Are You Challenging Yourself?

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Daily-ChallengeHave you been doing the daily challenges that I post to Twitter and Facebook? (Note to Self: Come up with a Twitter hashtag.) I’ve gotten a few emails about them and I’m excited that a few of you are joining in! Since I’m limited in the number of characters there, I wanted to go into a little more detail on the challenges so you get a better idea of what they are.

The challenges are bodyweight exercises that are usually in one of the following formats:

  • You are given exercises to do and you track the time it takes for you to complete the given number. For example, 100 squats and you time how long it takes you.
  • You are given a total time and exercises and you track the number of reps/rounds you complete in that time. For example, you repeat 10 push ups and 10 squats for 10 minutes and track how many total rounds you complete.

Since you use your own bodyweight instead of heavy resistance, most people can do these workouts daily without overtraining. The workouts are meant to be difficult but shouldn’t take a huge time commitment. Almost all of them can be done in less than 20 minutes and many are even less than 10 minutes! I squeeze them in while The Kid watches TV or sometimes while dinner is cooking.

You don’t need any equipment, just you. Some of them do involve jogging, running or sprints that you can do outside if you want for some fresh air. If it’s bad weather or the dead of winter, you can always run in place or substitute jumping jacks instead. Pretend you’re in a remake of Flashdance and bust a move in your living room.

If you’re thinking there’s no way you can even attempt a challenge, you might be surprised. There are plenty of ways to modify it to your fitness level. Here are some ideas:

  • Go at your own pace. Challenges should always be done with good form as slow or as fast as your level allows. You aren’t racing against anyone else but yourself. The goal is to see improvement in your time or reps as you get fitter not to do it as fast as possible.
  • Use an easier form of the exercise or an alternative if needed. For example, push ups can be done on your knees, with your hands on a wall or on a coffee table for easier versions. If you can’t do jump squats or tuck jumps, do squats without a jump.
  • Take breaks when you need to. If you can’t do the total number of reps suggested at one time, do as many as you can then take a break before doing more. You can also rest between rounds or between exercises.
  • Do less reps or less rounds. If you’re just starting out and can’t do the entire challenge, you can always do fewer rounds or reps of the exercises. It’s called a challenge for a reason though. You want to push yourself so you improve your fitness but not so hard that you can’t move for days, gasp for air, or feel light headed. You should be sweaty and out of breath by the end.

I repeat a challenge every few weeks, so keep track of the challenge and your results when you do them. If you make any modifications, make sure to write those down too. The next time you do it, see how far you’ve come! You may have a faster time or be able to do a more difficult version. Sometimes I throw in a challenge that takes a bit more time to complete or an easier version with stretching that will give you a break. You never know what might be up next.

In case you are wondering, I’m actually doing the challenges each evening too. I wouldn’t put something together for you that I wouldn’t do myself. 😉 I also modify it if I have to. I still do push ups on my knees and lunges instead of jump lunges some days. I post my results in the evening to give you a ballpark of how long it might take you to do the challenge. Everyone’s time is going to vary based on fitness level but at least you have an idea of the time needed in case you don’t have a lot to spare.

The key is to fit exercise into your life and not to fit your life around exercise. You don’t need a ton of time or equipment to improve your fitness. Little bits along the way add up. If you do one of the challenges, come on over, post your time and brag about it. I’d love to hear your results. You never know, you just might motivate someone else to join in too!

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