I have a lot to say about this challenge, and a lot of time….so here goes:
Let me start by saying I LOVE A GOOD CHALLENGE. And I am in on this one. I don’t know if I don’t yet know if I will complete every single repetition of every exercise, but I am pretty sure I can, and do it safely. This is because I have been training my body for 30 years and am going into it with a pretty strong core.
As for people looking to get started training their bodies, I have a lot of hesitations. Professionally speaking, this is NOT the best or smartest fitness challenge I have seen. It includes no exercises that involve rotation through the core, which, I think, it should (such as good old fashion bicycles). It’s all about repetition of the rectus abdominus (the long muscle than runs up and down our abs).
I am not suggesting the exercises aren’t good ones, because they are great! A much better challenge, however, would be something like trying to complete the ab workout that is a part of P90X. In that plan, Tony Horton put together a series that incorporates all the core muscles and definitely works. It is a smart challenge and I will probably revisit it, right after this one is over.
The 30 day ab challenge progresses way too quickly! This is not only dangerous, but also may set a lot of people up for failure. I believe, when people start working out, they should start with a program that sets them up for success. It’s great to walk away from a workout, yes, feeling challenged (because whatever doesn’t kill you, does make you stronger) but at the same time feeling empowered by completing it. To jump from 15 sit ups to 35 in one work week, is a lot to ask. Especially for someone who may not have done any sit ups in years. From the injury stand point, doing hundreds of ab exercises in one week, after not doing any for years, is a recipe for back injury.
How many of us have even looked into who started this challenge and why? I did, but not until this morning. The person who started it THIS time around is someone who reps for Plexus supplements. She has definitely drawn a lot of attention to herself, which must be great for her business! Smart girl. As for her knowledge about how good this challenge is (it has been around before, apparently) I have no idea….Do you?
Another concern I have about the challenge is that I am a stickler about working “sister” muscles. All this focus on the abs, should come with some exercises for the back muscles. Symmetry and balance are really, really important to our posture, to the avoidance of injury and to our physiques. I am doing the pull-ups after the ab work each day. If you don’t have a pull-up bar, you may want to consider adding something like “supermans.” (Lay face down with your arms over head like, well, like Superman and then lift your arms, head chest and legs, while holding in your abs. You just lift, and lower, and repeat. Looks like this:
So though I may sound “annoyed” about it this morning, I am not. I am into it and will continue it for as long as it makes sense and feels right. My advice to all of you doing it is DON’T GIVE UP just because it gets hard and time consuming. DO, however, use good judgement. This challenge doesn’t come with a disclosure, it doesn’t come with rules, and it doesn’t come with ab challenge police people (or a chiropractor). LISTEN to your body (not your brain, telling you to give up) and break things down into sets! If you have been sedentary and now you are able to do sit ups, crunches, leg raises and hold plank (at all) than aren’t you in a whole lot better place than you were last week? I would totally applaud that and feel really good about it!
Today the challenge is 35 sit ups, 15 crunches, 15 leg raises and 25 seconds in plank. I have to say, plank is a super comprehensive move that uses a lot of muscles. Make sure your butt isn’t sagging, or again, you will be setting yourself up for back pain.
My hope is that this challenge has motivated you to incorporate more exercise into your life. That is ALWAYS a good thing.
PLEASE remember that six pack abs are made in the kitchen. Without proper nutrition, you may get some awesome muscles but you won’t be able to see them. We can’t spot reduce, so your ab work is NOT going to make your belly smaller. Sure, it will burn a few extra calories, but you need to eat clean and reduce your body fat to see those six packs. As you take weight off, it will be a really nice bonus to see those muscles popping out. It’s a lot of work, but we are all about the challenge, right?
Feel free to hit me back with some feedback….the good, the bad and the ugly. Remember that if you leave me a comment, I will have to approve it before it shows, so don’t get concerned when you don’t see yours pop up on the page. I have been doing a lot of MASS deleting of spam, so I apologize if you left a comment and it got tossed.
Keep forging ahead. Be smart. Be focused but also be forgiving. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Bill DeSiena says
Bonni – this is so helpful and appreciated. I am just starting today (from the beginning) and while I do regular exercise including a yoga practice twice a week, my core needs work and I do have lower back issues. The sit-ups have given me problems in the past when I’m not careful.
I’m proceeding with caution but looking forward – exercise in general was more of a discipline for me in the past, but things somehow change and I need to rekindle that part in my daily life.
Bill, my greatest advice is to engage (navel to spine) abs, when doing those leg raises (really leg lowers) and listen to your body. Your yoga practice will serve you well and has hopefully helped with back issues. Maybe the yoga in me is what disturbs me a bit about the challenge. DO NO HARM includes to ourselves!! Keep me posted on how it goes for you. Thanks for checking in for a little peaceandfitness. 🙂