and repeat.
Front Rack Lunge
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a barbell across your upper chest. You can either support the weight on your fingers, with wrists extended, or cross your arms to support the weight. Step forward with your right foot and sink into a lunge, so both legs are bent with your back knee as close to the floor as possible. Drive yourself back up and repeat, then change sides.
Circuit Two: Muscle Mass Maintenance
The next segment of the workout is devoted to muscle mass maintenance. "Burpees – a lot of them – means a lot of output," says Sallis. "Tell your body you need muscle, and stimulate muscle fibres. Tension is key here." Complete 8-12 reps of the following three exercises, using a 4-6 second negative control on each rep. Repeat the circuit three times. Aim for failure on the last set.
Incline Dumbbell Chest Press
How to: Lie back on a bench set to a 45-degree angle and lift the weights up to shoulder height, palms facing away from you. Breathe out as you press up with both arms. Lock out your arms and squeeze your chest before returning slowly to the start position.
Incline Bench Pull
How to: Lie face down on a bench set to a 30-degree incline, position your feet either side for stability and hang a barbell beneath you using a neutral grip. Keep your head up and bring your shoulder blades together as you row the weights towards your chest. Lower to the starting position under control.
One Leg Dumbbell Deadlift
How to: Hold two dumbbells in front of your thighs, palm facing inwards. Slowly lift one leg straight behind you, bending the other slightly, and lean forward so that your arms lower the dumbbells towards the floor. Pause, then return to upright position.
You're not done yet. Grab a fresh towel, because the final portion of the workout is a gruelling conditioning finisher. Perform an EMOM – that's every minute, on the minute – 8 or 10 calorie sprint on the Air Bike, and then hop off and perform chest-to-floor burpees. Only stop when you've completed 100 burpees. Then give yourself a pat on the back.
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