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30 Day Challenges

First, let me say that I love 30 day challenges. If you can stick to a new habit for 30 days and see good results, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to maintain it into the future.
So why this article?
Not all 30 day challenges are created equal. Some–even those created by highly respected fitness gurus–are bad ideas for most people and can even be downright harmful. Especially when you use them as an onboarding ramp to a new fitness program with an exercise you are not used to doing.
Here are a couple really bad ones I’ve seen lately:
• 30/30 Squat Challenge – Spend 30 minutes a day in a rock bottom squat for 30 days
• The 300 Swings a Day, 30-Day Kettlebell Challenge
We’ll take a look at how 30 day challenges go wrong and what to do about it.

When 30 day challenges go wrong

“The best way to start a new fitness program in an exercise you are not used to is to jump in headfirst and go full tilt every day for 30 days with no rest days…” said no respected fitness expert ever.
There are two major problems with this approach:
1. Starting a fitness program with no prep-work and a fast and furious training schedule is the quickest road to burnout and injury.
2. Rest is necessary for adaptation. Muscles grow during rest, not during workouts.
Strength coaches universally recommend trainees start off light. If it doesn’t feel too easy for the first couple weeks, you’re doing it wrong. Distance running coaches start their trainees off with lots of easy, slow paced running. Highly demanding intervals don’t show up until a couple months into the training schedule. Yoga instructors start you off with downward dog and not a handstand press with your legs folded into a pretzel.
You get the point. Any 30 day challenge that ignores the basic rule of starting off easy and building up gradually is setting you up for failure and should be avoided.
Likewise, avoid 30 day fitness challenges that do not include rest days.
Pushing yourself beyond safe limits and not resting properly quickly leads to burnout and/or injury. I’ve heard from so many people who bombed out of the 30/30 Squat Challenge mere days into the program with a knee injury or pulled muscle.
But the damage isn’t just physical, it’s also psychological. You get demotivated and discouraged. You feel like you just don’t have what it takes and you are inferior to everyone else who is presumably still doing just fine on the challenge (in reality they aren’t and are quitting in droves just like you).
When the credibility of these types of programs is questioned, the “coaches” have a secret weapon against the newb: “It won’t hurt you, just man up and don’t be a wuss.” Thus many unsuspecting victims are falsely lulled into believing that these programs are safe for them.


Perhaps the major problem with all these challenges is that you are expected to do the challenge remotely. By this I mean you find the challenge on the internet and then do the exercises in the comfort of your own home, I have even seen many so called personal trainers in the local area using this approach to attract clients. The problem with this remote training is exactly that it is remote, how can your so called personal trainer or the person who invented the challenge ensure that you have right form? They can’t, you won’t and you will end up getting injured.
Don’t buy it. If you’ve fall for this before, don’t beat yourself up. Remember at Images Fitness Club we are with you ALL the time, ensuring that your exercise routine is correct for you, we also offer the areas most affordable personal training, which, combined as it is with full membership of the Club allows you to use the facilities at times when you are not booked for personal training!

chereenI joined the gym in Oct 2013 for rehab support following a neck and back injury and wider goal to improve fitness and tone. Progress with an ongoing injury is frustratingly slow but the tiny steps taken are turning into bigger ones and Rob’s ongoing support has kept me motivated and I’m getting better week on week. Couldn’t recommend a friendlier, more supportive gym.
Chereen Scott