Push-ups, Sit-ups and Sprints

When Herschel Walker was asked at the University of Georgia about his weightlifting routine, he had a curious response. He said he had never lifted a weight in his life. For those of you who do not remember Walker, he was an extremely well muscled and fast running back for the Bulldog football team in the early 80’s.

When he was asked how he got so big and fast, he responded “Push-ups, sit-ups and sprints.” He went on to say when he was a scrawny young kid of about ten, he asked a gym coach how to get bigger, stronger and faster and the coach responded with the same answer as above.

What he did not tell the young Walker is how many. So, while watching TV, Walker would do push-ups or sit-ups during the commercials. He said it got to where he was doing about 1,000 of each routine every day. Then, he would go out and do sprints until he dropped.

Walker may have been the finest high school and college football ever to play a down. When I lived in Atlanta, I saw footage of Walker in high school. It is not an exaggeration to say the majority of times he touched the ball, he scored a touchdown, often playing only 1/2 the game as the score was so lopsided. The Hall of Fame quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, said in a guest sports news appearance, wherever Walker decides to go to college, the team will be an “immediate contender for the national title.” Georgia won the national title in Walker’s freshman year and he won the Heisman Trophy for the best collegiate football player.

Walker’s pro career was successful, but he did not stand out as much as he did in high school and college. I think he came up against equally talented athletes, so the margin was smaller. His positives were his strength and speed, but pro football longevity is predicated on elusiveness as well, which he did not need as much in the amateur levels.

Nonetheless, he was a significant player. He was also very humble and polite. Let me leave you with one telling story. After his career was over, a couple was stuck in their car as it was wrecked and rolled over with smoke coming out of the hood. This large African-American man was jogging by, so he immediately went over, realized the dilemma and ripped the door open helping the couple to safety. Then he ran on once he knew they were OK.

He never said a word to anyone what he had done, until a reporter asked him about his role in helping the couple. He shyly admitted he had helped them. He was called Superman by the couple and press.

Push-ups, sit-ups and sprints. We can always better ourselves. I am not saying do 1,000 of each, but a few each day would not hurt. The key metaphor is we have the power to make ourselves better, be it through physical or mental activity. It can be as easy as doing a few push-ups or sit-ups with each commercial.

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7 thoughts on “Push-ups, Sit-ups and Sprints

  1. Awesome story, Keith! Not being a sports fan, I never heard of Mr. Walker, but he is certainly inspiring! Push-ups, sit-ups & sprints, eh? Hmmmm … I believe I will have to stick with my daily 4-mile walks, because if I tried push-ups or sprints, somebody would be picking me up off the ground! 😀

    • Jill, I am a walker as well, so my sprinting days are well behind me. I still do some push-ups every other day. While I do some Yoga-type stretching, I have tended away from sit-ups. If you lived in Georgia and did not know who Herschel Walker is, you may be asked to leave the state. Keith

  2. The Vikings gave up the farm to get Walker years ago and he turned out to be a disappointment. But, as you say, he was up against others about as strong and fast. But he was fun to watch and always a threat to “break one.” And he kept a very low profile — which is in sharp contrast with so many star athletes thee days.

    • Hugh, I forgot about the Vikings stint. As I recall, he was the first star of the USFL. By the time he got to the NFL, his best pro years were behind him. I remember in college, he could just run over people.

      That reminds me of a linebacker when asked who was harder to tackle – Earl Campbell or Larry Csonka? He said Earl would elude you, but I just feel I get in Larry’s way. Keith

    • Gronda, quite true. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours investing in your craft comes to mind. While there are limitations, each of us can improve ourselves physically and mentally.

      A very small example, golfers who buy a new putter tend to putt better. But, it is not the putter by itself, it is the greater amount of practice with it.

      Keith

  3. Note to Readers: I have written a post around this quote, but I am reminded of it with the various comments. The famous golfer Gary Player once responded to a reporter’s question about a lucky shot. Player said, “I find the more I practice, the luckier I get.”

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