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The Man Who Did 100 Pull Ups A Day For 100 Days! (Interview With Michael Casey)

You read that right, 100 pull ups for 100 days STRAIGHT. No rest. No days off. Just flat out pull ups despite how you feel!

We’ve all seen YouTubers doing 100 this and that for 30 days but who have we seen do this and that for 100 days?!

I’m still looking……..

Michael Casey is a friend of mine I’ve known through Instagram now for a couple of years. We’d often message back and forth about lots of things pertaining to our mutual passion; calisthenics training.

He went off grid just before the ‘pandemic’ and was away for months and months but I didn’t forget him. Then one day I saw his profile was reactivated. I had to reach out and check in with him. We shared our thoughts and philosophies on the madness going on in the world until he dropped a bombshell……….

“I’m doing a charity challenge in the new year that involves 100 pull ups a day for 100 days!”

“Holy shit, that’s some task! I assume you won’t be doing anything outside of that? And what’s the charity?” I said.

Michael told me he wouldn’t do anything outside of the 100 per day with the exceptions of special challenges to mark milestone money raising figures. The charity he’s raising money for is ISPCC Childline – a charity whose mission is to support vulnerable and less fortunate children in their development to adulthood.

The charity is a god send for those not as fortunate as most; the kids with single parents, or parents who can’t afford the luxuries other kids take for granted, or those suffering from all forms of abuse and are looking for a way out/someone to talk to. And that’s just scratching the surface. Their work encompasses a huge spectrum of services benefiting children across Ireland.

ISPCC - Wicklow Enterprise Park

These kind of self mutilating challenges are right up my street. I climbed all three peaks as fast as I could and trekked up to York in England from London just to see Callum Keen attempt the most ring muscle ups in 24 hours, for the charity ‘Break The Chain’ in December 2020. I just wanted to be part of it and inspired. These kind of events always put things right into perspective. And furthermore, they bring people together in a world that’s often massively divided against our wishes.

May be an image of one or more people
Action shot from Callum Keen & Ollie Anderson’s joint attempt at the world record for ring muscle ups in 24 hours (Dec 2020)

So the crazy thought of joining Michael for 30 of the 100 days crossed my mind. BUT, shoulder health was woeful at the time and I knew adding 3000 pull ups to my milometer would be suicidal. Begrudgingly I was sensible and left him to trooper through alone.

However, I did join in with every single ‘special challenge’ each time he raised another 1000 euros! Some of these monumental events included:

  • 50 ring muscle ups & 100 pull ups
  • 300 pull ups
  • 100 wide grip pull ups
  • 100 x 15kg pull ups
  • 100 x tucked front lever rows
  • 100 x planche push ups
  • 100 x 25kg pull ups (I did 30kg)

And as if all that’s not enough, Michael will be doing 800 pull ups in a session to mark the end of the 100 days. What’s even cooler is he’s inviting others to take on the challenge with him. And you guessed it, I’ve signed up!

A the time of writing, he’s raised 8,183 euros! Which is just an incredible achievement and throughout this journey he’s just kept on like a trooper, promoting his challenge, documenting it, liaising with media and day after day, just pulling up and down, over and over.

As he rounds out this challenge in style, I wanted to catch up with him and get more into the story behind such an event and find out more about his journey in general.

Here’s our little ‘interview’:

1. Tell us where the idea to do 100 pull ups for 100 days was born from and when did it go from an idea to an actual event? 

I had the idea in November where I wanted to give back in some way. I could see that I was more privileged than others throughout this pandemic due to being able to work and being better able to manage my mental health after learning from my own past struggles. I wanted to do something for Christmas but after giving it more thought I wanted to go as big as possible and as tough as possible so I decided to wait until the New Year, and so the 100 Pullups Every Day for 100 Days was born.

2. Why did ISPCC Childline have such a special place in your heart? And was it tough to choose the charity or was it a no brainer for you?

Many different charities crossed my mind when I wanted to choose one, and all do amazing work. However, I have always believed that children and young people’s issues have been ignored and neglected and during these difficult times it has been no different.

The ISPCC Childline, which stands for the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, do incredible work helping the children and young people of Ireland. Childline receive over 300,000 contacts from vulnerable children and teenagers needing support every year and have seen an even greater demand for their services since the pandemic and the lockdowns. Children are having their lives turned upside down without any resources to help them.

Many children who are struggling with self-harm and suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and more now have seen their support networks cut or even stopped. Many children who are victims of domestic violence or witnesses to domestic violence are now trapped in that destructive environment 24/7 because of lockdown. Cyber bullying in Ireland has shot up by 28 percent during lockdown, a staggering and horrifying statistic. Even the lucky ones, the kids who aren’t being abused, bullied or struggle with their mental health, have seen their routines completely disrupted by not being able to go to school, see their friends or play sports like every child has a right to, and they are expected to just deal with it and cope on their own.

How is that fair?

Childline is a wonderful service that has provided invaluable support for children struggling during the lockdowns, and in the end, it was an easy decision to fundraise for them. Children are the future. They will grow up to shape the world we live in and it’s key that we provide them with the best possible chance to shape it into something good. A person’s childhood has a direct impact on their future, so it’s absolutely crucial that we try and make that childhood as positive as we can for them.

3. How would you summarise the challenge physically? There must have been times where it felt tough and you were sore and there must have been times where you were riding the wave. Were there any times that stand out in your memory physically for being really tough?

Physically, the challenge has been extremely demanding at times. Mentally, it has been even more so. The first week were the hardest with DOMS. After that my body adapted to it and I’ve just been battling general fatigue. I haven’t been nearly as disciplined as I should be, and often I’ve left the 100 reps to the early hours of the morning due to lack or motivation and mental fatigue.

I haven’t prioritised sleep, stretching or recovery work like foam rolling which was a mistake. So for anyone who wants to emulate my efforts, it’s important to know that I could have done a lot better for my own personal wellbeing. I have gotten a lot stronger despite my body not being allowed a days rest. At the beginning of the challenge, I did 100 reps with 10kg and I recently did 100 reps with 25 and I can honestly say that the 25kg didn’t feel that much harder.

I also just got the one-arm pullup, an exercise that had evaded me all the time I was actually training for it and has now came to me when I haven’t even been thinking about it. Looking back, a lot of times stand out to me. I’ll never forget the early days of the challenge where it was -2 degrees and I had to put my coat on and grip a hot water bottle in between sets……

The workouts I did after each thousand passed, like 50 ring muscle ups with 100 pullups, or doing the 100 reps weighted are also memorable workouts. I did 300 reps after passing my original target of 3,000 Euro, and I found that difficult at the time. None will hold a candle to the final workout though of 800 pullups, one I’m really excited about.

4. In those moments when things get tough, were there any particular sources of motivation to keep you going? Certain people, the donations, your past, the sentiments of the charity etc?

The cause always kept me going. When the cause is a good one, one that is big enough for people to believe in, it is easy to not give up. The pain of this challenge is not even a tiny fraction of the pain the children who ring and text Childline experience, and I think of each and every one of those on days I’m not as motivated to do the workout.

I would like to give a special mention to my girlfriend, Fiona, who has been with me every step of the way. From editing the videos, recording when she was able, doing a week of 100 pushups, sharing the fundraiser on her social media, helping organize the Easter raffle I recently held for the fundraiser, to just being there and encouraging me, she was a rock for me and definitely inspired me to keep going.

5. How did the MONSTROUS 800 pull up workout idea come about and what’s the significance of 800?

After every thousand raised, I started doing special workouts which would test myself even more and help raise even more awareness for the charity. After raising one thousand, I did 100 pullups X 100 dips. After 2,000, I did 50 ring muscle ups X 100 pullups. This went on for the duration of the workout until most recently I did 100 pull ups with 25kg to mark passing 7,000.

For the final day of the challenge, I knew I had to do something big. Throughout the challenge the 800 figure came up over and over as I tried to draw attention to my cause, the reason being that an average of 800 children and young people contact the services every day needing support. So I thought, what better way to highlight this number than to do 800 pullups? So that’s what I’m doing. One pullup for every child who uses the service every day needing help.

6. What are your plans for after day 100 rolls around? Will you take time off it all? Maybe in a strange way you’ll miss the hustle?

My immediate plans are to take some time off training and allow my body some time to recuperate from the demands I put on it. I’ve Miles Morales Spiderman PS4 game I’ve been waiting to play ever since I got it and that will be my new challenge. After that, I’ve many fitness goals to achieve this year. Funnily enough, the one-arm pull up topped that list after failing at it time and time again and I just got it after testing my OAP for the fun of it before taking on another workout of 100 reps.

Michael’s One Arm Pull Up success on day 99!

7. Do you have any other plans for more fundraising in the future? More similar challenges or maybe something even bigger/totally different?

I’d love to fundraise again in the future but it HAS to be bigger and better. Maybe a muscle up challenge? I’m not finished fundraising in 2021 either. I’ve been growing my hair out for a few years now and at the end of this one I want to shave it off and donate it to raise awareness for cancer.

8. Do you have any advice, tips or wisdom for anyone looking to do something similar? 

Just start. Don’t overthink it – just start. Even during this challenge, people have taken on the 100 Reps for Childline Challenge and afterwards thanked me because they surprised themselves when they completed it. Many people don’t realize what their body is capable of and don’t try in fear of failure, but I promise that you’re much more capable than you realize and you can do it. And if you fail, so what? Failure is merely an obstacle on your way towards success. Just brush yourself off, learn from your mistakes and use it as an opportunity to get better and you will accomplish your goal.

9. Lastly, do you have a piece of life advice you try to live by or a favourite quote/line of sorts? 

This may seem like a shameful plug, but I sport a Spiderman tattoo on my left forearm after my own quote from my book, Breaking Free; “Everyone has a monster living inside of them, but everyone has a superhero too, to stop that monster.” I truly believe that everyone does have both monsters and superheroes inside time, and it’s crucial that you embrace your inner superhero to stop your monsters and go out and achieve everything you want to do.

Breaking Free: A compilation of short stories on mental illness and ways to  handle them: Casey, Michael: 9781912328222: Books
Michael’s book, Breaking Free

Other quotes I love:

“Be here now – it’s all about being present and not fearing what you don’t know.” Andy Whitfield. I have Bí Anseo Anois which is Irish for Be Here Now. Andy played Spartacus in the show Spartacus: Blood and Sand, a favourite show of mine. He tragically died at just 39 of cancer, and all the while suffering with it, remained as positive as he could and urged his fans to focusing on the now.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” by Vivian Greene. I think this quote is more relevant than ever in these current times.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterwards some are strong in the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway. A reminder that pain and hardships are not the end, and can mould you into something even greater if you don’t let it defeat you.

Thanks to Michael for a great interview and for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us.

If you’re only just hearing about this challenge now and are wanting to donate to support Michael’s efforts, here’s the link to do so:

For a detailed log of the challenge, check out Michael’s Instagram page where he tirelessly logged all the sessions across every day for 100 days: Michael Casey on Instagram

If you’re interested in Michael’s book, Breaking Free, check it out on Amazon. It’s a wonderful book full of stories about mental health and people’s experiences with different challenges from all walks of life!

Also, if you can find it in your heart to want to donate any amount at all, here’s the link to do so: Michael’s Fundraising Page

There will also be footage of the 800 pull up session on my Instagram page and also on my Youtube. Links below!

My Instagram

My YouTube channel

Thanks for reading. I hope this inspired you to do more good in the world.

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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