Burnaby man breaks Guinness World Record for most chin-ups in 24 hours (PHOTOS)
In late 2022, a Metro Vancouver resident became the official Guinness World Record Holder for the most chin-ups completed in 24 hours.
Marcus Da Silva was born and raised in Burnaby, BC. For the past several years, the 25-year-old had been training to challenge the previous record. When he first started his journey in the summer of 2019, the record sat at 5,340 and had been set several years ago.
Formerly a student at Simon Fraser University, Da Silva was studying Law at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England, when he decided to embark on this challenge. He tells Daily Hive in an interview that he wanted to both challenge himself as an individual and separate himself from his peers.
“I really felt that as an individual, I was leaving money on the table,” he explains. “I felt that I wasn’t getting the most out of myself. I definitely did consider myself to be weak mentally and I wasn’t someone who was able to handle pressure very well.”
Da Silva had always considered himself an athlete, as well as a hyper-competitive individual. Looking up to figures like David Goggins, Michael Jordan, and Tom Brady, he began looking at different physical feats that he could accomplish.
“I thought to myself, ‘didn’t David Goggins break that pull-up record?'” he says. “And so I stumbled upon the pull-up record which was 7,715 reps set by Brandon Tucker, who I’ve now become friends with.”
“Then I found the chin-up record, which at the time was set at 5,340. And it’s funny because, for whatever reason, 7,715 reps was too much. But 5,340 reps was totally doable.”
Starting from zero
Da Silva’s workouts started from scratch — he would complete 20 chin-ups in a 30-minute window. He slowly ramped up to completing 50, and 100, and continued to grow from there.
“I remember I was stuck at 180 reps for a really long time; I would do six reps a minute for 30 minutes at a time,” he explains. “And I was stuck at that for a few months. But then I tried to do 180 every day. And then it became what can I do in a week?”
Breaking down larger volumes into smaller steps was crucial in his early stages of progress.
“That was how I structured it because you can’t wrap your head around going from 20 to 5,000,” Da Silva says. “But you can wrap your head around 20, to 50, to 100, to 250.”
As far as the physical side of his training went, Da Silva also heavily credited DDP Yoga — a unique practice curated by Diamond Dallas Page, a now-retired professional wrestler. He also paid a lot of attention to his breathing, taking in techniques from Wim Hof, a Dutch motivational speaker.
“When I look back over my shoulder, it’s so crazy to think that I truly did it my own way,” he adds. “I took as much information from as many sources as I could. But the way I formulated it was with countless trials and errors. All I did was make mistakes. People didn’t see me fall on my face hundreds of times.”
But on top of the physical demand required to beat the World Record, he quickly realized that he’d have to sharpen his mind as well.
“I understood enough, from learning from people that are better than me, that this was a mind game. Extreme pain and fatigue mess with your head. Physical pain and fatigue have a way of exposing your insecurities — it’s going to find the cracks in your mental game.”
The first attempt
Da Silva’s first attempt, albeit unsuccessful, took place on December 19, 2021.
In the span of two years, he had gone from doing 20 chin-ups a day to 3,000 to 4,000 every week. Despite his physical progress though, he says he felt far from ready.
“The week before [my first attempt], I was feeling the worst I had felt, probably, that whole year,” he reminisces. “I show up on the day and I’m feeling terrible. I have no power, no explosive movement. I’m sore, I’m getting tired, and my heart rate skyrockets.”
His first attempt would end after 15 hours, completing just over 3,700 chin-ups. And while he was unable to reach his goal of 6,000, Da Silva says that he was ultimately proud that he showed up to begin with.
“I knew I was compromised — like I knew that I wasn’t feeling well,” he explains. “But I have a responsibility. I said I was going to do this today, and that’s on me. I wanted to show up, even if I fell on my face. Because at least I showed up. And doing 3,700 was nothing to sneer at.”
Despite finding some silver lining, however, he adds that the feeling of losing was both a tremendous blow and a massive wake-up call.
“It was devastating,” Da Silva adds. “It’s difficult to describe when you put yourself out there. It felt like someone pulled my heart out of my chest. But what was interesting, sort of a double-edged sword was that my belief in my ability to beat the record was stronger at that moment than it had ever been.”
“What I recognized was that, ‘oh, it just means I’m not going to do it today.”
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Back to the drawing board
Da Silva explains that he conducted a review after the first failed attempt, dissecting what went well, what went wrong, and what he could improve for next time.
One of the first things he did was reach out to Brandon Tucker, an individual who holds two Guinness World Records — one for the most pull-ups in 24 hours and another for the most muscle-ups in 24 hours.
“I just thought, let me talk to this guy,” Da Silva says. “There’s something that this guy is doing that’s working. And I was fortunate enough that he responded right away.”
“And I had many conversations with him from the mental side of things to the physical side of things. I would bug him like a pesky little brother. But he was extremely gracious, and he answered every question, and he was great.”
The biggest takeaway that Da Silva got in his conversations with Tucker was to continue training and to stay on the path.
He ramped up his training heavily, spending four to five hours a day working out. This included doing daily ice baths, one to two hours of yoga, and extensive running. Six months after Da Silva’s first attempt, he was able to complete 5,500 to 7,000 chin-ups in the span of a week.
He also began journalling, which he credits as an important tool in keeping a clear head, becoming stronger mentally, and embracing a more positive mindset.
“What I really started to do was embrace more gratitude,” Da Silva explains. “I basically was just appreciating the journey, appreciating the fact that I started at nothing. And I was getting stronger, a little calmer, and a little more present.”
“Leading up to my second attempt, there was a real outpouring of positivity because I opened myself up to it. I almost had a bit of an awakening, almost. The fact that I could even reorganize my life to train and execute this goal by beating the record.”
“And so what that did for me was put this idea that, now, because I have this opportunity, I have this responsibility. I have this moral obligation to succeed.”
The second time’s the charm
Da Silva’s second attempt at the Guinness World Record took place on August 20, 2022.
This time, the spectacle was bigger than ever, highlighted by friends and loved ones in his life. The attempt took place at BodyByBrandt, a gym in Port Coquitlam whose owners Da Silva had befriended. In addition to a beer garden and food trucks, there was even live music — the band being that of his old guitar teacher.
He began at a remarkable pace, doing continuous chin-ups for 90 minutes, followed by a 15 to 20-minute break. Da Silva began at that pace on August 20 at 11 am, until August 21 at around 5 to 6 am.
Despite the improved effort, however, his body was quickly wearing down.
“By 8 pm, I was in a pretty bad spot,” he explains. “My shoulder was gone. The pain was getting to be pretty bad, I could feel things popping and tearing. My hands are starting to break down, going numb. And every time I would finish a set, I would hang over a fan because the cool air was keeping me from passing out.”
What happened next, however, was something that neither Da Silva nor his family expected. Some of his friends found out that another individual in New York had also begun their own attempt at the same Guinness World Record.
“His name is David,” Da Silva says. “He’s a 20-year-old kid from New York. And what’s even stranger is that he goes to the same university that my older brother in Boston.”
“We did not know about each other leading up to it, we didn’t know about each other until about 5 am. And both our attempts were being live-streamed, so we were on camera. But they knew everything about me and they announced that they were going to cut their feed.”
While Da Silva doesn’t know whether to attribute it to his exhaustion or his ultra-competitive spirit, he says that finding out about another competitor was enough to push him to another level.
“Something about them cutting the feed made me angry, I didn’t like that,” he explains. “I took that personally — no disrespect to David, the guy’s a stud and he impressed the hell out of me. But in those moments, I was thinking about everything that I had gone through in those three years of training.”
“And you know, I just found something. That happened finding out about another competitor. It was like I literally opened a door into an entirely different world. So then at that point, I turned around and said, ‘I’m going to go until my shoulder rips out of my body.'”
Da Silva was able to increase his speed and pacing. And from approximately 6:30 or 7 am to the completion of the 24 hours, he took zero breaks, performing anywhere from seven to eight to 10 chin-ups every minute.
“It was absolute insanity,” he describes. “It kind of sounds like I was unstoppable, and nothing hurt. But let me tell you, those last hours hurt more than the entire process. I was exhausted, I was breathing heavily. I could feel blisters inside my gloves popping inside my hands — so gnarly. But the speed and fluidity were like I had just started.”
By the time 11 am hit on Sunday, August 21, 2022, Marcus Da Silva had completed 7,087 chin-ups in the span of 24 hours.
It would later be confirmed that his mysterious competitor, David Brush of Shelter Island, New York, completed 6,757.
“I let go of the bar, fell down, and basically just wept,” he says. “I was just like, ‘holy f*ck, I just did this.'”
“Three years and so many times of holding my head in my hands and thinking there’s no way I could do this. And always trying to move forward and push and be better and reflect on what I had to do. And going through a depressive time.”
But even after 24 hours, Da Silva’s competitive spirit bled through — he says that his first thought after letting go of the bar was that he could have done more reps.
“But then the first thought I had when I let go of the bar was that I could have done 8,000. What was crazy was this realization that even though I thought I was taking self-limiting beliefs off myself to achieve a Guinness World Record — I realized that having done 7,000 reps, I was still limiting myself.”
Becoming an official Guinness World Record Holder
The hours and days after Da Silva’s second attempt were filled with gratitude and emotion.
“The fact that I had done something positive with my life in a way that was so out of the ordinary and so weird,” he explains. “I was just so proud of myself. And so many people are proud and I’m so proud that I just kept working.”
He even shared his story with Simon Fraser University’s Men’s Basketball team. But to them and many others, his message was that anyone could accomplish what he did.
“You can do it, absolutely. If this is what you want, you could blow me out of the water. You can’t ever be satisfied and you can’t ever feel like you’ve done enough. Enough is just a way to box yourself in comfort.”
“This isn’t unique. There’s this great quote that to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. My best today is a hell of a lot different than my best six months ago, one year ago. There’s always another level.”
“Seven billion people on this planet, that’s a lot of people, special people out there. You can make some special sh*t happen.”
Having his record broken
When asked about what Da Silva would do if his Guinness World Record were to be broken, he replied that it’s a question of when and not if. He sees life as a competition and simply hopes that his record is part of another individual’s journey.
“I think I could definitely, unequivocally get to 8,000,” he laughed. “But I’m not going to attempt this again. Let’s not get it twisted.”
“I want people to be better because of this. I’m here because that’s what other people did for me, whether they know it or not. That’s what they did for me. They gave me the strength, the courage, and the insight.”
“For the next person to break the record, that doesn’t take away from anything I’ve done.”
And as luck would have it, Da Silva’s time as the Guinness World Record Holder for most chin-ups in 24 hours would be broken in a matter of months.
The new and current holder of the record is 60-year-old Graham Morgan from Quinta do Lago, Algarve, Portugal, who completed 7,479 chin-ups.