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What Does It Take to Beat a World Record?

By Lindsay Maizland | 12/7/15 10:24pm | Updated 12/7/15 10:24pm
Lindsay Maizland / American Word Magazine

1,902. The number of pushups Edric Machi completed in one hour. The number should have earned the freshman a spot in the Guinness World Records book, but Guinness’s administrative process and another pushup enthusiast got in the way.

When Machi set out to beat the world record for the most pushups done in an hour last May, the number was a mere 1,874. Machi did 1,902, easily passing it. But Guinness requires two months to process new records, unless you pay over $700 for “Fast Track” so that your case is given priority review. Machi didn’t pay. Two days before his record was set to be approved by Guinness, the previous record holder completed 2,220 pushups and paid for Fast Track. Machi’s name would not show up in the book. He was shocked but not devastated. “I see it as a challenge,” said Machi. “I was planning on improving the record anyway, so this is just more motivation to do that.”

Machi has been doing pushups since June 24, 2014. He was randomly flipping through the Guinness World Records book and saw the record for the most pushups done in one day (46,001, if you were curious). He thought, “If he could do it, why can’t I?” So he got down on his stomach and did 30 pushups. “And then the next day I did 33, then 36, 39 and all the way up to the thousands,” said Machi.

Machi’s ultimate goal is to beat the record for most pushups done in a day, but for now he’s focusing on the hour-record. He plans to attempt to break it this spring in Cassell Fitness Center.

Machi’s training regiment has changed as he’s gained advice from other world record holders. When he first started, he tried completing large numbers of pushups non-stop. He made it into the low 100’s and then decided to break his training into sets.

“Now I only get my pushups done in 10 minutes,” said Machi, describing his new training plan. It’s a Thursday night and Machi is wearing black basketball shorts and a striped T-shirt. He pulls two blue mats out of the corner in the Bender Fitness Center group exercise room and reaches down to grab his toes. Stretching for a few seconds is important when you’re about to do hundreds of pushups in 10 minutes. Machi gets down on the mat and explains his new strategy - he’s going to try to do 60 in the first minute followed by doing 40 for each of the remaining nine minutes. Hopefully he can reach his goal of completing 400.

Lying in front of Machi on the mat are his phone counting down the time remaining, a notecard and pen for him to tally how many pushups he has done, his glasses that fell off his face during his first set and a water bottle for his short breaks between sets. More than five minutes into the workout, Machi’s breathing is definitely audible and his breaks become a little longer. But he does his pushups quicker and ignores his shaking body. He doesn’t end up reaching 400 but does complete a solid 380 pushups.

The training is not only physical but also somewhat “spiritual,” as he said. He has been inspired by other record breakers, including Wim Hof who has the world record for the longest ice immersion, among other records. Hof has published books on meditation and gaining ultimate control of your body and immune system. Machi has tried meditation techniques and said that being in control of your mind is key to success. “I think alone that the human body can’t do these things,” said Machi. “I think that it’s with aid from the mind that we can do these things.”

Machi not only researches other record breakers’ techniques but has also actually talked with them. Charles Servizio, a 65-year-old California resident who has the record for the most pushups done in 24 hours, offered diet advice (“no drugs, no smoking, no drinking”) and tips for success. Machi and Servizio are competitors, but at the same time, their passion for pushups brings them together. Machi said hopes to meet Servizio in person one day, but only after he beats Servizio’s record.

Will Machi end up being a 60-year-old man who keeps doing pushups like Servizio? Probably. “I can’t see myself not doing [pushups] anymore,” he said.