Herschel: Train hard, be hard to beat


Herschel Walker won the Heisman Trophy during my freshman year at UGA. He had already been a phenom and was the talk of the college football world from his very first game. I was in awe of him at the time and still am. He remains a freak of an athlete even in his 50s.

In the early 1980s Herschel was the this soft-spoken, humble kid from rural Georgia who was an athletic outlier among athletic outliers. So fast and so strong. He seemed so much better than any other player on the field, and I can attest to the thrill of watching him take over games and put a charge into 80,000 spectators.

He says that he was an overweight kid who got bullied by others and was just an afterthought on his school team. When he asked his coach how to get better, the coach said, “Do pushups and sit-ups and sprints.” So, Herschel did just that. And then some.

He loved watching TV, and every time a commercial came on he would do pushups until the show came back on. The next commercials would have him switch to sit-ups. He would do thousands of reps every night, and he would go in his yard and race his sister, who went on to be a track star at UGA.

And that’s all he did. He didn’t lift weights and work with a trainer. Just pushups, sit-ups, and sprints. Over and over and over. And he became the athlete we now know.

Clearly he’s got good genes, but they wouldn’t have been realized without his relentless, obsessive work ethic.

How strong would you be if you did a thousand pushups a day? What price are we willing to pay in effort and discomfort, even pain, to get really good at something?

Herschel is still doing a crazy number of pushups every day. He’s still working on being awesome.

What routines do I need to pursue with Herschel’s level of obsessiveness? What hard things should I take on so that I might be hard to beat?