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    I Did 100 Pull-Ups A Day For 30 Days And Here's What Happened

    This was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

    Hey, I'm Spencer! Throughout the last few years, I've done a bunch of different fitness projects for BuzzFeed.

    This time, I wanted to challenge myself with something I honestly wasn't even sure I'd be able to do: 100 pull-ups a day for 30 days.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    This project was going to be a huge undertaking, so I reached out to trainer and registered dietitian Albert Matheny, the founder of SoHo Strength Lab and ProMix Nutrition, for his approval and guidance.

    On a personal note, the last few months have been pretty tough for me. Due to a lot of stress and anxiety, I lost a bunch of weight and muscle mass that I originally worked so hard to gain.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    Even though I consistently worked out and was cautious about what I ate, I wasn't as strong as I used to be. The gym started to feel more like a chore instead of something that I genuinely liked to do. I felt stuck.

    I knew it was time for a change, so the idea of a 30-day fitness project really intrigued me. I'm grossly competitive, and this pull-up challenge seemed like a great way to help hold myself accountable. Ultimately, my goal for this was to get and feel stronger.

    Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

    Working out the same muscles every single day can result in injury, so I worked closely with Albert to figure out a safe, proper way to do this project. For starters, we counted pull-ups as any variation of an upper-body pull (i.e. regular pull-ups, chin-ups, using a parallel grip, reverse grip, etc.). These variations helped me avoid overuse of my body.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    Because I was going to do so many pulls, it was important for me to do a lot of opposing motions. I added a bunch of pushes (handstands, push-ups, etc.) into my routine to avoid putting too much strain on my muscles.

    Albert also advised that I stay away from exercises that relied heavily on grips, like deadlifts, and he said I shouldn't do things like rows or rock climbing, just because they'd overwork similar muscles.

    Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

    I wanted to see how much my body would change just by adding the 100 pull-ups to my daily routine, so I didn't alter too much about my diet. I tried to consume at least 2,500 calories per day, including one gram of protein per pound of body weight (about 160 grams in total).

    I wasn't eating carbs with my dinners (usually sausage + broccoli or chicken + broccoli) to begin with, but I did cut out things like whole milk and bananas, which I'd usually eat in the morning. It was important for me to eat most of my daily carbs before/after my morning workouts, because that's when my body needed the energy the most. I also continued to stay away from alcohol, fried foods, and processed sugars.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    I had two ProMix protein shakes a day β€” one when I woke up and one after my workout. I also added five grams of creatine to one of my daily shakes (this helped improve my muscular strength and power) and a serving of collagen peptides to the other (for joint support).

    Spencer Althouse / BuzzFeed
    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    I've been really honest in past articles about my relationship with my body, how I saw myself, and why I didn't think I deserved to feel good. I put in a lot of hard work to improve my physical and mental health over the last few years, and I've been really proud of my progress so far. All of this has helped relieve some of the stress behind this 30-day pull-up project. As a result, I looked at this as a fun way to challenge myself and see how far I'd be able to push myself.

    I also measured myself and did a bioelectrical impedance analysis before and after the challenge to calculate any physical changes.

    Spencer Althouse / BuzzFeed

    The bioelectrical impedance analysis broke down my body composition and told me things like my weight, lean body mass (134.7 pounds), body fat mass (21.6 pounds), and body fat percentage. I then grabbed measurements of my biceps, shoulders, and chest to see if there'd be any growth by the end of the challenge. Let's do this!

    Spencer Althouse / BuzzFeed

    I was really nervous, excited, and scared to start this project, because I honestly didn't know how many pull-ups I'd be able to do. I didn't want to fail on Day 1.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    Two years ago I couldn't do a single pull-up. I started out by using a resistance band to relieve some of my body weight, and after a while I slowly became able to do them on my own. But now I was going to do 100 a day for 30 straight days. I was terrified.

    My goal for Day 1 was to complete all 100 pull-ups as quickly as possible (without sacrificing quality), and then I'd do the same thing on the final day to compare my times and see if there was any improvement. It took me about 20 minutes to get through the first 50 pull-ups. My arms were so tired, and I wasn't looking forward to doing any more, but I ultimately finished all 100 in 54 minutes. I also did a bunch of push-ups in between sets to get those opposing motions with my body.

    Even though my arms felt like they were gonna fall off, I was really impressed that I was able to complete all of the pull-ups in under an hour. My new goal for Day 30 was to complete everything in half that time.

    I was ridiculously sore for the first few days, and the callouses on my hands were basically visible from outer space.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    My entire upper body was sore for practically the whole first week. Even my abs were sore. It literally hurt to laugh! I also got new callouses on my hands, which ruined my grip and made the pull-ups harder to do. I weirdly loved them, though. I thought of them as mini trophies for all my hard work.

    The main thing that got me through the beginning of this project was that I could do different pull-up variations. If I had to use the same grip for all 100 pull-ups every day, I definitely would have overworked my muscles and I wouldn't have been able to keep going.

    There were some days when I'd wake up and hate myself for creating this pull-up challenge. I just did not want to go to the gym.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    My alarm would go off every day at 6 a.m., and I'd just lie in my bed for a few minutes and regret everything. But then I'd think about the people who were going to read this article, and it weirdly inspired me. I guess I was driven by a fear of public failure. You helped me hold myself accountable, so thank you.

    I did most of my pull-ups in reps of five for the first few days. On Day 6 I decided to push myself a little more and do everything in reps of six, and surprisingly I was able to do it. Not only had the soreness in my upper body gone away, but I was seeing improvements in my quantity of reps.

    Spencer Althouse / BuzzFeed

    I've always struggled with not knowing how hard to push myself at the gym. The first two weeks of this challenge were a real test for me, and I learned a lot about my body.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    I was slowly getting used to all the pull-ups β€” I went from reps of five to reps of six to reps of seven, and now I was doing everything in reps of eight β€” and I was also able to add my regular exercises (squats, lunges, curls, etc.) into the mix.

    On Day 9 I took things one step further. I really wanted to test my body's limits, so I did 100 pull-ups and 100 push-ups, just for fun. I broke everything into reps of six and switched back and forth between each exercise. I was definitely getting stronger.

    The best and worst thing about working at BuzzFeed is that there are alwaysssss snacks around, like this triple-decker cheesecake tower that I had to fight every urge in my body to not eat.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    Working at BuzzFeed is like playing a game of Russian roulette with the snack gods. One day there might be a 100-layer crepe cake for the taking, and another day there's a literal wall of doughnuts. This was not ideal for my healthy lifestyle, and it was a real test of willpower. I probably shed a tear as I walked away from the cheesecake tower and retreated back to my salad.

    Sometimes my gym would be so crowded that I'd have to get creative about where I could do my pull-ups.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    There were only a couple pull-up spots in my whole gym, and I always felt so guilty for using them for long periods of time, especially when it was crowded. Sometimes I'd get so frustrated when the gym was super busy that I'd just leave and go to a park or use the scaffolding in New York to get my pull-ups in. This actually made the challenge a little more fun because it was a change in scenery.

    Spencer Althouse / BuzzFeed

    Being vocal about the challenge on Instagram was a great way to create a support system and keep me motivated.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    The internet is truly a wild place (for better or for worse), but one of my favorite things about Instagram is that people with similar interests to me can join my conversation, and we can help each other grow together. Posting about my pull-up challenge allowed me to open a dialogue with my followers, and I've received a bunch of messages from people who are going through similar fitness journeys and from people who are just getting started. This creates a support system, and it's honestly gotten me through some of my toughest workouts when I wanted to quit.

    At the end of the third week, I noticed that my shirts were starting to fit me better.

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    I was in a BuzzFeed video toward the end of my fitness challenge, and it was the first time I saw my body from a different angle. Normally I'd be looking straight into the mirror/camera, but this time the camera was positioned pretty far away from me, and I was able to see a huge body transformation. I was honestly shocked at how big my arms looked.

    I also felt my shirts getting tighter on me, which I loved. I've had body image issues for my whole life, and they were a big reason why I hated clothes shopping. I got a shirt online a few months ago and was so frustrated because it was way too big on me, but I recently put it on and it actually fit really well, and that was because of the pull-up challenge. That shirt was proof that I made progress.

    At the end of the week, I wanted to celebrate these small victories by doing 100 pull-ups + 100 push-ups again. This time I finished everything in about 50 minutes, which was a shorter amount of time than it took me to complete just the 100 pull-ups on Day 1. The challenge was working.

    Spencer Althouse / BuzzFeed

    I originally wasn't going to say this, but I felt like I owed it to everyone to be transparent: There was one day this week when I didn't complete all 100 pull-ups.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    I've researched enough about working out to know that if your body is telling you "no," you should listen to it. I was tired and sick and physically exhausted one day, so I left the gym after doing only 30 pull-ups. I was embarrassed. At first I felt like I let everyone down, but then I reminded myself that I was still thriving in the challenge. I still hit the 100-a-day goal every other time, and that was nothing to be embarrassed about. Some days there are going to be things that get in the way of my healthy lifestyle. That's just life.

    I knew I wanted to see big transformations in myself, so the last few days of the challenge were crucial.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    I worked extra hard during the final week by doing reps of 10 until I physically couldn't do anymore, and then I went down to reps of five, six, and seven. The whole time I kept thinking back to Day 1 when it was a huge struggle for me to just get through the first 50 pull-ups. I was proud of myself. But more importantly, I was almost done, and I was so sick of doing pull-ups. I could practically see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    On the last day of the challenge, I completed all 100 pull-ups in 21 minutes vs. the 54 minutes it took on Day 1.

    Instagram: @spenceralthouse

    I did it! I'm officially done! But more importantly, I shattered my goal by completing all 100 pull-ups in just 21 minutes. I honestly didn't think I'd make it this far. Two years ago I couldn't do a single pull-up, and I just did 100 of them every day for 30 days. I'm so proud of myself.

    Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed
    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    I'm sitting at my desk at work, staring at these before and after pictures, and I honestly can't believe how big the changes are. I was really worried when I started this project that there wouldn't be that much of a transformation. I didn't want to let anyone down, but I'm so happy with the results.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    I can't emphasize this enough, but the goal of my challenge was not to get abs or bigger arms or wider shoulders. Obviously I'm thrilled with these results, but the main reason I did this was because I wanted to feel stronger again. I remember going to the gym and getting so frustrated with myself because I couldn't lift what I used to, but these last 30 days have really pushed my body to new limits, and I feel great.

    Spencer Althouse / BuzzFeed

    My jaw honestly dropped when I saw that I lost 2.9% body fat in just 30 days. That loss in fat, coupled with the .5 pounds that I gained, really showed how much muscle mass I added to my body. My lean body mass went from 134.7 pounds on Day 1 to 139.6 pounds on Day 30. I'm so impressed with myself.

    Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

    If you think about it, 30 days is actually a pretty long time for a fitness challenge. Instead of thinking about the whole project as a monthlong process, I broke it up into weekly increments. I thought to myself, "You only have to do this for seven days. That's it." And after I finished the first week, I re-convinced myself that I could do it again, thinking, "Okay, you just did it for one week. That means you can do it one more time." Before I knew it, I had completed the whole challenge.

    I don't know how to say this without sounding ridiculous, but I'm just a regular person who wanted to challenge himself, and I thrived. There's nothing special about me or this challenge β€” anyone can do it. All it took was some hard work, a little willpower, and a desire for success.

    I used to go to the gym and be so envious of people who could do pull-ups. It was unhealthy for me to compare myself to them. This challenge reminded me that everyone has to start somewhere. Like, just look at me. I originally wanted to be strong enough to do a single pull-up. That was my first goal, and I accomplished it. Then I wanted to get stronger and stronger. I never imagined that I'd be able to do 100 pull-ups a day for 30 days, but I did it.

    If you want to keep up with the rest of my journey, you can follow me on Instagram: @SpencerAlthouse.

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