George Hood doesn’t believe in doing anything halfway.
Not during his time as a U.S. Marine Corps officer in the 1980s.
Nor during his decades spent in federal service as an investigative agent for both the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
And certainly not for the past decade in “retirement” — during which the 63-year-old endurance athlete and personal trainer has become focused on setting world records in feats of fitness- and endurance-related strength.
In February 2020, he made headlines by setting the Guinness World Record for the longest plank: eight hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds. Some 10 days after setting that record, he was still recovering, telling CNBC that he was in “excruciating” pain.
Already a record holder:Former Marine planks for over 8 hours, setting Guinness record
Hood holds an even longer plank world record — 10 hours, 10 minutes, 10 seconds — that was certified in 2018 by a different sanctioning organization (Assist World Records).
The post-event pain doesn’t seem to discourage Hood because those are just a couple of the 13 world records he’s set (and in some cases re-set) since he made his first successful world record attempt in rope skipping — going for 13 hours, 12 minutes, 11 seconds — in 1986.
Since 2007, he’s also set records in stationary cycling (222 hours, 22 minutes, 22 seconds), 40-pound weighted plank (two hours, 35 minutes, 35 seconds) and 24-hour plank accumulation (18 hours, 10 minutes, 10 seconds).
Hood always tries to turn his world-record attempts into fun, celebratory events, so on Saturday, in compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols, the Illinois man will be making his latest certified world record attempt — this time for most pushups in an hour — at Evolution Fitness in Boca Raton, Florida.
The number he’ll be trying to surpass: 2,919.
For Saturday’s event, which starts at 10 a.m., all proceeds raised will benefit the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund, an organization that provides assistance to veterans after their tours have ended.
Only a limited number of spectators will be permitted to attend in-person at the outdoor venue, where masking and social distancing will be enforced.
Hood’s YouTube page will broadcast a live feed.
Both Hood and Evolution Fitness are inviting attendees to help raise money for the cause by making a small donation and taking the “10-minute pushup challenge” — an invitation to do as many pushups as one can in a 10-minute period.
“This will give folks the chance to test themselves and get just a small taste of what it feels like to do what I’ll be doing on Saturday,” Hood said.
Folks can also donate by visiting the event’s GoFundMe page.
To prepare for Saturday’s world record attempt — which Hood said will be “the shortest yet most kinetic and dynamically challenging I’ve ever done” — he has spent the past year ramping up his daily pushup count.
“Until I began tapering a few weeks ago, I was doing them in sets of three or four and totaling about 5,000 a day.”
Hood said since he decided in January 2020 to take aim at the pushup record — “I had to break my plank ‘addiction,’” he said with a laugh — he’s done more than 1.3 million pushups cumulatively.
“I’ve spent seven hours a day for this particular world record attempt and have taken off only four days in the last 14 months,” he said.
In addition to the 5,000 pushups, his daily training regimen included some 2,000 sit-ups, 2,000 leg lifts, two hours of planking, and a 60-minute, 2-mile-long cardio routine, as well as other exercises and strength-training movements to keep his mind, core and 5-foot, 9-inch, 160-pound physique in top condition.
Legendary fitness guru Jack LaLanne was one of his inspirations, Hood said. In 1956 at age 42, LaLanne set his own unofficial “world pushup record” by doing 1,033 in 23 minutes.
“I grew up with Jack LaLanne and was always inspired by his fitness feats because they reflected a natural and authentic approach to health and fitness,” Hood said.
As to what attracted him to chasing world records, Hood, who’s been a fitness enthusiast his whole life, said natural curiosity that led him to wonder: “How long can I do this or how many reps can I do?” and “I wonder if there’s a world record for it?”
During training, Hood — who’s divorced with three adult sons — has already surpassed LaLanne’s pushup pace, doing around 1,000 in 20 minutes, and believes come Saturday, he’ll be well-positioned to set the new world mark.
Of course, Hood — who describes himself as “loner” — would be the first concede he couldn’t set, or even attempt, any of these world records without his stellar support team.
This tightly knit group of friends are like-minded in their enthusiasm for, and fascination with, endurance world records. They help Hood ramp up his training and supervise the logistics during the actual attempt.
One member of the group who Hood said has been instrumental in helping him attain peak form in both the plank and in this new challenge is Renae Cobley. She’s an internationally renowned cognitive and endurance athlete “mindset” coach from Sydney, Australia.
“Renae is the one I turn to when I need that extra bit of support or advice,” he said. “In many ways, she’s more like a sports therapist than she is a coach.”
Cobley, said Hood is “a remarkable athlete whose fitness achievements and cognitive experiences are life-changing and just so inspirational to those who witness them.”
As for how he fuels his body, Hood says his diet is pretty “basic.”
“I try to eat cleanly,” he says. “No fast food or junk food. It’s all about consuming fresh food — things like lean protein, high-quality complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables — as well as controlling portion size and avoiding sugar and anything that’s processed.”
Nevertheless, he estimates he can burn up to 4,000 or 5,000 calories daily during training, so he has to eat accordingly.
Saturday, Hood will put all that training and preparation to the test.
Regardless of whether he sets the record, Cobley promised, “George always delivers a performance that is truly inspiring.”